Dec 28, 2012
Johnny Cash left Sun Records in 1958 after seven albums and many successful singles when Columbia Records offered him something that Sun did not: the ability to release a gospel album. Released in 1959, Hymns by Johnny Cash was the second album of Cash’s career at Columbia, one which spanned more than three decades and produced some of the best and most well-known country music ever produced.
The Complete Columbia Album Collection compiles every one of Cash’s releases for the label from 1958 through 1990, featuring 61 albums on 63 CDs and including a 28-song compilation of his earlier Sun recordings, and a double-disc set of non-album singles and guest performances. It’s an exhaustive collection from an artist who deserves the complete package treatment. All the staples are here—the Columbia debut, The Fabulous Johnny Cash; At Folsom Prison; Hello, I’m Johnny Cash; the two Highwayman albums he released with Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson—but what is most interesting and inspiring about Cash’s complete Columbia output is its diversity. There were concept albums (1964’s Bitter Tears: Johnny Cash Sings Ballads of the American Indian and 1972’s America: A 200-Year Salute in Story and Song, among others). There were soundtrack albums, such as 1973’s The Gospel Road. There was a live album recorded in a Swedish prison. There’s a children’s album (1975’s The Johnny Cash Children’s Album), and not one, but two Christmas albums. Comprehensive liner notes, with history and recording information helps one parse through the catalog. Obviously, with any release of this magnitude, there will be things that one skims over, picking and choosing individually different ways to examine Cash’s Columbia career. But there are decades of material here and plenty to revel in for years to come. (www.johnnycash.com)
Author rating: 10/10
Average reader rating: 10/10