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.