Saturday, February 9, 2013

Johnny Cash - The Best of (1991)

I have had to backtrack to J, remembering that I have this CD - which may seem a bit out of place in my collection - for although Johnny Cash did some awesome stuff - like a cover of  Nine Inch Nails (that was better than the original) - this one is very much old school and very much country. It is one of two country CDs in my collection (regretfully, I do not have any Handsome Family).

This was a spur-of-the-moment, impulse purchase of a bargain CD, acquired entirely because of the first track. The album may have been released in 1991, but most of the songs are from the 60s, marking this as the oldest music in my collection. The recordings are the original ones, which means the sound quality is not great (it actually contains a warning fro the CD store that the disc surface isn't perfect but it should play fine).

"Ring of Fire" which is an awesome track and best played loud - from the distinct opening horns and into the chorus. Cash's baritone voice is magnificant, and portrays emotion very well. This is a song about falling in love, despite the ominous title.

"A Boy Named Sue" follows it up, with its ridiculous (funny) lyrics and as it is performed live - you can hear the laughter in his voice and the cheers of the crowd. The lyrics are rather violent though. Vocals and guitar, rollicking rhythm.

And then we have a song about drinking too much - "Sunday Morning Coming Down". He had such a wonderful voice, so deep that it is like a force of nature and laden with emotion. The music helps here too.Quite a melancholic song. Also live, but the audience are well behaved.

In fact, much of this album seems to be live. I guess that was the way things were recorded in those days?

"Folsom Prison Blues" is a goodly paced country song, one of those rockabilly numbers that isn't too depressing - although it does have some rather violent lyrics too:
"I shot a man in Reno, just to see him die..."
Another one that is familar - "I Walk the Line". Great vocals, supporting by a chug-chug-chug of guitar.
"I admit that I'm a fool for you, because you're mine - I walk the line"
Another love song, I'm guessing, and of course, the song the movie was named after. I have not seen the movie - maybe I should? The lyrics are actually quite romantic.

Back into the rock-inspired country "Ballad of a Teenage Queen". This is a true "Ballad" - that is to say - an actual story - about a girl who falls in love with the boy next door then leaves him to become famous. But don't worry, she comes back to the boy next door.

Ah, the old songs had lyrics that were actual narratives and that you could hear the words to.

"Guess Things Happen That Way" contains some elements of  acapella, although it also has guitar.

"The Way of a Woman in Love" is another country-ish number, as is "Get Rhythm". Both have a hint of rock n roll to them, however.

"That Old Wheel" is another rollicking song,

A more heart-felt number - "The Long Black Veil" has harmonica, and encompases the feel of the wild open spaces, the great plains of the US of A. Had I made a soundtrack for our US adventure, this would have been a perfect addition.

This is something of an anamoly in my CD collection, and I'm pretty sure this isn't the true Best of Johnny Cash - or at least, it doesn't include anything created in like the last 30 or so years, It certainly would not be my choice of Johnny Cash CD had I set out to actually buy one - the songs are decent, and display his fine vocals, but aside from "Ring of Fire" and "Walk the Line" (and maybe "Boy named Sue") none of the songs have lasted through to the modern day. If I was to actually say "I am going to buy a Johnny Cash CD" it would definitely have had "Hurt" on it. God, that's a beautiful rendtion - better than the original (which is saying a lot - because I really love the original too).

Please understand that I respect Johnny Cash, and admire his wonderful voice, his creativity and originality, but that for the quality (which is poor), the relative obscurity of most of these songs (at least to someone who was not born when they were released) this particular album by Johnny Cash is only going to get a 5/10 from me.

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