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Razor-Sharp Pictures We Can't Escape,
This review is from: At San Quentin (Legacy Edition) (Audio CD)
The Legacy edition of At San Quuetin finally gives this legendary moment in country and rock music the treatment it deserved. With all the Legend and Legacy editions out there Johnny Cash was sorely missing one. Though San Quentin is the follow up to the successful Live At Folsom Prison it seems like the obvious choice for such an edition. Not only was there more material in the vault to flesh it out, it also gives a more well rounded view of Cash. At Folsom brought us a monumental live album of Cash the outlaw and Johnny the junky. The Folsom show focussed on that persona through out the concert.
At San Quentin gives us a more complete picture of the man Johnny Cash. Though here recovered from his pills habit we still get Cash the outlaw but we also get the Cash who symbolizes the power of redemption through his faith in God and humanity. Especially with the full show as it is restored here. Not only do we get the full Cash performance, the Legacy edition also recovered a lot of the extra entertainment of that evening. It places Johnny Cash firmly in his family setting. Despite his many falls he was a family man first and fore most. The full restoration of the show reflects that. Anyone who wants to try and understand Cash would do well to start here. Not only do we get Cash in his prime, we also get the full spectrum of what he represented. Needless to say with a persona as complex as Cash, that is a lot.
Many of us will find common ground here. Cash, like no other, knew how to portray humanity. He showed us our failures and our ability to redeem. That quality is probably why he got such warm welcome in prisons as San Quentin. Cash didn't judge, he knew there is just a fine line between him, us and the inmates. He also made it felt that line wasn't always that clear. The DVD featured here, an old BBC documentary on the show, underscores that. Very little performers will ever rise to the levels Cash had, even though his music is as he himself called basic "Boom-Chicka-Boom". The songs paint razor-sharp pictures we can't escape. This release should be in the collection of anybody who owned the original recording or one of its many re-releases, anyone serious about music or poetry, just anyone with a feeling of what it means to be alive.