Review: The Sound of Johnny Cash – JohnnyCash

One would suppose an album entitled The Sound of Johnny Cash to, well, sound prefer Johnny Cash. Come 1962, yet, it was increasingly tough to specify that sound. On Sun records in the late ‘50s, Johnny had a unique sound. It was part country, part rockabilly, and also all Cash. Guitarist Luther Perkins was no Chet Atkins or also Scotty Moore, and yet, despite technological restrictions, constructed a distinctive rockabilly influenced-style. During the verses he would typically tick-tock ago and forth in between the root and the fifth, and also in the breaks he would either play a straightforward chord-based chime in the top register, or a twangy riff low dvery own on the E and also A strings (Rock Island Line and also Folsom Priboy Blues are both fabulous examples wherein he does both in one solo). On bass, Marshall Grant would mainly underpin Luther’s tick-tock. Their producer, Sam Phillips, forbade drums, so Cash himself took an exciting method to acoustic-based rhythm playing. Rather than making use of bluegrass or delta blues-style fingerpicking, he shoved a heavy piece of paper between the strings and also the fretboard, even more muted the strings through his left hand, and also used his best hand to rake throughout the strings, giving a percussive clickety-clack. The outcome was a never-before-heard minimalist technique to country born of necessity: Boom-chicka-boom. The “booms” were Marshall and Luther, the “chicka” was Cash fundamentally playing drums on his guitar. Add to that Johnny’s lonesome, moaning baritone and you had absolute magic.

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Less than 4 years right into his Columbia contract, but, the “sound of Johnny Cash” had actually diversified considerably. His interest in the background of the south, led him to explore brand-new sounds, consisting of bluegrass on “Papa Played the Dobro,” or Civil War-era marching bands in “The Big Battle”. The enhancement of touring mate Johnny Western right into the recording studio carried more complex acoustic guitar arrangements right into the mix (check out Tennesview Flat-Top Box). Not surprisingly, through big studios and massive label budgets, the arrangements came to be grandiose and over-the-top, as well (Girl from Saskatoon anyone?). Most freshly, he had released Hymns from the Heart, which apart from Cash’s voice, and one song featuring the recently broadened Tenneview Three (through WS Holland on drums), was totally lacking the “sound of Johnny Cash.”

One would suppose, then, that The Sound of Johnny Cash to be a delibeprice return to create. The question is: is it? Opening tune Lost on the Desert, thrust by a booming 12-string acoustic guitar, would lead one to believe that, no, Cash has ongoing to go after even more mainstream fads, this time the renowned people sounds of groups like the Kingston Trio. As the album progresses, though, Lost is checked out to be a red herring. What unfolds over 11 more tracks is a go back to the boom-chicka-boom sound.

The album themes are acquainted, notably the high proportion of breakup tunes. Accidently on Purpose is a waltz where Johnny’s lover marries another; I Forgot More Than You’ll Ever Know tells a similar story, this time via bar-room piano leading the way; and Let Me Down Easy and Mr. Lonesome are exactly what their titles indicate. The highlight could be You Won’t Have Far To Go, which exemplifies Cash’s minimalism, providing a scant verse, chorus, a guitar riff (hardly lengthy enough to be understood a solo), and a repeat of the chorus. In it, a gambling male laments his best loss:

Love’s a gamble and I’m a gamblin’ guy I’ve done whatever to make you understand But the odds are high and also luck is running low Look for me you won’t have actually far to go

Elsewbelow, Cash retransforms to his familiar motif of life in the southern. Lost in the Desert is yet another tale of death in the desert (watch Hank and Joe and Me on Songs of Our Soil). At the same time, Leadbelly’s In Them Old Cottonareas Back Home, is a more comforting tale of a mother’s life in the midst of a tough sharecropper’s life (check out Suppertime and Are All The Children In).

What is interesting around this album, though, is that it doesn’t just remind us of the sound of Johnny’s past, rather it points the means forward to the future, also serving as a layout for his ultimate Man in Black persona. This is noteworthy initially in the three crime tales. The first, Jimmie Rodgers’ In the Jailhouse Now (later on made renowned in O Brvarious other Wright here Art Thou?), is a cautionary tale of crime and also gambling, which, with its upbeat tone and also enthusiastic call and also response vocals produced a good single. The second, Delia’s Gone, is a brutal, callous murder ballad, structure on his inrenowned Folsom Prison line, “I swarm a male in Reno just to watch him die”:

First time I shot her, shot her in the side Hard to let her endure, but through the second shot she died

The 3rd, I’m Free from the Chain Gang Now, is a tale of an innocent man’s liberation, although whether it is literal, or just in his mind is never made clear. What made Johnny so relatable was that he was passionate about justice, and yet always confirmed an knowledge of what it is that renders us perform the wrong point. In these songs, this dimension of his complicated personality emerges. It shouldn’t come as a surpincrease, then, that Cash went back to Delia and Chain Gang to good result in his American Recording years through Rick Rubin.

His 2 self-penned contributions likewise present Cash occurring some deep humility. In You Remembered Me, a wild man many thanks his lover for being faithful to him. Sing it Pretty, Sue updays his earlier hit Ballad of a Teenage Queen. In Ballad, the talented local girl runs off to Hollylumber only to rerotate home bereason she couldn’t bear to be apart from the humble boy in the candy save. In Sing It, the star (Sue) never before comes back. Instead, her jilted lover sits at house quietly sustaining the girl he once loved. You can’t assist but wonder if this is really a role reversal – Cash privately wishing that his wife, Vivian, would release him to the life of fame he had uncovered. More most likely it refers to Billie Jean Horton, widow of Cash’s finest frifinish Johnny Horton. She had actually recently finished their affair, claiming she wanted to focus on her career… in fact she was frightened by his willingness to leave his household for her and also his amphetamine use (she had actually checked out enough of that in her prior marriage to Hank Williams). Regardmuch less, his very own compositions expose the morally complex world in which Cash lived by 1962 – surrounded by fame, linked to his old rural life, a Memphis wife whom he had actually relocated to a big house in The golden state (and to whom he was unfaithful), a ballooning drug addiction and also a yearning for the old-time faith of his childhood.

In regards to the actual “sound”, this album satisfies, however is not really the old sound nor the new sound (that would certainly solidify on his following release). Overall, it is a go back to his minimalist sound, yet Columbia’s big-studio echo (driven by expensive reverb results devices), can never before match the natural echo discovered in the Sun Studio’s vocal booth (the claustrophobic tiled bathroom of an old barber shop). Strangely, WS Holland, introduced on Hymns from the Heart, does not show up on this release, so aget we’re earlier to the Tennessee Two complemented by studio musicians. After the blandness of Hymns from the Heart, though, Sound is a breath of fresh air.

4.5/5

Other Songs from the Era:

A Little At a Time – Released in breakthrough of the album as a b-side to In the Jailhouse Now, this is a truly magical song. Led by a 12-string guitar lead riff, it’s closest to album opener Lost in the Desert as they share an early 60’s individual vibe. The male backing vocals are perfectly balanced, and the lyric is heartrdamaged Johnny at his best: “Stop loving me a tiny at a time…”Delia’s Gone (Alternating Take) – An different take of Delia’s Gone is rather various. The music is simplified, rerelocating the backing vocals and the vital readjust. Especially, the vital 3rd and also 4th verses are recovered. In these, we uncover Delia to be a loosened womale who drove Johnny to murder. Without these verses, as on the album, Johnny appears to murder her for no evident factor. Both takes are wonderful interpretations of this typical tune. Available on the Legend box set.Danger Zone – An unreleased cheating song: “Dangerous to organize you, innocent hearts at stake, just how long can we go on, once innocent hearts will certainly break.” I wonder wright here he got the impetus for this one? There’s an old story around just how Neil Young’s wife was none also happy when he penned Cinnamon Girl. I’m guessing Vivian had a comparable reactivity to this one (if Cash even let her know around it). Available on Bear Records releasesBlue Bandana/So Doggone Lonesome – An unreleased pair of tunes by The Tennescheck out Three. Just what you’d mean, Blue Bandana is a softly meandering instrumental, while So Doggone Lonesome is a rockin’ important variation of Johnny’s Sun-era tune, remarkable for its overdubbed electrical guitars, and Holland’s unique snare sound. Available on Bear Records sets.So Do I/Shamrock Doesn’t Grow in California – More unreleased tunes from the era. So Do I is an original Cash moaner with some nice lead playing by Perkins. Shamrock doesn’t come together quite the very same way. This unfiniburned tune proceeds Johnny’s newfound interemainder in Ireland also (watch Forty Shades of Green). Background vocals were included to the mix, however the tools drop out on the verses. Cash’s vocal is still rather stormy, so one can’t wonder if he intended to re-document this tune, but never acquired about to it. Available on Bear Record Sets.Bonanza!/Pick a Bale O’ Cotton – Johnny penned his own lyrics to the famous TV layout song. A fun timeless with a blistering opening riff from Luther. Available on Ring of Fire: The Best of Johnny Cash. The b-side is an additional great cotton song showing Johnny’s youth in Arkansas. Driven by banjo and snare drum. Available on the Legfinish box set and Singles, Plus.The Shifting Whispering Sands Part II – Johnny took an initial crack at this via Bonanza’s Lorne Greene. Lorne review the narrative in a baritone deeper than Johnny’s and also Johnny sang the chorus. They sound good together, however it’s a bombastic, over-produced tune as well, with thick choral voices. Perhaps intended as a companion to Bonanza!, later on, Lorne’s vocals were scrubbed and also it was re-blended with even more echo for True Tales of the Wild West. Available on Bootleg Vol. 2.There’ll Be Peace in the Valley (For Me)/Were You Tbelow (When They Crucified My Lord) – This glorious gospel-themed 45rpm single introduces a brand-new Johnny Cash sound. On these 2 gospel standards he groups up via the Carter Family, via whom he typically toured. Although it would certainly be several years before Cash would marry June Carter, the Carter Family would currently become Cash’s main female backing vocalists. On Peace in the Valley, Anita takes the lead on the chorus, her mom and also sister backing them up. The sound is marvelous… a gentle acoustic arrangement highlights Johnny’s flawmuch less baritone until Anita soars out of heaven. The b-side is an Easter classical. The technique is similar to the a-side: Johnny sings the verses, Anita leads the chorus through oh-so-sly blues notes (“oh, occasionally it reason me to tremble”). The four-part harmony when they come in together is magical. The plan adds brand-new dimensions, though. Starting off a cappella, it grows, including gentle drums, bass, guitar, and that Carter Family signature, the autoharp. Here then emerges a brand-new classical Cash sound. Also, don’t miss out on Maybelle Carter’s shining minute on the third verse. Such an development over Hymns from the Heart. Available on Ring of Fire: The Best of Johnny Cash.

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Live at New River Ranch, Rising Sun, Maryland – Salso tracks along with on-stage dialogue consist of this 17-minute set released on Bootleg Vol. 3. The audio high quality isn’t great, but it’s a wonderful glimpse right into the distinction in between Johnny’s recording and also live sound at the time. You gain classics (I Still Miss Someone, I Walk the Line), a recent track (Cotton Fields), oldies from the Sun days (Rock Island Line, Counattempt Boy), an critical (Perkins Boogie), and also his perennial set-closer, The Rebel – Johnny Yuma. The dialogue is hilarious – he impersonates a skipping Ercolony Tubb record and also Elvis Presley wannabes. If anything, though, the collection reveals the result his dependence on amphetamines was having. Eexceptionally song is played fast and wild, building one upon the other till Johnny Yuma practically falls apart at the seams. The collection is also remarkable as a very early record of the Tennescheck out Three backing up Johnny. Interestingly, on I Still Miss Someone, Holland actions earlier on drums, and Johnny keeps the rhythm the way he offered to in the Sun days, by strumming like a locomotive throughout his muted guitar strings.