Home Read Classic Album Review: Johnny Cash | The Essential Johnny Cash

Classic Album Review: Johnny Cash | The Essential Johnny Cash

If you don’t own a Cash album, this will do. But Essential doesn’t live up to its billing.

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This came out in 2002 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):

 


To my way of thinking, all Johnny Cash is essential. But I can see how some folks might think some Cash is more essential than others.

Those folks will get their money’s worth out of this disc, the first of a slew of tributes, retrospectives and reissues due this year to mark the Man in Black’s 70th birthday. The Essential Johnny Cash has 39 cuts spread over two CDs, moving more or less chronologically from early fare like Cry, Cry, Cry through hits like I Walk the Line, Ring of Fire and Boy Named Sue to later collaborations with U2 (The Wanderer) and The Highwaymen. So far, so good. But on the downside, there are no unreleased cuts, no tunes from his ’90s comeback discs, the photos are skimpy, the liner notes skimpier, and — worst of all — the two CDs have less than two hours of music. Bottom line: If you don’t own a Cash album, this one will do. But for fans, Essential doesn’t live up to its billing.