Johnny Cash: Bear’s Sonic Journals: Johnny Cash, at the Carousel Ballroom April 24, 1968 (Legacy/BMG/Renew) - review | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Wednesday, May 25th, 2022  

Johnny Cash

Bear’s Sonic Journals: Johnny Cash, at the Carousel Ballroom April 24, 1968


Jan 24, 2022 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

On April 24, 1968, Johnny Cash took a smaller version of his touring group into San Francisco’s Carousel Ballroom, where only about a third of the 3000-capacity venue was filled. As this recording shows, though, Cash made it as special to this audience as he would have for a larger hall, and those gathered, as they shouted out requests, loved him for it.

Cash saw his career as being on the wane at this point, having no idea that the album At Folsom Prison, set for release roughly two weeks later, was about to catapult him to a new peak that would forever alter his career. It’s a detail that makes At the Carousel Ballroom April 24, 1968 doubly valuable, and all the more fascinating. Having appeared on the Joey Bishop TV show in L.A. the night before, Cash walked onstage to a hippie audience at the Carousel Ballroom, a venue that was run by a musicians’ collective that included Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and others. Pioneering soundman Owsley Stanley, known as Bear, handled that night’s sound mixing and recorded the show, adding it to the recordings he referred to as his Sonic Journals. Bear elected to set Cash in the left channel and the Tennessee Three on the right for the recording, resulting in a rich mix that ensured no loss of any musician’s contribution.

Over the course of this show’s 28 songs (Bear recorded a second set as well that, sadly, no longer exists), Cash and the Tennessee Three lit up the Carousel with plenty of highlights that included a fiery “Cocaine Blues,” Bob Dylan’s “One Too Many Mornings” (which had not been released at the time of the show), a lively “Jackson” with wife June Carter Cash that had everyone clapping along, and a “Ring of Fire” that brought a rousing cheer with its opening. Truly, though, this entire set can be enjoyed as a string of highlights, as Cash played to this smaller crowd with all he had to give, and it’s clear on this recording how much it meant to them. (;

Author rating: 8/10

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