Thursday, September 27, 2012

"Small Paradise" by John Cougar

Song#:  0050
Date:  02/16/1980
Debut:  88
Peak:  87
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Before he told the tale of "Jack & Diane" and before he returned to his Mellencamp name, Cougar was a young musician trying to find his place in the major label music world. His first album "Chestnut Street Incident" failed and his follow-up "The Kid Inside" didn't get released (although it did once he became a star). He was dropped by MCA and picked up by the small Riva label. His first album for them, "A Biography," was not released in the US. It did contain "I Need a Lover" which became a #5 hit in Australia and was subsequently put on his next US album "John Cougar." The song was a minor US hit (#28) and it got him on the chart. Critics were not impressed and he was considered a Springsteen wannabe, but that would all change in a few short years. "Small Paradise" was his second chart single.

ReduxReview:  Back in the day labels usually gave artists with potential a chance to grow. Luckily Mellencamp was given that opportunity as it really took five albums to start finding his footing. Today that probably would not have happened. I will say that Mellecamp is one of my all-time favorite artists. However, on the early career albums I mostly agree with critics. With minor exceptions the material just wasn't there. Less epic than "I Need a Lover," "Small Paradise" is more dramatic and has a dark tone. Not a good choice for a single. "Miami," which was the next single in Australia, would have been the better choice.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Double Shot! 1) His first albums were listed as by "Johnny Cougar," which he disliked but was goaded into using. He got it down to "John Cougar" for that self-title album. It would still take years and a lot of albums sold before he could reclaim his given name. It was 1991's "Whenever We Wanted" that he was finally billed as John Mellencamp. 2) "I Need a Lover" was covered by Pat Benatar on her debut album and it became a rock radio hit in 1979.


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