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The Essential Johnny Cash Limited Edition, Original recording remastered

4.7 out of 5 stars 303 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Limited Edition, Original recording remastered, February 12, 2002
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Product Description

The only 2-CD collection to date to span his entire career, 36 tracks from Hey Porter to his collaboration with U2, The Wanderer . And in between? I Walk the Line; Get Rhythm; Ballad of a Teenage Queen; Big River; Ring of Fire; Guess Things Happen That Way; I Still Miss Someone; Don't Take Your Guns to Town; Daddy Sang Bass; A Boy Named Sue; It Ain't Me, Babe and Jackson with June Carter Cash, and more.

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It's a great and perhaps impossible challenge to encapsulate the highlights of Johnny Cash's vast musical catalog in a two-CD, 36-song collection like this. Yet, though it barely scratches the surface, 2002's The Essential Johnny Cash--part of a series of compilations and reissues celebrating Cash's 70th birthday--does present three-dozen satisfying and balanced snapshots of some of the Man in Black's most memorable work for the Sun, Columbia, and Mercury labels. Above all else, these 36 selections are wonderful reminders of Cash's rustic eclecticism. Cuts range from '50s Sun rockabilly classics like "Hey Porter" and "I Walk the Line" to '60s country-folk gems like "The Ballad of Ira Hayes" and Cash's memorable duet with Bob Dylan on Dylan's "Girl from the North Country." Also included are more recent samplings of Cash's celebrated collaborations, including "Highwayman," which he recorded in 1984 with Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson as part of the on-again, off-again supergroup the Highwaymen, and "The Wanderer," a fervent gospel collaboration with U2 that appeared on the band's 1993 album, Zooropa. --Bob Allen
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 12, 2002)
  • Ltd Rmst ed. edition
  • Original Release Date: February 12, 2002
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Limited Edition, Original recording remastered
  • Label: Sony Legacy
  • Run Time: 106 minutes
  • ASIN: B00005Y1M2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (303 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,292 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAME on September 18, 2003
Format: Audio CD
This double-CD version of "The Essential Johnny Cash," not to be confused with a three-CD set with the same title that came out a decade earlier, was issued to commemorate Cash's 70th birthday. Consequently, it has ended up serving as a fitting tribute album to remember the Man in Black who died this month. It provides a more than adequate look at his career from 1955-1993, which, unfortunately, does mean it stops before his brilliant 1994 recording "American Recordings." However, this is a minor point because that is an essential Johnny Cash album in its own right, along with the Sixties albums "At Folsom Prison" and "At San Quentin." However, for someone who discovers that they do not have a Johnny Cash album in their music library, this is certainly a good place to start.
This version of "The Essential Johnny Cash" focuses on the early years, with the vast majority of tracks coming from the 1950s and 1960s. Actually, there is only one track after 1986, which would be "The Wanderer," recorded with U2 in 1993. However, it is hard to argue with covering the first two major peaks in Cash's career like this and to leave the single album assessment of the final renaissance he enjoyed in recent years, exemplified by his cover of Nine Inch Nail's "Hurt," for down the road. The main thing is that you get his signature tunes, "I Walk the Line," Man in Black," and the live version of "A Boy Named Sue" that officially marked his crossover from country to the popular consciousness of American music, as well as his celebrated covers of "If I Were a Carpenter" and his duets with his wife, June Carter Cash, such as "Jackson.
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Format: Audio CD
Johnny Cash was an American music icon known to the world as the "Man in Black." His booming deep bass voice is surely one of the most recognizable in country music history. While his vocal range was fairly limited, it was incredibly effective at conveying the plight of the common man. As befits a legend, there are several Cash collections available. This double disc is my favorite because it captures nearly all of the highlights of Cash's recording career between 1955 and 1993 (since then he put out four excellent albums on American Records as well).
This chronological collection begins with eights hits from his tenure at Sun Records (1955-1958). Each of these great recordings, such as his double-sided hit debut "Cry, Cry, Cry"/"Hey Porter," "I Guess Things Happen That Way," "I Walk The Line," and his biggest chart hit "Ballad Of A Teenage Queen" (ten weeks at number one!) features a "boom-chicka-boom" rhythm and sparse instrumental backing by Luther Perkins and Marshall Grant (also known as the Tennessee Two). If you are looking for more music from this period, I suggest Varese's double-disc, forty track Complete Sun Singles.
Cash left Sun in late 1958 and signed with Columbia in hopes of occasionally recording his first love, gospel music, which Sun owner Sam Phillips would not allow. Cash's productive Columbia tenure (which ended in 1986) makes up 26 of the remaining 28 recordings.
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Format: Audio CD
This collection was released in conjunction with Cash's 70th birthday, and the CD booklet is filled with testaments to the Man in Black from the likes of Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard to Paul McCartney, Bono, Chrissie Hynde, Keith Richards, Elvis Costello, Ray Davies and Kirk Hammett. Anyone who can be an influence on such diverse artists as these has been doing something right since first stepping into Sam Phillips' Sun Studios in 1955.
The set leans awfull heavy on Cash's Fifties and Sixties material. Tracks 1-8 are from his tenure at Sun. The rest of disc one and the first seven tracks of disc two take us through the end of the Sixties. The only track from the past fifteen years is "The Wanderer," taken from U2's 1993 Zooropa album. What's missing is any of Cash's Nineties work with Rick Rubin.
But if you're looking for an inexpensive overview (with an emphasis on the hits) of one of country music's most influential artists, you can't go wrong here. (I would have given this five stars, but disc one is only 46 minutes and disc 2 is only 59 minutes.) HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
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By Reader on July 27, 2004
Format: Audio CD
I'm not fan of country music, but Johnny Cash isn't your average country singer. . . he incorporates everything music should be.

As a total metal fan, I never in a million years expected myself to buy country albums. But there I was in HMV one day and I Walk The Line came over the speakers. I know instantly that is was Johnny's singing because my mum was a fan. I abandoned the metal section and picked up the CD which I am now reviewing. It's interesting the amount of metal icons who cite Mr Cash as their inspiration and idol. Metallica's James Hatfield and Slipknot's Shawn Crahan are two mentioned on the inside cover of the CD booklet. I can see why they love him.

Johnny's voice is cool and calm. He is the only singer I listen to who can be tough yet gentle at the same time. Here is a man that judging only by the sound of his voice you'd know not to mess with, yet his lyrics show a man with a genuine heart. This album had classics like I Walk The Line, Don't Take Your Guns To Town, Ring Of Fire, One Piece At A Time and Man In Black.

The songs are so simple yet genius. In 50 years time people will still be listening to Johnny's music and it will still sound as fresh as it does now. That's more than cane be said about bands these days who poke fun at country music yet can't write their own songs.

Respect, Johnny, you're a legend. Folks, buy this album. If there was ever money well spent it's on this CD.
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