The 40th anniversary of John Cougar Mellencamp's "Uh Huh" album is being celebrated by the syndicated radio show In The Studio With Redbeard: The Stories Behind History's Greatest Rock Bands.
Redbeard shared this synopsis: With Uh Huh by John Cougar Mellencamp in Autumn 1983, the rock mainstream had to make room alongside Bob Seger and Tom Petty for another talented chronicler of the American experience. Peaking at #9 on Billboard, Uh Huh spawned three Top 15 hits with "Pink Houses" (#8), "Crumblin' Down" (#9), and "Authority Song" (#15). And Uh Huh wasn't simply important for John Mellencamp personally, as Rolling Stone magazine ranked it at an impressive #32 on their "100 Greatest Albums of the '80s".
With November 1983's Uh Huh forty years ago, John Mellencamp wasted no time following up his fourth album, American Fool, which had yielded three Top Twenty hits in 1982, including "Hurt So Good" (#2) followed by his first #1, "Jack and Diane". Only two partisans were as equally relieved as John: his ambitious English manager and his long suffering US record company. The former had negotiated John's record deal as "Johnny Cougar", apparently maintaining that the Central Indiana small town singer/songwriter did not possess either the crooner voice or Elvis good looks which allowed Englebert Humperdink to pull off the funny name thing. Unilaterally rejecting John's family name Mellencamp (German ancestry) was a move which would cause the musician considerable chagrin for the better part of ten years.
Using his newly-found pop chart popularity, John was able to leverage a compromise for his November 1983 follow up album Uh Huh, appearing as John Cougar Mellencamp. "I think Uh Huh is me finally figuring out what it is that I do," JohnMellencamp sums up his first fully realized album here In the Studio. "Took me a long time, didn't it? Like, five albums or something," he chuckles.
With a tight band who had honed their chops during countless keggers at Indiana University frat houses and Hoosier roadhouses, on Uh Huh Mellencamp channeled Stones-ish rockers such as "A Warmer Place to Sleep" and the jaded "Serious Business", punk rockabilly Telecaster rave up "Authority Song", and the dashboard confessional "Play Guitar", with the rhythmic Top 10 hit "Crumblin' Down" and the MTV Reagan era-defining classic "Pink Houses". John Mellencamp joins me In the Studio for this classic rock interview on the fortieth anniversary of his multi-million seller, focusing in the affirmative on Uh Huh.
Stream the episode here.