Johnny Cash – Original Sun Singles ’55 –‘58

January 01, 1970




This is not your NPR’s Johnny
Cash. This is the lean mean amphetamined Johnny cash whose emergence as a light
in the hip hop-isphere (Johnny Cash Remixed) is no surprise to anyone
who saw him or films of him in concert during the years these recordings were



This is the Johnny Cash who so badly needed to get out of
tiny Dyess, Arkansas
that he joined the Air force and went all the way to Korea to do so. This is the Cash
who primed himself in a Flint
Michigan auto factory working up
the kind of grit and resentment that would drive his determination to never go
back to either place even if he often ended up out of his head or deep in the
muck. Sometimes both.



All that power and desperation, the panic, the tense fear,
the all out release and salvation is packed into just about each of and every
one of the “A” and “B” sides of Johnny Cash’s Sun Label singles. A big dose
comes right out of the box with Cash’s first single “Cry Cry Cry” which sets
the tone for the spare instrumentation of the Tennessee two, bassist Marshal Grant and
guitarist Luther Perkins. Ostensibly, Cash also
played guitar but at the time the two barely made one real guitar player
between them. But it wasn’t much different from the way Elvis
and Buddy worked it and though Holly and his Crickets were technically much
better musicians than the Two or the Hillbilly Cats, Johnny’s gang benefited
from the unique combination of Cash’s one-of-a-kind voice and style, Grant’s
steady percussive thud and Luther’s simple straightforward rhythm-based leads
and support (“Luther Played The Boogie Woogie). These guys played like working
men who only got to play the music they loved when they had time and they only
had time when they put in a dog’s hours at some soul-cracking job and made time. Which is exactly the kind of guys they were and, essentially, the kind
they remained throughout their lives.



The man singing “I Walk The Line” is a man not so much
incapable of handling the demands of a high-spirited woman but who is spending
so much time just trying to get by in life without flipping out that he’s
worried she just may be the one to bring home that very last straw. If he blows
his top because “everybody’s baby but mine is coming home” (“Train Of Love”) or
because “breaking hearts and telling lies is all you know” (“There You Go”) he just may end up singing the “Folsom Prison Blues.” If he does wise up it’s barely
enough. He’s still the same poor sap chasing her skirt trail in “Big River.”



With the wonders of technology not only do musical genres
not have to die but the original recordings of some of their originators and
early practitioners don’t have to either. It’s a major factor in the general
awakening to the fact that there’s really no such thing as a dead music.



No one has to be told that Johnny Cash is an important part
of the fabric of American pop music. Or that he was a dynamic performer and powerful
personality whose cult was and is as strong and loyal and forgiving as Elvis’
is even if its huge numbers don’t quite match Presley’s. But it does need to be
said that it’s time to stop thinking of music as having a “sell by” date.
Especially in the audio enhanced form of this collection – so far the absolute
best sounding collection of this material available – these songs are vital and
utterly satisfying. There are the ones you’ll never forget – “Line”; “Folsom”;
“Get Rhythm” – the ones you might have needed
reminding of – “I Forgot To Remember To Forget” – and ones like “Train Of Love”
or “Thanks A Lot” that you may be hearing for the first time. If that’s the
case then that alone makes the thing worth your nickel. There are plenty of
other reasons of course. But, again, there are some things no one should need
to be told:



Don’t smoke when you’re gassing up your car. Don’t make
toast when you’re in the bathtub. Get this CD.



Standout Tracks: “You’re The Nearest Thing To Heaven”; “Big River”



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