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The Legend of Johnny Cash

4.7 out of 5 stars 502 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 25, 2005
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Product Description

Johnny Cash's death at age 71 on September 12, 2003, nearly four months after the passing of his beloved wife and musical partner June Carter Cash, closed a career spanning nearly an even half a century. It launched a worldwide groundswell of grief and media attention comparable to that for a deceased head of state. Cash was far more than one of country music's greatest stars. While his lonesome baritone defied fad or fashion, his charismatic presence and flinty integrity made him an American cultural icon, a regular presence on TV, radio and in dramatic films, admired by the Greatest Generation through Gen-X and beyond. This Fall, 20th Century Fox will be releasing a film on November 18, 2005 based on the first 30 years of Johnny Cash's life. The film features several of the songs that appear on The Legend Of Johnny Cash including 'Cry! Cry! Cry!', 'Hey Porter', 'Folsom Prison Blues', 'I Walk The Line', 'Get Rhythm', 'Ring Of Fire' and his duet with June Carter 'Jackson'. Hip-O. 2005.

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This introduction to the Man in Black's catalog is about as fine a one as can be found on one disc, primarily because the 21 classic tracks span J.R. Cash's entire career, from his first rockabilly single, "Hey, Porter"/"Cry! Cry! Cry!" (Sun Records, 1955), to his last significant alt-country tracks (American Recordings, 2003). Though Cash had his peaks and valleys in the studio, what shines brightly on this collection is how constant--how unwavering--his creativity remained, whether he was writing and performing original material or interpreting the work of others. His voice, too, remained a majestic thing of wonder, even as Cash often sang off-beat; settled his bass-baritone somewhere around, if not on the note; and cared more about power and emotion than strict rules of measure--something that became especially important as illness changed his great oaken voice into a frail instrument. In this way, he was able to infuse novelty songs ("One Piece at a Time," "A Boy Named Sue") with undeniable cool and maintain the poetry of Kris Kristofferson's "Sunday Morning Coming Down" even in the awful advent of a gloppy, too-peppy string section. Other chestnuts here take on new dimension in retrospect. "Jackson," a duet with wife June Carter Cash, seemed almost comedic ("hotter than a pepper sprout") when it was released, but now reveals the couple's own white-hot sexuality, primarily in June's elegant, if straightahead vocal. The surprise of The Legend of Johnny Cash is how seamlessly the newer material blends with the seminal, and how full-circle it sometimes comes: Soundgarden's "Rusty Cage" doesn't seem markedly different from the quietly defiant songs that Cash defined himself with in the '50s and early '60s. Yet the compilation producers, like Cash himself, saved the best for last. "Hurt," Trent Reznor's poignant meditation on addiction, is devastating as written, but becomes a thing of terrible beauty in the ailing Cash's ravaged, autobiographical delivery. Sequenced as the final cut on the album, it ends with a kind of shocking void; stunning in its intensity, dropping the listener off a cliff of something very akin to grief. No artist, no matter what genre, could have planned a more haunting exit. --Alanna Nash
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 25, 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Hip-O
  • ASIN: B000BISBDY
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (502 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #389 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
The recently released "Legend of Johnny Cash" compilation is the first single-disc collection to cover the legendary Man In Black's entire career. While it would take literally a half-dozen CDs or more to cover every important piece of music Cash has made, this compilation offers the basics and is an excellent overview of his most important and classic work. The legendary Sun records hits, "Cry Cry Cry", "Hey Porter", "I Walk The Line" and "Folsum Prison Blues" are included here as well as "A Boy Named Sue", "Ring Of Fire" and "Highwayman" (his collaboration with Country legends Kris Kristoferson, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson). Also included is Johnny's cameo appearance from U2's 1993 "Zooropa" album, "The Wanderer" and to close out the disc, there are several tracks from his American Records series with producer Rick Rubin including the final hit "Hurt" (originally by Nine Inch Nails).

With that said, "the Legend of Johnny Cash" is an essential collection and offers an excellent brief history lesson of his most acclaimed work. For the few who have never heard of Johnny Cash, this CD is an excllent introduction to his music. For everyone else, this is probably the best collection of Cash music to date.
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Format: Audio CD
I own some of Johnny Cash's older albums as well as the spectacular 2-CD The Essential Johnny Cash. But since I didn't have any of his American recordings he did with Rick Rubin, I got The Legend of Johnny Cash for the six songs representing those albums. It's rather obvious that this collection was aimed at young people who have heard and liked Cash's music but wouldn't otherwise be caught dead in the record store's country music section (and who am I kidding; that includes me).

In that sense, it's a good CD. It includes the biggest of Cash's big hits: "Cry, Cry, Cry," "I Walk the Line," "Ring of Fire," "Hurt," etc. But as a definitive greatest-hits collection, The Legend of Johnny Cash falls well short. "I Still Miss Someone," "The Ballad of Ira Hayes," "The Rebel- Johnny Yuma," "The One on the Right is on the Left," and (probably most bafflingly) "Daddy Sang Bass" are all absent from here. What's more, "Folsom Prison Blues" is the *studio* version- anyone at all can tell you that the definitive version is the live version recorded at Folsom Prison itself. This CD is only an hour long- that leaves plenty of time for more deserving cuts. The six American Recordings songs collected here are all great, and I think I'm going to spring for the albums themselves. "The Wanderer," featuring U2, also made it on here; I think that's one of Cash's best ever.

If you want a single-disc Johnny Cash collection, you could do worse. But I still think that The Essential Johnny Cash is a better bet. Even though there's no American Recordings material on there, it still includes every other song this collection does, plus many, many more great songs.
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By J. karvis on December 30, 2005
Format: Audio CD
I have never been a big fan of country music. My main music of choice is of the heavy metal genre such as Black Sabbath and Judas Priest, and newer groups like nine inch nails, and the harder edged industrial stuff. I always thought Johnny Cash was kind of cool, but until today I never really listened closely to his music. I recently became curious about the CD, and was happy to get it as a Xmas gift. I went for a ride on this cold, cloudy day in late December, and it could not be a better day to introduce myself to the man in black's music. All I can say is this Cd, of what are his classic songs, is just brilliant, and timeless - a very enjoyable listen. The CD is a real gem, and I would suggest anyone who is even the least bit curious about Cash to go out and get this. To me, it's a work of art that deserves a spot on my shelf right alongside the other CDs from varoius genres that I consider essential classics.
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Format: Audio CD
I just bought this album this last weekend and have listened to it a number of times since. It is absolutely fantastic. As other reviewers have noted here, this is the perfect single disk collection of his work. I have a random mix of a couple of his albums plus some "greatest hits" disks, but none have come close to this one in encompassing his career and giving you nearly every track you would probably be looking for.

If you are a pretty serious Johnny Cash fan, then you almost certainly have all of these songs, so this disk may not be a "must have" for you. If, however, you are like me, a casual fan looking for a solid collection of his hits, then this is most definitely the one for you. Pick it up, you will not be disappointed.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
For those who are still unaware, Johnny Cash is a true American legend. His music has defied category, which makes it as easily accessible to fans of Kenney Chesney and Coldplay as it is to fans of Metallica and Eminem. For those interested in hearing his music, then "The Legend of Johnny Cash" is a fine place to start.

Spanning his entire recording carrer, which lasted from 1955 to 2003, the listener gets to hear Cash grow both musically and lyrically. On these 21 tracks, we get a glimpse of his life and legend. There are no standout songs on here. For me, it is really hard to pick a favorite song from Johnny Cash, as they are all classics.

If you're a new fan of Johnny Cash, then this is definitely a must-have CD. As for longtime fans, you, too will not be disappointed.

Grade: A+
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