I've been a fan since late Fall of 1979. "I Need A Lover" was it and I've owned all Mellencamp albums/CDs/Tapes days after their release (except Trouble No More).
I was not impressed with the 2005 releases, except for the availability of A Biography (1978). Most all of the bonus tracks were crap, but at least John got some attention paid to him that was finally due.
I do love the sound of this set. I appreciate the work that was put into these new remasters, but again, much like the 2005 re-issues, the bonus tracks lack in every aspect. Most of us truest die hard fans are looking for "Cold Sweat", "Pretty Ballerina", "Sham Lama Ding Dong", etc. The true treasures would be those b-sides as bonus cuts - especially "Shama Lama Ding Dong" and "Never Too Old" (both from Lonesome Jubilee).
Only the truest die hard (and neurotic) fans would bitch about the lack of John's MainMan material, but I'm forgiving about that here. No one really needs any of those two albums, unless you are looking for historical pieces to add to your Mellencamp collection. But believe me, we'd s*** some major bricks if those were included and jump all over this set in a New York minute. I'd go as high as $200 for those two CDs, A Biography, real B-Sides and Falling From Grace. Absolutely. No questions asked.
However, again, like the 2005 re-issues, there is a bonus release. This time in the form of that long awaited re-issue of Falling From Grace (Larry's "Whiskey burning" has never sounded so good and "Sweet Suzanne" is almost like those b-side treasures we are once again denied). I lost my Falling From Grace CD sometime in the 90's and haven't replaced it. It was nice to finally hear it unlike ever before. And although not a great album, the two aforementioned tracks are worth owning it.
The sound quality is awesome - much better than the 2005 re-issues. The set is missing one great CD (A Biography), but added another (Falling From Grace). The bonus tracks are crappy again (well, except for "Take Home Pay" and "Latest Game"). The packaging is less than impressive, but I do appreciate John getting some more attention his music deserves. I do wish it was more complete with those amazing b-sides.
It's worth the price for the sound quality and Falling From Grace alone. For me, 99% of the time, John gets a 4 to 5 star rating - except Trouble No More (which I'm hoping will age better in time).