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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars FINE COLLECTION FROM A TRUE AMERICAN PERFORMER, October 11, 2011
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This review is from: Bootleg 3: Live Around the World (Audio CD)
This is the third in the "Bootleg" series of Cash Recordings. Unlike the first two volumes, this consists entirely of live recordings, all fairly rare to rare, over a 23 year span, and most all of them (37 of 53 tracks) unreleased until now, from 1956 through 1979. There's 70 and 76 minutes of music, per disc, approximately in this set. The sound varies from location and year, but is okay to good. Similar to Vol. Two, this set is in a standard double jewel case. The 20 page booklet lists details of each concert, and contains an overview of Cash and this music by Dave Marsh. There's also a number of period b&w and color photographs. This set shows Cash's development as a performer, from his earliest concerts, on through to relative superstar status, to Cash becoming a figurehead of "American" music. Accompanying him is his wife, June Carter Cash, and a group of fine musicians.

Beginning, on Disc One with recordings from the "Big 'D' Jamboree" in 1956, with great renditions of "I Walk The Line", "and "Get Rhythm" (especially), Cash shows that even early on he was a warm, honest performer. These early tracks are good examples of Cash's early performance style-straightforward and honest.

Tracks from the "New River Ranch", in 1962, contain standouts like "I Still Miss Someone", "Cotton Fields", "Perkins Boogie" (named after guitarist Luther Perkins), and "The Rebel". These are more good examples of Cash connecting with people in his no nonsense, plain, singing style.

The songs from the Newport Folk Festival show Cash in a slightly different mode. Here he performs tunes from across a broad stylistic range, but plays acoustic guitar, and without a drummer. Good versions of "Big River", "Folsom Prison Blues", "the old folk/skiffle tune "Rock Island Line" (made popular by Lonnie Donegan), Dylan's "Don't Think It's Alright", and going way back to the Carter Family era with "Keep On The Sunnyside".

Many people don't know (or have forgotten) that Cash paid a visit to U.S. soldiers in Southeast Asia, at the height of that war in 1969. Among some fine songs are "Cocaine Blues", "Jackson", and "Ring Of Fire". While everyone will have their favorites, being of "Vietnam age", these tunes, especially, ring with special feeling and authenticity.

Disc Two is about half filled with songs from Cash's performance in Washington, D.C., at The White House, in 1970, with an introduction by then President Richard Nixon. Even in this setting, Cash performs some fine songs like "Wreck Of The Old 97", "Jesus Was A Carpenter", "(There'll Be) Piece In The Valley (For Me)", and "Were You There (When They Crucified My Lord)". The tracks from Osteraker Prison in 1972 have Cash backed by a small, simple band to good effect. The two tracks under the heading "The Carter Fold" hark back to an earlier era with piano backing. The rest of the disc show Cash's style changing some, but still connected to his roots from his earlier days, with "City Of New Orleans" (from a CBS convention in 1973), "One Piece At A Time" (from Hiltons, Virginia in 1976), "Give My Love To Rose" (from the Wheeling Jamboree in 1976), and "I'm Just An Old Chunk Of Coal" (from the Exit Inn in 1979), by Billy Joe Shaver, who has released a number of fine albums. These tracks still show Cash as a fine interpreter and performer in the 1970's.

Together with June Carter Cash (who adds much with her vocals) and his fine band (and even family members), Cash proved on stage his ability to connect with the "everyman". His songs speak to hard times, some good times, and to the time in the hereafter. He had the ability to speak about life in terms everyone could relate to. The various styles of songs found in this collection show Cash as a master performer, but more than that, he was a treasure house of American music.

For anyone wanting a broad look at Johnny Cash on stage, this set will do nicely. This collection can sit alongside his other notable live releases, with it's true, honest, straightforward interpretations and traditions of life. Cash never forgot where he came from, and his early years made a lasting impression on him. He was a proud but humble man with the spirit of America running though himself and his music. And in these songs, from his early days into the '70's, we have many fine performances from a true American singer who was in touch with the traditions and spirit in all of us.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 12, 2011 3:04:05 AM PDT
Always a pleasure to read your insightful reviews of new releases. I'm looking forward to listening to this Cd when it arrives later this week.The bootleg series have added another valuable dimension to Johnny Cash's illustrious career.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 12, 2011 6:52:57 AM PDT
Richard-thanks for the kind words. This live set may be the best of the 3 releases so far. There's a lot of good music in the 53 tracks. Cheers.
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