Podflash.net Recommends: Johnny Cash

1990 was a curious time to be Johnny Cash. This was a few years before his Rick Rubin-orchestrated renaissance, and just one year removed from a decade that had not been kind to country legends (over-produced and sugary orchestrations defiled legit contributions) like Cash, Merle Haggard, and Willie Nelson. Still, for legends almost marginalized by poor taste and corporate gain, the proof-in-the-pudding came (and still comes) in the live setting.

Kudos to Mercury Records for recognizing that, even in the most precarious of eras, The Man In Black knew how to deliver in a manner that transcended time. Recorded in an Asbury Park, NJ performance (7/28/90) that is every bit as timeless as his 1960’s heyday,"The Great Lost Performance" is precisely that.

“Hello, I’m Johnny Cash…” is probably the singular most exciting introduction in music history (“Ladies & Gentlemen, The Rolling Stones being a definite but distant second), and knowing as much, Cash makes good on the implied promise, kicking off with a sing-along “Ring of Fire” that somehow easily segues into his gospel leanings (“A Wonderful Time Up There” & “Life’s a Railway To Heaven”) that have only recently been hinted upon in the Rubin era. The essential hits here are interspersed with the songs you didn’t realized you wanted to hear (“Pickin’ Time”) and solid duets with legendary wife June (“Jackson” and country cornerstone “Wreck of the Old 97”).

Too often when legends like Cash pass on, the market is inundated with completest-only, sub-par recordings of the artists’ every last grunt and groan, but with “The Great Lost Performance”, we are gifted not only with great songs and performances, but also with absolutely Essential Cash.

No comments: