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Johnny Cash Live at San Quentin Extra tracks, Original recording remastered, Live
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Johnny Cash At San Quentin (Live)
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No less than nine unreleased tracks highlight this first-ever release of Johnny's COMPLETE 1969 concert at San Quentin, which also includes unpublished photos of the show, a personal reflection from Johnny and Marty Stuart's new notes featuring an interview with ex-San Quentin inmate Merle Haggard! This was the only Cash album to reach #1 on the charts, partly due to the surprise hit A Boy Named Sue but more due to the way Johnny connects with the audience. A classic!
While Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison, the 1968 album that made Cash a household word, spent only two weeks at No. 1, this 1969 follow-up topped the charts for 20 weeks. As with Folsom, the San Quentin LP had to be edited due to space limitations. Now, 31 years after the fact, the show can at last be heard in true perspective. All the original performances hold up, including the album's hit single: Shel Silverstein's "A Boy Named Sue," presented unbleeped for the first time. Equally impressive are the eight restored tracks and unexpurgated between-song patter. Cash's opening renditions of "Big River" and "I Still Miss Someone" are bracing. So are four closing songs teaming Cash with his complete performing troupe (the Carter Family, Carl Perkins, and the Statler Brothers). Their gospel performances ("He Turned the Water into Wine," "The Old Account," and an early version of "Daddy Sang Bass") are electrifying, as is a concluding medley featuring everyone. Cash is presented here at his roaring, primal best. --Rich Kienzle
Top customer reviews
JOHNNY CASH AT FOLSOM PRISON seems more famous because of his early, classic hit, "Folsom Prison Blues," and it is prominently featured in the 2005 movie, WALK THE LINE; but JOHNNY CASH AT SAN QUENTIN is the album containing the debut of another, equally famous song, "A Boy Named Sue," and it was a bigger hit on the sales charts when it first was released, nearly 40 years ago.
This re-issue, re-master is a very nice CD! It has the entire concert, for the first time, and is nearly one hour long! It has more guest musicians, beyond June Carter, there is also her mom and sisters, and also the Statler Brothers.
Some of Johnny's very early songs seem more appealing to me on AT SAN QUENTIN. Some of his lesser known songs from the 1950's sometimes seem very dated to me, but they seem more revved up on AT SAN QUENTIN, and with repeated listening, I like them more each time I hear them on this live album.
I also like that AT SAN QUENTIN has many Gospel tunes, many of my favorite Johnny Cash Gospel songs, at that! Though sometimes the backup vocals are mixed a little too low in volume, you can still hear the pitch perfect harmonies of the Carter women--beautiful singing, indeed!
The drummer and guitar player are more energetic and dynamic on AT SAN QUENTIN, than on AT FOLSOM PRISON. Sometimes they almost get too rowdy, but mostly they complement the songs well. The guitar player has an added edge of electric guitar distortion, which really gives the musical texture a little more of a rock-n-roll attitude.
The CD booklet has many b/w photos of the day, and tells a lot about the event, (similar to the AT FOLSOM PRISON re-issue, re-mastered CD).
There is some cussing, so be aware of that. Apparently, this concert was being filmed for the BBC from England, but their cameramen and crew get in Johnny's way, onstage, and block Johnny from his audience of prisoners, so he gets irate. There is a photo of Johnny angrily flashing his middle finger.
I would recommend buying both AT SAN QUENTIN and AT FOLSOM PRISON, but if I had to choose only one, I would start with this one, JOHNNY CASH AT SAN QUENTIN.
I can also highly recommend Johnny Cash's spoken word reading of the entire NEW TESTAMENT of the Holy Bible! This is a 16 CD set, that is priced very reasonably (at about $2 per disc, total). My favorite Gospel CD by Johnny Cash is GOSPEL GLORY, which is also a bargain priced CD, and it has many classic Gospel tunes, some of which are played on AT SAN QUENTIN!
THE LEGEND OF JOHNNY CASH may be the best CD to start with if you are new to Johnny Cash's works. It has tons of famous songs from his entire career, and is a CD collection from recent years, so presumably the re-mastering and technical aspects are as modern and as perfect as possible.
If you liked the WALK THE LINE film, or are a Johnny Cash listener, then you will thoroughly enjoy JOHNNY CASH AT SAN QUENTIN!
People have always lumped Johnny into the "country" category, but that's extremely misleading. Like other great artists, Johnny isn't so easily stereotyped and this live recording from San quentin in 1969 proves that this claim has been true for decades. If one must pigeonhole this legend, then how about tossing him into the "American Music" bin? It's true that Johnny was well versed in all forms of American music, from folk through blues, country, gospel and rock. He even had an appreciation of jazz, but one can only find subtle hints in the music he played. But rest assured - he went well beyond the confines of country.
Hot on the heels of his Live at Folsom Prison album in '68, San Quentin has quite a different song list and better performances. I like the Folsom set, but Johnny was not in his best form for that date, suffering from a sore, dry throat. The San Quentin show was even more confident and more aggressive. The CD format, which allowed producers to include all of the original concert, is a blessing.
Fortunately, the explicative from "A Boy Named Sue" was passed through this version unbleeped and although I don't need to hear SOB, it does fit the mood and makes the song flow better. Not only that, but the attitude behind the cursing makes the whole set more real. One can only imagine that the tension prior to and during these prison shows was different than the typical concert. The band/crowd interaction certainly has a personality all its own.
Johnny was a very down-to-earth person and that fact was reflected in his music. But he also was well traveled and was a very intellegent thinker. It's easy to listen to his latest offerings and see him as the sage icon, but if one goes back and listens to his old recordings, like San quentin, you'll see that he was well down the path decades ago.
This is not an easy or enjoyable recording, because the setting was not easy or enjoyable. But it is a tour de force with power and might. It has as much power today as it had in 1969. Get it now!