This is the record that transformed John Cougar (né John Mellencamp and soon to be John Cougar Mellencamp) into a superstar. "Hurts So Good" was destined to be a huge hit--ludicrous, powerful, and utterly unforgettable--an... more »d has long since gone on to be something of a rock & roll standard. But the real revelation on this record was "Jack and Diane," a poignant slice of life from a small town somewhere in middle America, a topical vein he would mine with even greater success on later recordings (especially on The Lonesome Jubilee). Backed by a crisp, powerful, spot-on band that gave a needed sense of urgency to the material, Cougar deservedly wore the mantle of Mainstream Rock King while this record ruled the airwaves. --Percy Keegan« less
This is the record that transformed John Cougar (né John Mellencamp and soon to be John Cougar Mellencamp) into a superstar. "Hurts So Good" was destined to be a huge hit--ludicrous, powerful, and utterly unforgettable--and has long since gone on to be something of a rock & roll standard. But the real revelation on this record was "Jack and Diane," a poignant slice of life from a small town somewhere in middle America, a topical vein he would mine with even greater success on later recordings (especially on The Lonesome Jubilee). Backed by a crisp, powerful, spot-on band that gave a needed sense of urgency to the material, Cougar deservedly wore the mantle of Mainstream Rock King while this record ruled the airwaves. --Percy Keegan
Jes G. (jesgear) from DAVENPORT, IA Reviewed on 6/4/2016...
"Hurts So Good"
"Jack and Diane"
"Hand to Hold on To"
Joalice M. from CROYDON, PA Reviewed on 8/9/2006...
John Cougar is a true American story teller.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Excellent American Folk-Rock.
J. Schneider | Mosinee, WI United States | 04/30/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"An awesome musician with a great rough edge to his voice, banging out original music that we can all relate to with an honest passion and natural talent we all wish we had. He became an American icon and this album is where he hit it big.A Mellencamp newbie may wish to just check out his "Best That I Could Do" compilation first, but if you want to go beyond that, this abum is where to start. This is an American classic... and to think he has at least a few others that could be considered classic.For the one guy who gripes about him going by "John Cougar" at first... ever heard the story about his first record deal: the copmany-guy said something along the lines of, "I don't care what you want to call yourself, but 'John Cougar' is gonna be the name on this contract." So he sucked up his pride and went by John Cougar. When that contract was up, he immediately went back to Mellencamp... if you have a gripe about that, get real."
Cougar with a sound that hurts so good
Daniel J. Hamlow | Narita, Japan | 03/24/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"With American Fool, John Cougar, attained status on the American music scene that would reach its peak during the Scarecrow and Lonesome Jubilee albums, but that was three and five years away, respectively. For now, let's concentrate on 1982 and the singles that shot up the charts, including the #1 single "Jack & Diane." The sounds here are more raw and rock than the more refined material of the mid- to late 80's, some songs encompassing a combination drums and guitar that neared the crunch of AC-DC, such as one of his signature tunes, "Hurt So Good." Most of the songs have pounding pneumatic drums and power guitar chord stomp, and what I'm noticing here is that many other songs could've become singles because of it. In other words, Cougar's moment could've been bigger had this album been given a few more singles. Much like the lines in "Hurt So Good," "sink your teeth right into my bones" and "c'mon baby make it hurt so good," there's a new sort of confidence in the sound and in Cougar himself."A little ditty about Jack and Diane/two American kids doing the best they can" Well that little ditty went to #1 sure enough, divided into the quiet acoustic verses about the couple, with the transitional refrain of "life goes on/long after the thrill of living is gone" on the inevitable parade of life, leading into that ringing power riff. The thing seems to be that any young couple had better enjoy it, because "change will come around real soon and make us women and men." And break out the vomit bags, for the recognizable power riff and two notes plucked was sampled by Jessica Simpson in "I Think I Love You."Needing that moral backup and set to a style that would come to its fruition in Scarecrow is what "Hand To Hold On To" is about. The hand need not be strong or rich, and there's the need to have some dreams or thrills to live for.There's a bit of self-assured wild loner in the mid-paced "Danger List"; in one moment, he says "I ain't looking for affection" but that next turns to, "give me someone I can look up to/show me someone I can love." The songs ends with the usual crunch chords prevalent in this album.Another could-be single is "Can You Take It" with its opening storm of guitars and a catchy chorus, as is "Thundering Hearts" with its AC-DC crunch. One of the better and more powerful songs here.No, this isn't the Iggy Pop version of "China Girl," as the Coug wrote all his own songs here, and he sings admiringly of a Chinese girl. Had he released this as a single, this might've beaten David Bowie to the punch and people might associate the title of the song to Cougar.A bit of truth there in "I'm close enough for rock and roll," as Cougar proclaims in Close Enough, another song that could've made it as a single, given the same sound defining "Hurt So Good." The album ends with the soft acoustic "Weakest Moments."American Fool further opened the crack in the door that was "I Need A Lover" two albums back, but given the material here, that crack could've been wider. And did that crack turn into a wider peek into the mainstream? Uh-Huh."
John Young (firstname.lastname@example.org) | California | 03/09/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One of the best albums that John Mellencamp (formerly John Cougar) has ever released! since then, we have seen some incredible work from him, but nothing as yet hascome up to the classic song "Jack and Diane". If you're going on a long road trip and need something to keep you awake, this is the CD for you!"
Hard And Cool
susumu-5 | Japan | 03/26/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The year 1982 made an "American Fool" John Cougar(when this album was released he named himself that way) really a cool guy. Spurred by superhits JACK AND DIANE, HURTS SO GOOD both having impressive heavier straight-ahead rock arrangement, this album became a #1 album hit serving as another narrator for non-mainstream rejected Americans just as the music of Bruce Springsteen did. This album has nicely written great songs so overshadowed by the aforementioned hits but with repeated listens you will get to love it. THUNDERING HEARTS is the closer in style for Jack and Diane hit but the rest are raid back message-driven songs. DANGER LIST is in particular self-portrayal song remniscing days back his unknown rocker days. WEAKEST MOMENTS is slow blues having nostalgic interlude.
Recommended for wide range of American rock fans who love Bruce Springsteen, Rick Springfield, Hooters, Bob Seger, and Huey Lewis and the News. "
Where it all begins for Johnny Cougar
... | Montreal | 06/28/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's hard to believe now, so many years later, that John Mellencamp was forced to change his name to "Johnny Cougar" in order to get a record deal because an executive said "I just can't sell John Mellencamp". Well, this album proved that name means nothing, and that by any name, young John was a musician to be reckoned with.This hometown style collection of folk rock songs starts off with 3 tracks that can compete with the best music of its decade. Nobody that listens to music can fail to recognize the opening chords of "Hurts so Good", "Hand to Hold on To", or the immaculate "Jack and Diane". They're just that good. The rest of the album is old fashioned rock, with standouts including "Thundering Hearts" and "Close Enough".Although he'd go on to much greater commercial successes in the future and some stylistic changes that would deviate from his folk-rock roots, "American Fool" is really where it all began for John Mellencamp, and here he begins to establish himself as one of the premier representatives of middle America."