John Mellencamp - lead vocals, guitar; Kenny Aronoff - percussion, drums; Larry Crane - guitar; George "Chocolate" Perry - bass; Mike Wanchic - guitar
Before he was John Mellencamp he was John Cougar-Mellencamp, and before that he was simply John Cougar; a stage name that an ex-manager gave him that he always hated. Unfortunately, before he could change it back to his real name (Mellencamp) he had a massive hit single with the song, "I Need A Lover," (which was also a hit for Pat Benatar), so he was stuck with it. It would take five years and three albums for Cougar to return to being Mellencamp, and during that time he made some exceptional albums and memorable tours.
This show, recorded in the heartland of America (Mellencamp was from Indiana, himself), is an excellent example of the power and control he had in his early hard-rock years. As his career evolved, he became more acoustic-driven, and most recently he's become more of a blues-purist. But back in the early '80s Cougar was a long-haired rebellious rocker, leading a band of desperados out to put their musical stamp on anything that got in their way.
Opening with a sizzling version of Humble Pie's Brit-blues-rocker, "30 Days In The Hole," he wails through a number of songs which have since become radio staples, including "A Little Night Dancin'," "Close Enough," the aforementioned early hit, "I Need A Lover," and three of his biggest hit of all time, "Hand To Hold On To," "Hurts So Good" (which he repeats again as his finale encore); and "Jack & Diane," which at the time, were all new songs in his repertoire.
By the time this recording was captured for the King Biscuit Flower Hour, Cougar-Mellancamp had already morphed his style from straight hard/rock-pop to a more blues-Stones influenced form of rock. The real essence of his artistic ability would come in future albums and tours such as Uh Huh and Scarecrow, but the John Mellencamp here is a close version of what America would eventually come to know as a true rock legend.