Customer Review

203 of 211 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An American classic, May 26, 2005
This review is from: Johnny Cash Live at San Quentin (Audio CD)
Asking "Which Cash prison album is best: San Quentin or Folsom Prison?" is like saying "Which of your lungs is your favourite?". They're both essential to ANY music collection. (If pressed by a particularly menacing and armed inmate, I'd lean towards the more atmospheric FOLSOM.) Which one you like best will probably depend on whether you want a more comprehensive take on Cash's music (the love songs and gospel on this one) or one aimed square at his audience (the prison song laden "Folsom").

Read the glowing praise from Merle Haggard (or Marty Stuart if you want someone of more recent vintage) and look at any critic's list of "Essential" country music and this will be on it. Look at the better pop critics' lists and even they will recognize this as the epochal moment in music that it is.

HIGHLIGHTS:
Choosing the best tunes here is hard, but I'll try. As on Folsom, Johnny performs an actual prisoner's song (T. Cuttie's "I Don't Know Where I'm Bound"). Cuttie's lyric is a classic tale about "rambling" and the search for identity. The reaction to the title song's line "San Quentin, may you rot and burn in He*l" is a "goosebump" moment for me. The audience loved it so much they demanded he sing it again...immediately. (Afterwards Cash remarks "I'm starting to like it myself" with a grin...) "Wanted Man" is surprisingly "commercial" for a collaboration with Bob Dylan. The "funny" songs on this one are also better than "Folsom": "Starkville City Jail" and alltime classic "Boy Named Sue" (which the liners note was being performed for the first time at this show..Cash actually had to read the lyrics off a sheet). "Daddy Sang Bass" is a great number,too...no doubt because the lyric (from Carl Perkins) reflected Cash's own upbringing. It's abetted by June Carter Cash, Perkins himself, and the Statler Brothers' harmony.

LOWS:
No clunkers at all this time. There's nothing here I'd remove...and that includes the bonus songs. This is as perfect as it gets on a song by song basis.

BOTTOM LINE:
I hope you're looking at this for 1 of 2 reasons:
1) You came here to vote on reviews
2) You're updating the copy you have to the newer remastered version.

If it's because you don't actually own this, click "Buy this" and hope that no one sees you do it. If someone does, lie and say you HAD a copy but it was stolen and you're replacing it.ESSENTIAL to every music collection.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 12, 2012 5:11:59 PM PDT
Mary Ann says:
He and June Carter appeal to my romantic nature--what a duo and a real love story--meant for each other. He was so talented, so human, so flawed. This poor boy raised up by the wonder of that voice. I'm mesmerized by the prison performances; those boys actually thought he had shared their experience. I don't actually own this but I'm here to buy it.
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