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Classic Album Review: Johnny Cash | The Fabulous Johnny Cash: American Milestones Series

The Man in Black's 1958 Columbia debut LP is the last word in first albums.


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
The Fabulous Johnny Cash

The Year: 1958.

The Back Story: The beginning of the big time. The aptly titled Fabulous is the first album the deep-throated Cash recorded after leaving Sun Records for Columbia. Not surprisingly, it takes the familiar Sun sound — rockabilly tunes, twangy guitars, slapback production, spare arrangements, backing vocals from The Jordanaires — and polishes it up a little for mass consumption.

The Hits: The sombre I Still Miss Someone and Don’t Take Your Guns to Town are timeless Cash cuts; the bouncy Frankie’s Man, Johnny is his take on another timeless tune.

The Extras: A half-dozen standout rarities, including the very first take of Oh What A Dream from Cash’s first Columbia session, and the previously unavailable loping love song I’ll Remember You.

The Final Verdict: The last word in first albums.