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):
There’s never a bad time to get re-acquainted with the Man in Black’s back catalog. Here’s one of the entries:
YEAR: 1965, during one of Johnny Cash’s bleakest periods — he was addicted to speed, got busted for drug smuggling in El Paso, was getting divorced and had accidentally started a forest fire in California.
FACTS: Call it How The West Was Sung. Perhaps wishing to return to a simpler time, the 33-year-old Cash delivers a double album of 20 classic cowboy songs, new Western originals and spoken-word passages a la Marty Robbins but with more true grit.
HIGHLIGHTS: This album yielded no big hits, but there are plenty of timeless tunes, including Bury Me Not On The Lone Prairie, Streets Of Lardedo, Johnny Reb, The Ballad Of Boot Hill and, best of all, the riveting death-penalty countdown lament 25 Minutes To Go.
EXTRAS: A high-spirited leftover called Rodeo Hand and an unreleased, minute-long Appalachian instrumental of Stampede.
VERDICT: Perhaps not a bull’s-eye, but not far off the mark.