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A great Johnny Cash twofer
on March 7, 2003
This CD reissues two lesser-known Johnny Cash albums, both from an era when his work wasn't given much respect. Still, anyone who gives this disc a spin will probably be pleasantly surprised.
"JOHNNY CASH IS COMING TO TOWN" (1987): Anybody wowed and mystified by Johnny Cash's "big change" in the 1990s, when he started covering edgy rock tunes must notta been paying attention during the '60s when he avidly championed Bob Dylan... Or here, when he tackled Elvis Costello's "Big Light." He also includes not one, but two songs by Texas singer-songwriter Guy Clark -- "Let Him Roll" and Clark's ode to construction machinery, "Heavy Metal." Admittedly, this isn't the high point of Cash's career, and the sometimes misguided production frequently falls flat, but it's still an interesting album, and worth checking out. A high point is his tribute to the founders of western swing, "W. Lee O'Daniel (And The Light Crust Dough Boys)" which thematically is a great country song, even if the horn arrangements and melodies are all wrong.
"BOOM CHICKA BOOM" (1989): Yeah, he's got that same old "boom chicka boom" rhythm going on behind him, but the songs sure veer off in some interesting directions. The opening track, "Backstage Pass To A Willie Nelson Show," affectionately makes fun of Willie and Waylon and their whole "outlaw" crew while "Farmer's Almanac," "Harley" and "Don't Go Near The Water" pursue political and environmental themes that are as pointed and on-the-nose as anything Johnny recorded in the Vietnam War era. The production is pretty simplified and stripped down, and it suits Johnny well. Good record... definitely worth checking out!