Johnny Cash – From Memphis To Hollywood: Bootleg Vol. 2

January 01, 1970



Those who
only know Johnny Cash from the decades when he straddled the 20th century
country and pop music charts like a behemoth, might find it hard to believe
that’s the same fella, laughing nervously and promising to play your favorite
song (or “learn it if we don’t know it”) on his 1955 radio show for
Memphis’ KWEM. From Memphis To Hollywood:
Bootleg Vol. 2
, a two-CD set, unearths a fascinating 15-minute broadcast by
a peach-fuzzed Cash, fresh out of the Air Force and stumbling over a commercial
for aluminum awnings by the outfit that employed him at the time. Backed by the
Tennessee Two-Luther Perkins on guitar and Marshall Grant on upright
bass-“Wide Open Road” is pitched so high it fails to take full
advantage of Cash’s ace in the hole, his trademark, ultra-low baritone. A
truncated “Luther’s Boogie” draws an apology from Cash: “Kinda
cut you off short there, Luther, didn’t mean to.” An ad read by KWEM DJ
“Texas” Bill Strength ballyhoos the
Big Country Jamboree the following night at Memphis’ Overton Park Shell with a lineup
that headlines current superstar Webb Pierce along with house-warming slots by
Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash.


When Cash
cut the eleven 1955 demos included here, he was playing to his strengths. A
stripped-down early take of “I Walk The Line,” finds him singing the
first chorus as a tenor, then slipping down into his natural basement register
in the second. One of seven rarities from his years with the legendary Sun
Records label, “Leave That Junk Alone,” urges his hung-over
girlfriend to “lay down the bottle … and drink cool H2O.” Buried in
the middle of a treasure trove of unreleased sides Cash cut for Columbia in the ’60s is
“Thunderball,” a cinematic gem that might have found a home in the
opening credits for the fourth James Bond film in 1965. Did Johnny Cash lose a
quick-draw contest to Tom Jones for 007 franchise immortality? If so, it’s the
only gunslinging showdown where the man in black came out second best.


DOWNLOAD: “Big River,” “One
Too Many Mornings” JUD COST



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