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Classic Album Review: Johnny Cash | Hymns By Johnny Cash: American Milestones Series

The hellraiser tackles gospel with this approachable mix of rockabilly and reverence.

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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 celebrate country legend Johnny Cash’s 70th birthday, the folks at his record label Sony threw quite a little party in his honour — by releasing a couple of greatest-hit collections, a star-studded tribute disc, and reissues of five of the Man in Black’s classic discs from the ’50s and ’60s.

In typical fashion, the quintet — The Fabulous Johnny Cash, Hymns by Johnny Cash, Ride This Train, Orange Blossom Special and Carryin’ On With Johnny Cash and June Carter — were all remastered and augmented with bonus tracks, copious liner notes and even anecdotes from Cash himself. Here’s the lowdown on one of them. You can use the search box to find the rest:

 


Johnny Cash
Hymns by Johnny Cash

The Year: 1958.

The Back Story: Like Elvis, Cash loved his gospel music. But unlike Sun, Columbia was only too happy to let him record it. He wasted no time, recording this approachable, old-timey mix of rockabilly and reverence almost immediately after his first album.

The Hits: His gently rocking arrangement of Swing Low, Sweet Chariot oughta get him to the Pearly Gates; and the bopcat gospel of It Was Jesus oughta get him inside.

The Extras: Just one — a different mix of It Was Jesus.

The Final Verdict: Not bad for a hell-raiser.