Whenever We Wanted

Whenever We Wanted

Steeped in gutsy heartland rock, 1991’s Whenever We Wanted brings John Mellencamp back to the sound of such pivotal albums as American Fool and Uh-Huh. A definite Rolling Stones influence (think Exile on Main St.) is apparent in tracks like “Crazy Ones,” “Melting Pot” and the hit single “Get a Leg Up.” The cowbell-accented beat of “They’re So Tough” spurs Mellencamp on to give an especially aggressive vocal performance. There’s an almost punk attitude coursing through the hard-chugging “I Ain’t Ever Satisfied.” Though sexual intrigue is the subject of more than one of these tunes, Mellencamp hasn’t completely forsaken his role as a populist commentator here. “Love and Happiness” offers thoughts about war and consumerism even as it lays down a ferocious groove. Whenever We Wanted isn’t the most reflective of Mellencamp’s albums, but for sheer rock muscle and pugnacious spirit, it ranks among his best.

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