The Legend of Johnny Cash
First Appeared in The Music Box, December 2005, Volume 12, #12
Written by T.J. Simon
There already is a ridiculous assortment of retrospectives devoted to Johnny Cash’s output on the market, and each endeavor utilizes a distinctive subset of his work to tell its own tale. The Legend of Johnny Cash was designed to be released in conjunction with the new biopic Walk the Line, and it very well may be the most comprehensive, single-disc compilation from the Man in Black to date. For the first time, material was culled together to cover the full range of his career, and as a result, The Legend of Johnny Cash boasts a stellar slate of songs that span his time with Sun, Island, Columbia, and American Recordings.
Indeed, within the span of 21 tracks, The Legend of Johnny Cash touches upon all of the important bases. I Walk the Line and Ring of Fire sound fresh and crisp, and his novelty songs — an unedited, live version of Boy Named Sue and the slow-motion car theft of One Piece at a Time — are always a pleasure to hear. Cash’s collaboration with Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson is represented by the supergroup’s recording of Jimmy Webb’s Highwayman, and the inclusion of his spooky pairing with U2 (The Wanderer) means that Zooropa can be returned to its proper usage as a coaster. It’s also particularly nice to find a comprehensive, Cash-oriented collection that features his later work with producer Rick Rubin. Delia’s Gone and Hurt are the best of the bunch along with Cash’s cover of Hank Snow’s I’ve Been Everywhere.
Save for an alternate version of the apocalyptic The Man Comes Around, Cash’s devoted followers ought to own everything on The Legend of Johnny Cash. For newcomers, however, the collection offers a magnificently comprehensive introduction to the work of this icon of American music.
The Legend of Johnny Cash is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2005 The Music Box