The Best That I Could Do 1978–1988 is the first greatest hits compilation album by John Mellencamp, released in 1997. It compiles Mellencamp’s most popular material recorded during his first decade, beginning with 1978’s A Biography, up through 1987’s The Lonesome Jubilee, with a new recording of Terry Reid’s “Without Expression”. Mellencamp picked the songs for the album and also came up with the title. The album reached #33 on the Billboard 200. Pressed on vinyl (2LP) for the first time.
Ever since he burst out of Indiana in the mid-’70s, The Artist Formerly Known As John Cougar never allowed success to smother his humble beginnings as an Indiana boy done good. This inevitable best-of follows him down the long, strange road of his career. Mellencamp’s initial success came via a bar-band anthem (“I Need A Lover”). He then turned his attention towards writing about life in the Midwest (“Small Town” and “Pink Houses”). Along the way, the self-named “Little Bastard” embraced roots music by incorporating fiddle and squeezebox into his sound (“Paper In Fire”), setting the stage for the later success of alt-country acts such as Uncle Tupelo and The Jayhawks. Always a fan of late ’60s rock and soul, Mellencamp paid homage to the T.A.M.I. shows of his youth in “R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A.” and added a cover of Terry Reid’s obscure “Without Expression” to this package of otherwise previously released material.
|I Need A Lover||5:37|
|Ain’t Even Done With The Night||4:38|
|Hurts So Good||3:39|
|Jack And Diane||4:15|
|Lonely Ol’ Night||3:45|
|R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A.||2:55|
|Paper In Fire||3:51|
|Check It Out||4:20|
Personnel: John Mellencamp (vocals); Larry Crane (guitar, harmonica, background vocals); Mike Wanchic, Mick Ronson, Andy York (guitar, background vocals); Lisa Germano, Miriam Sturm (violin); Kenny Aronoff (hammered dulcimer, vibraphone, drums); John Cascella (accordion, keyboards, background vocals); Carroll Sue Hill, Moe Z. (keyboards, background vocals); Brian Bekvar, Eric Rosser, Jay Ferguson (keyboards); Robert Frank, Toby Myers (bass, background vocals); Chocolate Perry, Willie Weeks (bass); Tom Knowles, Rick Shlosser, Dane Clark (drums); Dave Parman, Sarah Flint, Pat Peterson, Crystal Taliefero (background vocals).
Producers include: John Punter, Steve Cropper, John Mellencamp, George Green, Don Gehman.
Engineers include: John Punter, Bruce Robb, Dee Robb, Don Gehman, George Tutko. Includes liner notes by Timothy White. All tracks have been digitally remastered using HDCD technology.