Personnel: John Cougar (vocals, guitar); Larry Crane, Mike Wanchic (guitar); George "Chocolate" Perry (bass); Ken Aronoff (drums).
John Cougar and the American listening public became inseparable after this landmark album arrived in 1982. While AMERICAN FOOL wasn't John Cougar's first full-length recording, it was the one wherein he gained commercial and artistic footing, and established a formula that would become his trademark style--simple roots-rock melodies with stirring choruses, unguardedly emotional vocals, and lyrics that reflect the experiences of the common man.
Album opener "Hurts So Good" is a playful rocker (with a dangerously catchy refrain) that has become part of the pop canon, and "Jack & Diane" is one of the great slice-of-life songs of the '80s. While both songs loom large, other overlooked treasures include "China Girl," with its cheeky faux-Chinese guitar riff, and the ballad "Weakest Moments," which blends transcendent acoustic-guitar changes with a gorgeous, careworn melody. Here and elsewhere on this well-written record, Cougar proves he's nobody's fool.
CMJ (1/5/04, p.10) - Ranked #19 in CMJ's "Top 20 Most-Played Albums of 1982".