John Mellencamp The Best That I Could Do 1978-1988 [2 LP] Record vinyl
The Best That I Could Do is an appropriately self-deprecating title for John Mellencamp's greatest-hits collection, considering that the heartland rocker never seemed too convinced of his own worth. Of course, he had to struggle to get any respect after he was saddled with the stage name Johnny Cougar early in his career, but this 14-track collection proves that he was one of the best, unabashed straight-ahead rockers of the '80s. The 14 tracks here actually turn out to be a little too short to contain all of his great singles -- songs like "Rain on the Scarecrow," "Rumbleseat," "Pop Singer," "Again Tonight," and "What If I Came Knocking" are left off the collection (there's nothing from 1988's Big Daddy at all) -- but it's hard to argue with what's here. Over the course of the collection, such classic rock hits as "I Need a Lover," "Hurts So Good," "Jack and Diane," "Crumblin' Down," "Pink Houses," "Lonely Ol' Night," "Small Town," "Paper in Fire," "Cherry Bomb," and "Check It Out" are chronicled, with a new cover of Terry Reid's "Without Expression" added for good measure. It may fall short of being definitive, but only by a small margin, and it remains an excellent overview and introduction to Mellencamp's remarkably consistent body of work.