The Best That I Could Do 1978–1988

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The Best That I Could Do 1978–1988
Best that i could do.JPG
Greatest hits album by John Mellencamp
Released November 18, 1997 (1997-11-18)[1]
Recorded 1978-1997 at AIR Studios (London, England), Cherokee Studios (Los Angeles, California), Criteria Studios (Miami, Florida), TRC Studios (Indianapolis, Indiana), The Shack (Brownstown, Indiana), Belmont Mall (Nashville, Indiana)[2]
Genre Rock
Length 58:51[1]
Label Mercury
Producer John Punter, Steve Cropper, John Mellencamp, Don Gehman, Mike Wanchic[2]
Compiler John Mellencamp
John Mellencamp chronology
Mr. Happy Go Lucky
(September 1996)
The Best That I Could Do 1978–1988
(November 1997)
John Mellencamp
(October 1998)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[1]
Robert Christgau (1-star Honorable Mention)[3]
Entertainment Weekly B[4]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4/5 stars[5]

The Best That I Could Do 1978–1988 is the first greatest hits compilation album by American singer-songwriter John Mellencamp, released by Mercury Records in 1997 (see 1997 in music). It compiles Mellencamp's most popular material recorded during his first decade with Riva and Mercury Records, 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 for the album.[6] The album reached #33 on the Billboard 200.[7] This album and Rough Harvest came about because, after leaving Mercury Records for Columbia Records, Mellencamp still owed the label two more albums.[5]


Stephen Thomas Erlewine said that the album's title was suitable and while it did not include all of Mellencamp's hits, it is a good summary of Mellencamp's "remarkably consistent" work.[1] Robert Christgau described it as the best of John Mellencamp, which to him is not saying much.[3] Entertainment Weekly gave the album a "B" rating, describing it as "uncomplicated but sophisticated."[4]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by John Mellencamp, except where noted. 

No. Title Original release Length
1. "I Need a Lover"   A Biography 5:38
2. "Miami"   John Cougar 3:53
3. "Ain't Even Done with the Night"   Nothin' Matters and What If It Did 4:37
4. "Hurts So Good" (Mellencamp, George Green) American Fool 3:39
5. "Jack and Diane"   American Fool 4:16
6. "Crumblin' Down" (Mellencamp, Green) Uh-Huh 3:36
7. "Pink Houses"   Uh-Huh 4:45
8. "Authority Song"   Uh-Huh 3:50
9. "Lonely Ol' Night"   Scarecrow 3:46
10. "Small Town"   Scarecrow 3:41
11. "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A."   Scarecrow 2:55
12. "Paper in Fire"   The Lonesome Jubilee 3:53
13. "Cherry Bomb"   The Lonesome Jubilee 4:49
14. "Check It Out"   The Lonesome Jubilee 4:20
15. "Under the Boardwalk" (Resnick, Kenny Young) "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A." B-Side 3:57
16. "Without Expression" (Terry Reid, Graham Nash (uncredited)) Previously unreleased 5:06

Note = Tracks 2 and 15 are on the Japanese version only


Per liner notes[2]

  • John Mellencamp (a.k.a. "Little Bastard" on some tracks) – vocals, songwriter, producer
  • Larry Crane – guitars, harmonica, background vocals, flutophone
  • Tom Knowles – drums on "I Need a Lover"
  • Robert "Ferd" Frank – bass, background vocals on "I Need a Lover"
  • Brian Bekvar – keyboards on "I Need a Lover"
  • John Punter – producer, engineer on "I Need a Lover"
  • Rick Shlosser – drums on "Ain't Even Done with the Night"
  • Mike Wanchic – guitars, background vocals; producer on "Without Expression"
  • Kenny Aronoffvibes on "Ain't Even Done with the Night", drums, background vocals, hammer dulcimer
  • Eric Rosser – keyboards
  • Steve Cropper – producer on "Ain't Even Done with the Night"
  • Bruce Robb – engineer on "Ain't Even Done with the Night"
  • Dee Robb – engineer on "Ain't Even Done with the Night"
  • George "Chocolate" Perry – bass on "Hurts So Good"
  • Dave Parman – background vocals on "Hurts So Good"
  • Don Gehman – producer/engineer on "Hurts So Good" thru "Check It Out"
  • George Tutko – engineer on "Hurts So Good"
  • Mick Ronson – guitar and background vocals on "Jack and Diane"
  • Toby Myers – bass, background vocals
  • Carroll Sue Hill – keyboards, background vocals
  • Greg Edward – engineer
  • David Thoener – engineer on "Pink Houses"
  • Sarah Flint – background vocals on "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A."
  • John Cascella – keyboards, accordion
  • Lisa Germanoviolin
  • Pat Peterson – background vocals
  • Crystal Taliefero – background vocals
  • Dane Clark – drums on "Without Expression"
  • Miriam Sturm – violin on "Without Expression"
  • Andy York – guitars, background vocals on "Without Expression"
  • Moe Z – keyboards, background vocals on "Without Expression"
  • Corsillo/Manzobe-Design Monsters – art direction
  • Paul Jasmin – photography

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1997) Peak
US Billboard 200[7] 33
Australia (Top 50 Albums)[8] 5
Canada RPM 100 Albums/CDs[9] 9
UK (Top 40)[10] 25
New Zealand (Top 50 Albums)[11] 19


Organization Level Date
RIAA - US[12] Gold December 15, 1997
ARIA - Australia[13] Platinum 1997
RIAA - US[12] Platinum July 20, 1998
ARIA - Australia[14] 2x Multi-Platinum 1998
RIAA - US[12] 3x Platinum March 19, 2002


  1. ^ a b c d Stephen Thomas Erlewine (2010). "The Best That I Could Do 1978-1988 - John Mellencamp". Allmuic Guide. Retrieved October 31, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c The Best That I Could Do 1978–1988 (CD Liner). John Mellencamp. U.S.A.: Mercury Records. 1997. pp. 9–11. 314 536 738-2. 
  3. ^ a b "CG: John Mellencamp". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 2012-01-09. 
  4. ^ a b Wook Kim (1997-12-12). "The Best That I Could Do (1978-1988) Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2012-01-09. 
  5. ^ a b "John Mellencamp: Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  6. ^ White, Timothy (1997). "Who's To Say the Way a Man Should Spend His Days: The First Two Hundred Years of the John Mellencamp Story". The Best That I Could Do 1978–1988 (CD liner). John Mellencamp. U.S.A.: Mercury Records. p. 8. 314 536 738-2. 
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^ Steffen Hung. "John Mellencamp - The Best That I Could Do (1978-1988)". Retrieved 2012-01-09. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ "John Mellencamp - The Best That I Could Do". Chart Stats. 1998-01-17. Archived from the original on 2012-07-22. Retrieved 2012-01-09. 
  11. ^ Steffen Hung. "John Mellencamp - The Best That I Could Do (1978-1988)". Retrieved 2012-01-09. 
  12. ^ a b c Type in "Mellencamp" under Artist.
  13. ^ "ARIA Charts - Accreditations - 1997 Albums". Retrieved 2012-01-09. 
  14. ^ "ARIA Charts - Accreditations - 1998 Albums". Retrieved 2012-01-09.