Home Read Classic Album Review: Johnny Cash | Johnny Cash is Coming to Town...

Classic Album Review: Johnny Cash | Johnny Cash is Coming to Town / Boom Chicka Boom

These two ’80s titles are surprisingly satisfying minor entries in the icon's catalog.

This came out in 2003 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


If the music biz has a motto, it’s this: Any good idea is an idea worth stealing. Of course, this isn’t always a bad thing. At least not for consumers.

Consider Johnny Cash’s back catalog. Over the past year or so, Sony Music has revamped, remastered and reissued a whole whack of his classic titles, generating considerable praise, along with profit. Now, competitor Universal is getting into the act, dishing up a handful of ’80s and ’90s releases in its catalog. Granted, these are no-frills affairs in comparison, but hey, you won’t catch me complaining about anybody who wants to reissue classic Cash cuts. Here are two titles in the series:

Johnny Cash is Coming to Town /
Boom Chicka Boom

FIRST ISSUED: 1987 / 1989.

THE STORY: After nearly 30 years on the same label — CBSThe Man in Black move to Mercury in the mid-’80s after being unceremoniously dumped. His first two releases for the new label, Johnny Cash is Coming to Town and the aptly titled Boom Chicka Boom, are hardly pinnacles of his career. But they are both surprisingly satisfying, albeit unspectacular works that capture Cash as he searches for a way to remain contemporary without sacrificing his traditional Nashville roots.

HIGHLIGHTS: A few years earlier, Cash had covered some tracks from Bruce Springsteen’s stark, dark Nebraska. Here he gives Elvis Costello a shot, revamping The Big Light (from King of America) into a big country-gospel hoedown and applying his traditional two-step twang to the then-unreleased Hidden Shame. Solid covers of Sixteen Tons and Guy Clark’s Heavy Metal (Don’t Mean Rock and Roll to Me), along with the lighthearted original tales like A Backstage Pass and Farmer’s Almanac, make this two-for a worthy addition to your collection.