Thursday, March 05, 2009

Johnny Cash - Original Sun Singles '55-'58

Johnny Cash
Original Sun Singles ’55-‘58

Folsom Prison Blues, I Walk the Line, Big River, Cry Cry Cry, Ballad of a Teenage Queen, Get Rhythm, Luther Played the Boogie, Give My Love to Rose - admittedly, these songs have been anthologized a gazillion times before. Johnny Cash comps are as common as churches in small Southern towns, after all. But a lot of care has gone into Original Sun Singles ’55-‘58, from the nice audio and brace of lesser-known classics (Guess Things Happen That Way, Katy Too, I Just Thought You’d Like to Know, Next in Line) to the informative liner notes and cool cover. Besides, when you’re taking a spin in the hardtop, are you really gonna rummage through the box sets, or do you want to just grab a single disk of essential early Man in Black and ride on? Plus, this is a handy way to introduce a newbie (I can’t imagine who hasn’t heard Cash by now – some newborn, I guess) to the glory that was and is the 50s Cash. The stripped-to-the-bone arrangements (notwithstanding some gang vocals later on), the great songs (almost all of them originals, but some excellent Charlie Rich tunes as well), the deep baritone in its prime, before speed took its toll – this is the primo shit, not only in Cash’s career but in American music in general. If you want to mainline the Cash legacy prior to his long (and often brilliant) stint at Columbia and American, this is the way to do it.

- Michael Toland

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