Mr. Happy Go Lucky

John Mellencamp

Mercury Records, 1996

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


If there is any artist who could benefit from a greatest-hits collection, it is John Mellencamp.

Throughout the course of his career, he's managed to produce some great songs. The problem is he's padded out his albums with lame material - probably the one exception being my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Human Wheels.

This pattern continues with his latest effort, Mr. Happy Go Lucky, his first release since suffering a heart attack a few years ago.

Prior to the album's release, there was a lot of hope on my part that it would be better than his last effort, the abysmal Dance Naked. Upon hearing the first single, "Key West Intermezzo (I Saw You First)," my hopes seemed to be confirmed. Here was a song with an entirely different feel than other Mellencamp works - it almost sounded hip-hop in the beat. The material was fresh and inviting, and the song hooks you in quickly.

Ah, but singles can be deceiving - "Key West Intermezzo" was, sadly, the best song on Mr. Happy Go Lucky. That fresh, hip-hop beat? It gets stale real quickly. There is a lack of leadership among the musicians backing up Mellencamp - there is no biting lead guitar, no real good use of rhythm instruments, etc. - except on the single, and two instrumental tracks, one leading the album off, one near its completion... and those are mere throw-aways.

But with all his time off, surely Mellencamp has refined his art of songwriting, you may ask. Unfortunately, the answer is no. The material is bland and boring. In fact, unless you were paying close attention, you would hardly notice the tracks blending together to make one indifferent mess.

Even when he tries to get a point across, Mellencamp falls flat - "Emotional Love" and "Life Is Hard" being two prime examples.

Mellencamp knows how to write and play good songs, and with the exception of the one hit single, there is little evidence of that on Mr. Happy Go Lucky. Once I had thought that Mellencamp couldn't sink lower than the terrible Whenever We Wanted or Dance Naked. I hate it when artists prove me wrong.

Rating: D+

User Rating: C-



© 1997 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Mercury Records, and is used for informational purposes only.