John Mellencamp

20th Century Masters: The Best of John Mellencamp

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Universal's 20th Century Masters collection has never been intended to be the definitive word on an artist; from its inception it was designed as a brief sampling of their biggest hits. Even so, John Mellencamp's 2007 entry in the series is surprisingly light on his classic '80s hits, with half of these ten songs dating after The Lonesome Jubilee. This leaves plenty of room for the biggest of the big tunes -- "Small Town," "Pink Houses," "Jack & Diane," "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.," "Cherry Bomb" -- but there's still a gaping hole where "Crumblin' Down," "The Authority Song," "Lonely Old Night," "Paper in Fire," and especially "Hurts So Good" should be. In their place are latter-day songs, ranging from "Key West Intermezzo (I Saw You First)" to "Walk Tall," many of which are good, but they aren't quite as iconic. So, for those songs, listeners will need to look elsewhere, but for those who want a brief overview of it all, with most of the big hits, this is fine.

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