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Holiday Gift Guide Review: Johnny Cash, “The Complete Columbia Album Collection”

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Johnny Cash Box PackageAre you ready to add some Black to the red and green this Christmas?  If you are, you’ll be richly rewarded thanks to Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings’ Johnny Cash: The Complete Columbia Album Collection (88697 91047 2, 2012).  It’s no easy feat to distill the essence of an artist into one package, let alone when the artist in question is John R. Cash.   Yet this collection spanning 33 years (1957-1990), 61 albums and 63 CDs succeeds in revealing the man behind the black in all his many personas: God-loving spiritual truth-seeker, dedicated family man, empathetic folk hero, uninhibited wild man, outlaw cowboy.  So powerful a storyteller was Johnny Cash that many casual fans, even today, still believe he shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.  No matter that “Folsom Prison Blues” was “only” a song; to quote from Cash’s fourth Columbia long-player, Now There Was a Song!  There are many such triumphant songs here, along with many hidden gems and some missteps, too.  But once you immerse yourself in the three-plus decades of music created by this American original, you’ll likely find yourself thinking: “Now There was a Life!”

The Complete Columbia Album Collection by its nature only touches briefly on Cash’s first blush of fame at Sam Phillips’ Sun Records, and not at all on his dramatic rebirth as an elder statesman of rock and country at Rick Rubin’s American Recordings.  But it’s striking how consistent the artist was throughout his entire career.  His first few Columbia albums introduced a pattern that he would continue until the very end.  The Fabulous Johnny Cash (1958) blended J.R. Cash originals with songs of his contemporaries; Hymns by Johnny Cash (1959) took in sacred songs.  Songs of Our Soil (also 1959) focused on folk ballads, and Now There was a Song! (1960) explored the music of Cash’s forebears including Hank Williams and Ernest Tubb.  Ride This Train from later that year was his first true concept album, this one centering on the American west.  Each one of those album formats would be revisited by Cash time and time again, with all of those musical adventures included on the new box set.  There would be other excursions, too, into holiday collections, soundtrack recordings, live albums, and collaborative efforts with friends, family and friends who were close enough to be family.  But some things remained consistent through Cash’s 28-year tenure at Columbia Records: that resonant bass-baritone, love of God and country, and a refusal to capitulate to the times.  “To thine own self be true,” Cash quoted in a 1993 interview, and likely in others, too.  So there’s no Johnny Cash Disco Album here, and no Johnny Cash Sings the Swinging Hits of Today, either.  Instead, you’ll just find 63 discs of country-folk-rock-pop-gospel that might as well be filed simply under “Johnny Cash.”  Even if you own the exemplary, bonus-packed Bear Family box sets chronicling the artist’s first decade, this set is a necessary companion.

We’re diving in, after the jump!  Won’t you join us?

The first 19 albums in the set are all presented in their rare, original mono mixes.  Like all of the albums here, these titles have been crisply remastered by Vic Anesini.  A full 35 titles in the box are being released for the very first time on CD in the U.S., and these lesser-known entries in the Cash catalogue offer ample rewards and plenty of surprises.  Many of these “lost albums” come from the 1970s, and it’s easy to see why the singer would have been regarded as a “man out of time” during this period.  Though mileage may vary on these albums, none are wholly uninteresting or lack one or two great moments.

Complete Johnny CashThere are only minor nods to production techniques of the era, although one hidden treasure is 1975’s John R. Cash.  Produced by Gary Klein (Barbra Streisand, Glen Campbell, Dolly Parton), it features arrangements by Nick DeCaro and musical support from stellar LA session pros like Russ Titelman, Jerry Cole, James Burton and even the young David Foster.  Fellow singer/songwriters Ry Cooder and David Allan Coe also show up, and Klein encouraged Cash to explore some pop/rock songs that might have been unfamiliar to country listeners.  This wasn’t his first foray into this kind of material; 1974’s The Junkie and the Juicehead Minus Me had Cash taking on Cat Stevens’ “Fathers and Sons” as “Fathers and Daughters,” and Cash had famously championed Bob Dylan in the sixties.  On John R. Cash, though, he asserts a place in the folk pantheon for Robbie Robertson’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” and even better, brings striking verisimilitude to Randy Newman’s “My Old Kentucky Home.”  He also delivers a particularly sympathetic reading of Tim Hardin’s “The Lady Came from Baltimore,” and tackles Albert Hammond’s songbook with “Smokey Factory Blues.”  (The “It Never Rains in Southern California” man actually produced some tracks for Cash in 1973, including his own “Praise the Lord and Pass the Soup” as a duet with the Oak Ridge Boys.)  The most atypical track is son-in-law Jack Routh’s “Hard Times Comin’,” perhaps the closest Cash ever came to AM-ready soft rock.  Although Cash was uncomfortable with the album and its recording process, it can be viewed with the passage of time as a not entirely unsuccessful stab at connecting with a younger audience, and is all the more laudable for that.  There are no embarrassing moments on John R. Cash; rather, the album shows just how adaptable that authoritative voice really was.  Rick Rubin would famously revitalize Cash in his twilight years by pairing him with rock songs, but Brian Ahern and the album Johnny 99 were there first, in 1983, with the singer taking on Bruce Springsteen’s title track and “Highway Patrolman.”

You can also take in each of Cash’s concept albums.  Some are “merely” well-compiled collections of similarly-themed songs: spirituals, folk ballads, train songs or western songs, to name a few.  Others show off the full range of the singer’s ambitions, with sprawling narratives told via both story and song.  1967’s From Sea to Shining Sea has previously been overlooked on U.S. CD, an entirely self-penned song cycle drawing on the artist’s experiences in various U.S. states from Tennessee (“The Flint Arrowhead” and “Another Song to Sing”) to Florida (“Shrimpin’ Sailin’”).  Try listening back-to-back with 1977’s The Rambler, another concept album about travelling in which Cash intersperses another set of wholly original songs with dialogue from characters portrayed by Jack Routh, Routh’s then-wife (and Cash’s stepdaughter) Carlene Carter, and the young Rosanne Cash.  Like Springsteen after him, Johnny Cash’s vision of America always began and ended with its people and their contributions to the land and the national identity.  The compassion of his signature song “The Man in Black” is very much in evidence on his concept albums, whether secular or spiritual in nature.

Sealed copies of 1968’s The Holy Land on CDnow sell for nearly as much as this entire box set.  The Holy Land is a poignant, earnest travelogue narrated by Cash and his wife June “recorded on location” with titles like “Land of Israel,” “This is Nazareth” and the spoken-word “My Wife June at the Sea of Galilee.”  It makes a fine companion to 1973’s The Gospel Road, the soundtrack to the 20th Century Fox film starring Cash which recounted the story of Jesus Christ.  The film was also shot on location.  A couple of other soundtrack recordings are worth rediscovering, both from 1970: Cash’s song score for I Walk the Line, including a re-recording of that famous tune which inspired the movie, and Little Fauss and Big Halsy.

Johnny Cash - Everybody LovesBut those epic concept albums and off-the-beaten path soundtracks still aren’t the whole story.  The Man in Black persona that adorns so many posters and T-shirts naturally fails to take into account Cash’s sense of humor.  1967’s Everybody Loves a Nut is a welcome new addition to the U.S. Cash CD catalogue.  It’s anchored by a number of songs from Cash’s longtime friend Jack Clement that show the singer indulging in a bit of fun.  The zany title track (“Everybody loves a nut/The whole world loves a weirdo”) sits comfortably alongside “The One on the Left is on the Right,” which skews politically-inclined folk groups but has a bite itself.  And it’s not hard to picture Cash perched beside his sideman Del Wood’s rollicking barroom piano, entertaining the entire saloon with “Dirty Old Egg Sucking Hound” about a dog in the hen house!  To top it all off, Mad Magazine legend Jack Davis supplied the wild LP’s cover art (of course reprinted on the album’s mini-LP sleeve).  1976’s One Piece at a Time was titled after the clever if larcenous little ditty by Wayne Kemp, and Cash and Kemp were rewarded with a No. 1 country single for their trouble.  Of course, Cash was also frequently playful in his duets with June Carter Cash.  Though their Carryin’ On (1967) received a prior release on U.S. CD from Legacy, the belated 1973 follow-up Johnny Cash and His Woman appears for the first time here.

Singing with June and the Carter Family brought out the best in Johnny Cash.  So did performing in front of a live audience. His have been well-documented on CD, with Legacy having offered deluxe box set editions of landmark LPs At Folsom Prison (1968) and At San Quentin (1969).  Even the Swedish concert, At Osteraker Prison, (1972) received an expanded issue overseas, and in 2002, Legacy unearthed Live at Madison Square Garden for release.  (The album, recorded in 1969, is included here.)  With The Complete Columbia Album Collection, 1975’s London-recorded Strawberry Cake and 1978’s Concert in Prague (released in 1983) take their place alongside the others on CD.  A final live curio here is 1981’s West German concert The Survivors, in which Cash is joined by two more members of The Million Dollar Quartet, one-time Sun labelmates Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins.  That trio reunited with Roy Orbison as their No. 4 for a subsequent album, Class of ’55, on another label.  These later concerts don’t have the same palpable frisson as the prison shows, but there’s a certain delight to hearing the very Midwestern Cash singing “Destination Victoria Station” for his London audiences on Strawberry Cake.  Sure, the song tied in to a popular American restaurant chain of the same name, and Cash re-recorded a number of his old train songs for a Destination Victoria Station LP released on Columbia Special Products.  (That offbeat LP is, alas, not included here.)  But he offers the new song to London for its own Victoria Station and introduces it with a charming monologue on Strawberry Cake.  The Prague show is a more or less standard set, with big hits (“Folsom Prison Blues,” “Ring of Fire,” “I Walk the Line,” “Sunday Morning Coming Down”), and railroad and cowboy song medleys all handled agreeably by Cash and the Tennessee Three.  Pianist Earle Poole Ball plays Floyd Cramer’s melodic “Last Date” on this LP, very much in Cramer’s own style.

The Tennessee Three, of course, is a major presence on these discs.  Cash’s stalwart group began as the Tennessee Two, with Luther Perkins on guitar and Marshall Grant on bass.  They backed Cash on the box set’s very first disc, his Columbia debut The Fabulous Johnny Cash.  By 1962, two became Three with W.S. “Fluke” Holland on drums.  When Perkins died in 1968, Bob Wootton filled his considerable shoes and the boom-chicka-boom continued, unabated.  Marshall Grant departed the ranks in 1980, but prior to that point, the Tennessee Two or Three had accompanied Cash on nearly every single Columbia album.  Holland and Wootton continued on and off with Cash from that point on, with only Wootton appearing on Johnny 99 and the group disappearing from the studio discs made thereafter.  Nearly as prominent a presence in the box set is The Carter Family, with Mother Maybelle (who died in 1978) and Cash evincing a particularly strong rapport.  Keeping it all in the family, of course, Cash even worked with Nick Lowe on 1980’s Rockabilly Blues.  Lowe, Carlene Carter’s second husband following Jack Routh, produced his own song “Without Love” for Cash, and brought along the rockabilly revivalists of Rockpile for good measure on this underrated LP effort  Also on Rockabilly Blues, Cash duets with wife June on his daughter Rosanne’s then-husband Rodney Crowell’s “One Way Rider.”  Whew!

Cash Blue GuitarAll albums included in The Complete Columbia Album Collection are presented in their original album versions, meaning that there are no additional bonus tracks on any of these discs.  It’s refreshing to reacquaint oneself with the original LP versions of At Folsom Prison and At San Quentin, but some of the alternates and outtakes appended to past Legacy reissues are, indeed, missed.  There is bonus material in the box, however.  In addition to the 59 core albums, two new collections have been curated for this set.  The original Sun album Johnny Cash with His Hot and Blue Guitar has, in effect, received an expanded edition here.  His 1957 LP debut’s twelve tracks have been augmented by sixteen more Sun selections for a thorough (if incomplete) survey of Cash’s Sun tenure.  “I Walk the Line,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Give My Love to Rose,” “Hey Porter,” “Wreck of the Old 97” and “Big River” were all re-recorded by Cash for Columbia for the 1964 album I Walk the Line (Disc 12 here), but the deluxe Hot and Blue Guitar features the never-bettered Sun originals for comparison’s sake.  The box closes out with two discs entitled Singles, Plus.  This new compilation rounds up the non-LP singles recorded by Cash for Columbia between 1958 (“All Over Again”) and 1985 (“The Human Condition”) and adds a selection of Cash’s guest appearances from albums by Bob Dylan, The Earl Scruggs Revue, and Ray Charles.  Not every one of his duets is here, of course; too bad the world hasn’t had the chance to rediscover his most unusual harmonizing with Julie Andrews (!) on “Love Me Tender” (!!) from Andrews’ 1982 non-Columbia LP of the same name.  As it had with the Tennessee Three and the Carter Family, the mutual respect between Cash and his chosen musical partners clearly ran deep.

What’s missing in this summation of a life in music?  The alternate and outtake bonus tracks from Legacy’s previous CD reissues have been dropped.  Mono mixes have superseded stereo on the first 19 albums here.  In addition, none of Cash’s gospel albums for labels other than Columbia proper have been included, such as those for the Cachet, Priority and Word labels.  (For these albums, seek out Legacy’s Bootleg Volume 4: The Soul of Truth, released earlier in 2011.  It’s a necessary supplement to this box set, and includes three such albums in full, in addition to the usual Bootleg-style ephemera.)   Another “missing” title is The Lure of the Grand Canyon, co-credited to Cash and Columbia’s popular bandleader Andre Kostelanetz.  The 1961 album was built around an orchestral recording of Ferde Grofe’s “Grand Canyon Suite” in five movements, followed by an eleven-minute, spoken-word recitation by Cash.  Should this be considered an official part of the Cash canon?  That’s up for debate; even Bear Family Records overlooked the title in its 1994 box set dedicated to Cash’s concept albums.  Unavailable on CD, The Lure of the Grand Canyon is a curio, and seemingly destined to remain one.

Johnny Cash - The RamblerThe Complete Columbia Album Collection is impressively housed in a lift-off box, with each album’s original sleeve replicated in mini-LP form.  In a nice touch, original gatefold covers have been retained, too.   Rich Kienzle provides an introductory essay in the roughly 200-page softcover book, and a few pages have been dedicated to each album containing full-color cover artwork plus the track listing, discographical/chart annotation and personnel information.  Kienzle doesn’t gloss over Cash’s final days at Columbia, which saw the artist dismissed by Columbia Nashville Vice President and General Manager Rick Blackburn in 1986 after a 28-year tenure.  He picked up a new label (Mercury) almost immediately, and even returned to Columbia for 1989’s Highwayman 2, the final non-archival album in the box set.  In retrospect, Cash seems as pivotal a part of the Columbia roster as other long-run champs like Bob Dylan, Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, Miles Davis, Johnny Mathis or Bruce Springsteen.  But Cash himself professed to understand the label’s position at the time, and indeed, the music industry was in a very different place in 1986.

What remains is the music created during his extraordinary time at Columbia.  None of the sensationalism that sometimes plagued Cash’s career can be found here, just the enduring songs that are as much a part of the tapestry of America as those by Stephen Foster or Hank Williams.  In the song “Let There Be Country” from One Piece at a Time, Cash and co-writer Shel Silverstein name-check Tom T. Hall, Willie Nelson, George Jones, Porter Wagoner, Kitty Wells and Ernest Tubb, among other country music fixtures of the past and present.  Johnny Cash was always acutely aware of tradition, both as a musician and as an American.  He wasn’t afraid to celebrate his lineage and his country while giving a voice to the disenfranchised and misunderstood.  Cash has taken his place among the deceased likes of Tubb, Wells and Wagoner, but his singular voice still rings, loud and clear. The Complete Columbia Album Collection will likely remain the ultimate tribute to John R. Cash.

You can order The Complete Columbia Album Collection here!

Written by Joe Marchese

December 4, 2012 at 10:06

21 Responses

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  1. Nice job! Now I’m tempted to purchase this, even though it seems like a lot of Cash, and a lot of cash, too.

    ronfwnc

    December 4, 2012 at 11:44

  2. Look at importcds.com

    Yesterday their price was $184

    Kevin

    December 4, 2012 at 12:15

    • Oh boy, I can see already we’ll soon have a thread like the Tony Bennett one listing the dozens of songs that Columbia left out in their “Complete” collection!

      Just kidding. Although Columbia really shouldn’t have called that one “The Complete Collection” if they were going to leave things out. Here at least they called it “The Complete Columbia _Album_ Collection,” which is more accurate, and they don’t have to worry about leaving out all the extras. (But it does assume you don’t count the Bootleg releases as albums….)

      Mine arrived today but it is a Christmas gift so it goes away for three weeks. I can’t wait to pop it open though.

      steveinphilly

      December 4, 2012 at 16:31

  3. My copy is in the mail. I will be interested to find out if the official studio and live albums have the bonus tracks that were issued on official Columbia CDs over the past several years..

    It seems that they did not include the newer “bootleg” series (is that true?). Theose should have been included as they are now considered to be “official” Columbia issues

    Kevin

    December 4, 2012 at 12:18

    • It’s a beautiful set, Kevin, and the remastering is absolutely top-notch. I can’t imagine anybody being disappointed with the presentation or contents.

      See this paragraph, above: “What’s missing in this summation of a life in music? The alternate and outtake bonus tracks from Legacy’s previous CD reissues have been dropped.” Some of those past reissues had singles appended; these ARE included on the “Singles, Plus” disc. All other bonus tracks have been dropped, as all albums are presented in their original LP sequences only. None of the Bootleg Series titles are present. Hope this helps.

      Joe Marchese

      December 4, 2012 at 13:29

    • Oops, my reply immediately above was meant to be in reply to this comment.

      steveinphilly

      December 4, 2012 at 16:31

  4. “Cash re-recorded a number of his old train songs for a Destination Victoria Station LP released on Columbia Special Products. (That offbeat LP is, alas, not included here.)”

    Wait, what? Why isn’t Destination Victoria Station included–because it was a “special” album for sale at a restaurant chain, I suppose? I have it on vinyl, but it would have been nice to include here. After all, it does have songs that were newly re-recorded by Cash.

    Okay, I’ll quit my b**chin’ now!

    steveinphilly

    December 4, 2012 at 16:40

    • None of Cash’s “Special Products” albums are included, probably because they aren’t considered part of his primary canon. Another one that’s not here is his “Good Earth” LP, which was a promotional album made for a farmers’ pesticide campaign!

      noyoucmon

      December 4, 2012 at 18:43

  5. Identifying a specific list of missing tracks isn’t complaining at all. I’m sure everyone loves this set. It is very helpful to a collector to identify what is missing so they can decide whether they want to compile a supplement.

    A long thread of comments can be great on theseconddisc. It builds interest.

    So, if we have people who know details, and enjoy developing lists, perhaps they can post updates in more detail than the following:

    1. Stereo tracks of early albums (Source: Bear Family label boxsets)
    2. Complete Bootleg Series (source: CDs)
    3. Destination Victoria Station LP released on Columbia Special Products
    4. Bonus tracks from Columbia/Legacy reissues (need details)

    Of course, there are still many unreleased Columbia sessions, I am sure (e.g. complete Cash-Dylan sessions)

    Kevin

    December 5, 2012 at 08:46

    • add
      5. “Good Earth” LP, which was a promotional album made for a farmers’ pesticide campaign!

      Kevin

      December 5, 2012 at 08:48

      • I’ll look at my copy of Good Earth ASAP and try to provide some details.

        noyoucmon

        December 5, 2012 at 13:45

  6. I actually would love to see this list of missing tracks/albums built for the exact reason you mention, Kevin. I’m a regular reader but only an occasional commenter on theseconddisc.com, so I’m not sure whether there is any precedent other than the Tony Bennett set for doing so, but it might be good to have a second list, or a sub-list, of albums and songs recorded during the Columbia years that didn’t make the set. And since Columbia added singles from other labels (well, at least from Sun) and not just albums from Columbia, I’d say that it is fair game. So I would add the following released albums from the Columbia years (several of which are mentioned in Joe’s excellent review):

    – The Lure of the Grand Canyon; vinyl released on Columbia in 1961
    – A Believer Sings The Truth; vinyl released on Cachet in 1979
    – Sings with the BC Goodpasture Christian School; vinyl released on Cachet in 1980
    – The Legend of Jesse James; ; vinyl released on A&M in 1982; CD released on A&M in 1999
    – I Believe; vinyl, released on ? in 1984 (10 songs from ABSTT plus 4 outtakes from those sessions)
    – Johnny Cash Gospel Singer; vinyl issued on Priority Records in 1982 (straight reissue of ABSTT?)
    – Believe in Him; vinyl released on Word Records in 1986
    – Class of ’55; vinyl and CD released on American Sound in 1986 (these last two may have been post-Columbia, pre-Mercury)

    I have to track down this “Good Earth” LP–I’ve never heard of it before!

    steveinphilly

    December 5, 2012 at 14:31

  7. I will say that I am glad that they used the mono mixes. Quite often, mono mixes place greater emphasis and attention on the singer, and the singer is really what this is all about. You can get the stereo on Bear Family boxsets.

    Kevin

    December 5, 2012 at 16:09

  8. I received this set today, and though I have only played the first five discs, it sounds great and looks terrific.
    I am trying to make a list of which Cash albums have been released by Sony/Legacy in stereo with bonus tracks. The ones I have so far are:

    Fabulous Johnny Cash
    Hymns By Johnny Cash
    Now, There Was A Song (no bonus tracks)
    Ride This Train
    Blood, Sweat & Tears (no bonus tracks)
    Ring Of Fire (no bonus tracks)
    Bitter Tears (no bonus tracks)
    Orange Blossom Special
    Sings the Ballads of the True West
    Carryin’ On with Johnny Cash and June Carter
    At Folson Prison (single CD and boxed set editions)
    At San Quentin (single CD and boxed set editions)
    Pa Osteraker

    Were any other albums previously released by Legacy? I want to have both the stereo and mono versions that are available, as well as any bonus tracks.

    Jason Michael

    December 5, 2012 at 22:47

    • Do we have a serious Johnny Cash discographer here? A comprehensive list is needed of all Columbia tracks not on the box. Need to sort out what is on the Bear Family boxsets compared to the “bonus tracks” missing from the “Big Box”. Where the newer CD releases of concert records included a more complete concert and put song sequences in original “live” order, that is worth knowing (as you would need the entire new version, not just the missing tracks).

      Sometimes SONY does it right with the “Original Album” boxes, by including all available outtakes and bonus tracks (like the Nina Simone box), sometimes they do it wrong by deleting them (like the Leonard Cohen box, and this one).

      Kevin

      December 6, 2012 at 08:20

      • I agree that it would be great to sort all of that out. I have pretty much all of Johnny’s CD catalog (although I did bite and sell my used copies of “Heroes” and “Return to the Promised Land” when I realized I could get $98 each for them!), and I don’t see myself getting rid of much, if anything, because I don’t want to part with those bonus tracks or the full-length prison concerts.

        That said, I don’t think Sony did it wrong here. They released the albums as they originally were issued. It would have been a nice touch if they had put _all_ of those bonus tracks on a few extra CDs here, but for one thing, all, or nearly all of those CDs with bonus tracks are still in print, so (a) you can still track them down (and generally on the cheap–like “Orange Blossom Special” for $3.99 at Amazon), and (b) why would Columbia want to take away the final reason for fans who have this to go out and buy those single CDs as well?

        Also, they did name it “The Complete Columbia _Album_ Collection, so any singles are really a bonus. Unlike the Bennett box, where they named it “The Complete Collection” then left off 50 or more songs.

        Finally, I like the idea of just listening to it as it sounded on the original vinyl, with the final song that Johnny picked for the album being the final song on the CD. If one wants the previously-issued bonus tracks, one has access to them elsewhere. I’m a Sinatra fan and collector as well, and it always bugged me that on the CD version of his concept album “Come Fly with Me,” they tacked on three additional geography-related songs after the perfect last song on the LP, “It’s Nice To Go Trav’ling” (“but it’s oh so nice coming home”). Right after you “Come Fly With Me” to cities around the world, you come home, and then on the CD you head out again to Chicago, Mexico and Paris. I’m not sure any of Johnny’s albums have such a well-defined ending that would be wrecked by bonus tracks, but I just want to hear them as he intended them to be heard (albeit in better sound, perhaps!).

        So no complaints from me on that front (even though I can’t open it for 19 more days). YMMV.

        steveinphilly

        December 6, 2012 at 11:02

      • I don’t disagree with you about the benefit of keeping the original album “as is” on a CD. Often, bonus tracks can be so different in style or theme, as to ruin an album’s original concept. (The CD still ruins the ideas behind picking the first and last song on each side of an original vinyl LP though. The first and last song of both sides A&B were very carefully selected as to tempo and theme…that is all lost on the CD)

        I still wish boxsets were more complete when possible. I’m not saying every box needs to be 60 CDs.

        Kevin

        December 6, 2012 at 11:25

      • Kevin, that’s a great point about the side 1 ending/side 2 start on LPs being lost in the CD (and digital download) era. I realized that while watching my daughters in The Nutcracker, as the first act ended on a big number and the second act started on a big number. I thought that if you were watching it on a DVD and they skipped the intermission (which presumably a DVD would), you’d lose the impact of that. That’s kind of like a record.

        So I guess you can’t replicate the experience entirely unless you put out a 2-sided CD that forced the listener to get up and flip the CD. Hey Japanese mini-LP makers, are you listening? (I wonder whether they ever considered doing that?)

        steveinphilly

        December 7, 2012 at 10:57

  9. Also, Kevin, re your comment about wishing box sets were more complete–I agree as well. That’s one of the things I like about Bear Family sets. That said, I don’t mind buying multiple sets, as long as there is little or no duplication. I like the Genesis box sets for that reason. Basically they have released everything in a series of 5 box sets (plus a CD and DVD that came out at the roughly the same time, so they left it out of the last sets so as not to force people to buy it twice). The Sinatra Capitol catalog (but not Reprise) is pretty close to this model too. There is a large box of the Concept Albums (actually, available at 3 price points–well, they may all be out of print now, but they were available), and then there was a Singles collection sold separately. There were then some extra alternate takes added to CDs, mostly subsequent to those sets, but at the time the two album and singles box sets came out, that pretty much was all that had been issued commercially.

    So it would be nice if Columbia had made sure to pick up all (or essentially all) of the alternate tracks in an extra disc or set of discs. But I’m still pretty darn happy with this set, especially after going through the contents of it and comparing it to my existing, fairly large Cash CD collection and seeing what has been added that I didn’t have before, not to mention the artwork. For many of the first 19 or so albums, I only had the music because I have all the Bear Family sets, but I never had them as albums, nor did I have the jackets.

    steveinphilly

    December 7, 2012 at 11:01

    • This is an aside in a Johnny Cash thread, but you may be either pleased or terribly disappointed to know that the far superior boxset of Sinatra’s Capitol recordings is the British-only 21 CD set called “The Capitol Collection”. The remastering sound quality of this import box is so vastly superior to any of the USA editions that it makes the USA versions (either boxes or singles from ANY USA Capitol edition) seem criminal to be on the market. Unfortunately, the British box does not include the Christmas record or ALL of the singles (only a portion that were issued on compilation LPs in their day). Worse yet, the British box is out of print and goes for huge sums. But it is clearly superior in sound.

      More on Cash next time.

      If you are a great typist who enjoys making lists, maybe you can post (separately or all at once) the missing tracks and takes and which CD they come from.

      Kevin

      December 7, 2012 at 12:01

  10. Does anyone know how to contact Sony/Columbia to suggest these “missing” tracks/albums for their Bootleg series?

    And now we need Mercury to come through with a nice box set. I know those albums aren’t most people’s favorites, but there’s more than a few good tracks that would make it worth doing.

    Charles

    December 10, 2012 at 21:52


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