John Mellencamp

Whenever We Wanted

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John Mellencamp took his signature blend of Stonesy rock and folk as far as it could go on Big Daddy, so he wisely returned to straight-ahead rock & roll with Whenever We Wanted. Uh-Huh was the last record he made that rocked as hard and consistently as this, and his songwriting had improved considerably in the years since that breakthrough release. Which means, of course, that Whenever We Wanted is more consistent than the earlier record, but it never reaches the highs of Uh-Huh. Even its best moments ("Love and Happiness," "Get a Leg Up," "Whenever We Wanted," "Again Tonight") shine because of their craftsmanship, failing to achieve the kinetic energy of his earlier work. Whenever We Wanted remains a solid record, but it's one that feels like a holding pattern.

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