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Johnny Cash at San Quentin Live
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Johnny Cash At San Quentin (Live)
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Audio, Cassette, Live, Original recording remastered, July 4, 2000
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At San Quentin is the 31st overall album by Johnny Cash, and a recording of a live concert given to the inmates of San Quentin State Prison. The concert was filmed by Granada Television. The album was a follow-up to Cash's previous live album, the critically acclaimed and commercially successful At Folsom Prison. On the original LP release, the song order was changed and several songs were cut, presumably for space reasons. Despite the title of the version released on CD in 2000 – At San Quentin (The Complete 1969 Concert) – the CD does not contain the entire concert uncut, but does feature additional tracks and running order that parallels the actual setlist. In 2010, the album was reissued on vinyl by Sundazed Records with the original Columbia catalog number LP 5362. The reissued Sundazed vinyl is an exact copy of the original record except that the back cover has a barcode and indicates it is a Sundazed issue. Performed but not included were the songs "Jackson" and "Orange Blossom Special", which are included in the video release of the show. Two songs were somehow slowed down by half a step ("Starkville City Jail" and "Blistered"), possibly due to using another tape machine while the tape on the original machine was changed. The album was certified gold on August 12, 1969, platinum and double platinum on November 21, 1986, and triple platinum on March 27, 2003 by the RIAA. The album was nominated for a number of Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year and won Best Male Country Vocal Performance for "A Boy Named Sue." Side 1 "Wanted Man" (Bob Dylan) "Wreck of the Old 97"* (arranged by Cash, Bob Johnston, Norman Blake) "I Walk the Line" "Darling Companion" (John Sebastian) "Starkville City Jail" Side 2 "San Quentin" "San Quentin" "A Boy Named Sue" (Shel Silverstein) "(There'll Be) Peace in the Valley" (Thomas A. Dorsey) "Folsom Prison Blues"
Top customer reviews
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!