Johnny Cash
Sings the Songs That Made Him Famous


4.5
superb

Review

by Verian USER (5 Reviews)
October 4th, 2012 | 13 replies


Release Date: 1958 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The second release from Johnny Cash released after he had left for major label, Columbia.

This is the second album by Johnny Cash, released on the Sun Records Label in 1958. Sun had already lost Cash to Columbia Records but they still had enough tracks in the vault to put out another album. As with the first release on Sun from Cash, these songs are minimalist, devoid of excess fat, with acoustic strumming mimicking the missing percussion element, often capturing a rhythmic train feel that’s fits perfectly with the song. I don’t know why ‘I Walk The Line’ is included again, after it’s first outing on the debut Long Player, but it’s pretty much the Cash signature song and bears repeated listening. We also have ‘Big River’ making its first appearance. The Secret Sisters recorded a version of the song in 2011, with Jack White playing backing guitar, so some 52 years after it first appeared, the weeping willow was still being taught how to cry and the clouds how to cover up a clear blue sky, which is testament to the enduring nature of the song. Cash himself re-recorded the song with the Highwaymen (Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson) in ’84 and there is an interesting version, which has a couple of false starts, included as a bonus track on ‘Last Man Standing (American Outakes)’.

Eleven of the original twelve tracks here hit the top-10 of the county charts, four of them reaching the top, and five crossed over to the pop charts, with three of them pushing into the top 20. When released this album was really a compilation of those successful Cash Sun singles of '56, '57 and '58 as the ‘45 was the primary sales vehicle at the time, so collecting so many together in the same place was good business. This does mean though that there are different production values from track to track, giving the album the feel of a compilation, and leaves me wondering whether they would benefit from being re-mastered or whether some of that homespun feel would be lost in the process.

The brevity of the songs is indicative of their original format as singles, with not one exceeding 3 minutes. Nor do any of them need to be any longer, with each story being told clearly and succinctly, without unnecessary adornments. They are simple song s of love lost, never found or unrequited, but there is a certain gravitas applied when they are performed by Cash. As with many of the great performers, he is able to convey the feeling that he has been there, and is sharing his own experiences with the audience, making the lyrics not just words from a song, but words from a life.

1."Ballad of a Teenage Queen" (Jack Clement) – 2:13
2."There You Go" (Cash) – 2:19
3."I Walk the Line" (Cash) – 2:46
4."Don't Make Me Go" (Cash) – 2:31
5."Guess Things Happen That Way" (Clement) – 1:52
6."Train of Love" (Cash) – 2:24
7."The Ways of a Woman in Love" (Bill Justis, Charlie Rich) – 2:16
8."Next in Line" (Cash) – 2:49
9."You're the Nearest Thing to Heaven" (Jim Atkins, Cash, Hoyt Johnson) – 2:42
10."I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love With You)" (Hank Williams) – 1:49
11."Home of the Blues" (Cash, Glen Douglas, Vic McAlpin) – 2:41
12."Big River" (Cash) – 2:35

Total run time 28:57 with 6 tracks on each side of vinyl.

Personnel:

Johnny Cash — Main Performer
Luther Perkins – Guitar
Marshall Grant – Bass
Sam Phillips – Producer
Jack Clement - Producer


user ratings (31)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
ReturnToRock
October 4th 2012


3446 Comments


Getting better - more detail about the songs this time around, but could still use more (although I suppose everyone knows at least a couple of these tracks).

Also, are you going for a discography? If so, good luck! I did the KISS one, and that's about 1/3 as large as Cash's, so I can't fathom doing one that large!

ReturnToRock
October 4th 2012


3446 Comments


He keeps a close watch on that heart of his.

Verian
October 4th 2012


15 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks. I do have all his albums so over time I might well end up doing one, but it's a daunting prospect! I will have to do the American Recording by Cash for definite though, as it was those that made me look to his back catalogue.



In the summer I listened and rated every Prince album, just ratings with key tracks, I swore then, never again! (particularly with the later albums mostly turning my brain to mush, although I was probably Prince'd out by then)



ReturnToRock
October 4th 2012


3446 Comments


^Yeah now imagine me doing KISS, where 90% of it turns your brain to mush and the other 10% kills a few of your braincells anyway.

My sister's into Johnny Cash, she has Folsom Prison and a couple of others. I like the one with the blue cover with his face on it shadowed (is that Folsom Prison Blues?)

Verian
October 4th 2012


15 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

That's San Quentin, though he does Folsom Prison Blues, to cheers from the inmates when he shoots a man in Reno, just to watch him die!



Reviewing the Kiss discography would probabaly kill me to be honest, you did well to come out the other side!



ReturnToRock
October 4th 2012


3446 Comments


Yeah that's why I take objection when people tell me stuff like it's irrelevant, blah blah blah. I'd like to see them do it! Reviewing bad music is much harder than reviewing good music (albeit more fun write-up-wise).

Verian
October 4th 2012


15 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It's certainly more difficult to review something that you don't think much of, especially to try and maintain some semblance of impartiality. Not that we have to be impartial of course.



The last kiss album I owned, and listened to was Unmasked. So I’m going to go and read your review of it.



hmmm, there's a link to it but it leads to a review by somebody else.

ReturnToRock
October 4th 2012


3446 Comments


http://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/34257/KISS-Unmasked/

I went into this blind - I'd only heard a couple of songs. I was reading their bio though, and it was fascinating, so I decided to look into them.

Three months or so later, I had found a band almost as bad as Nickelback.

Verian
October 5th 2012


15 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I gave it a 2.5, anything that contains a song like Shandi is almost irredeemable.



ReturnToRock
October 5th 2012


3446 Comments


True, that's a terrible song, but there's a couple of really fun hard rock cuts in there which take the score up a notch.

Ire
October 5th 2012


41945 Comments


this is a review

Verian
October 8th 2012


15 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

FourthReich, I might not do the ALL! but I will do the American recordings. Track 11 is an interesting choice.



Ire, Cheers.



PorcelainRain
January 15th 2014


536 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Johnny Cash is the fucking man



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