The genesis of John Mellencamp’s career is one of the more unique stories in rock n roll history. Forced to change his name to John Cougar in the 70’s before eventually moving back to his given name (with a middle phase as John Cougar Mellencamp), he’s long since overcome the accusations of being a Midwest Bruce Springsteen. His hit making days of the 80’s and 90’s gave way to restless experimentation (Chuck D of Public Enemy on a Mellencamp album? See 2001’s Cuttin’ Heads) which gave way to stripping it all back to the roots of rock. The last 15 years or so have seen Mellencamp develop a cigarette influenced vocal approach that reminds me of Tom Waits. It’s also proved to be a rewarding time to be a John Mellencamp. His 1st album of the 20’s – Strictly A One-Eyed Jack was released just a few weeks ago and it might be his strongest album since 2008’s Life, Death, Love and Freedom. Those Bruce Springsteen comparisons? Not applicable – but Springsteen guests on 3 songs and adds a warmth to these songs that is welcome.