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Mr. Happy Go Lucky (Remastered)

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Album Review

John Mellencamp responded to his massive heart attack and close call with death with Mr. Happy Go Lucky, the most overtly ambitious album in his career. Mellencamp has always been a bit of a fatalist, so it isn't any great surprise that there is an undercurrent of dark mortality running through most of his songs. What is a surprise is his musical approach. Although he hasn't abandoned the essential elements of his music — the rootsy instrumentation, the violins, the simple song structures, the gritty folk-rock — he has augmented them with the help of Junior Vasquez, a noted dance producer. Vasquez doesn't push Mellencamp into dance, but he adds certain dynamics and techniques from club music to Mr. Happy Go Lucky, which occasionally gives the album a greater depth. It's a gentle change, not a forceful one — nothing sounds like dance music, but there are deeper rhythms and bass throughout the album, which breathes life into well-crafted songs like "Key West Intermezzo (I Saw You First)." Since he doesn't pursue dance completely on Mr. Happy Go Lucky, Mellencamp doesn't end up alienating his fans, but the reluctance to give himself over to dance makes the album uneven. Ironically, the tracks that exhibit Vasquez's influence the least are the least successful — they simply sound like Mellencamp is going through the motions. Nevertheless, Mr. Happy Go Lucky proves that Mellencamp has more surprises in him than many listeners would have expected and suggests that he is in the process of revitalizing his career. [The 2005 reissue of the album added one bonus track: a live version of "What If I Came Knocking" that first appeared on the Key West Intermezzo (I Saw You First) CD single.]

Customer Reviews

Edgy and Cool

I saw John Mellencamp a few years ago in Ottawa. He's the last of his kind - a true song and dance man. Not many performers can replicate the studio sound on stage...but he can. This album flew under the radar in 1996. I don't know why exactly. The collection of songs and arrangements on this album is a pleasing mix of pop-rock with a country twang - it doesn't disappoint.


Born: October 07, 1951 in Seymour, IN

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Throughout his career, John Mellencamp has had to fight, whether it was for the right to record under his own name or for respect as an artist. Of course, he never made it easy on himself. Mellencamp began his career in the late '70s as a Bruce Springsteen clone called Johnny Cougar. As his career progressed, his music became more distinctive, developing into a Stonesy blend of hard rock and folk-rock. His musical development coincided with his growth in popularity -- by the time "Hurts So Good"...
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