From Memphis to Hollywood
When a music career spans more than 50 years, there’s bound to be a mountain of unreleased material. And thanks to technology converting analog to digital, there is no end to what will be released in the future by Johnny Cash.
Although he has been gone seven years, the Man in Black’s legacy continues to grow each year around his birthday (February 26, 1932) with a new rare recording released for the first time.
This year Sony Legacy has released Johnny Cash’s Bootleg Volume II – From Memphis to Hollywood. The two-disc set truly does carry very rare Cash material from the 1950s and 1960s.
Billed as Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two, the first disc serves up the 1955 Memphis radio broadcast on KWEM. Cash, along with Luther Perkins (guitar) and Marshall Grant (bass fiddle), play some of their earliest material –“Wide Open Road,” “One More Ride,” “Luther’s Boogie” and “Belshazzar.” The radio show is billed as 11 unreleased tracks, but, in all, Cash plays four songs and the rest is Cash pushing advertisement for Home Equipment Company.
The second part of disc one (tracks 11-22) features stripped-down rare demos of some of Cash’s biggest hits, including “I Walk The Line,” “Get Rhythm” and “Rock And Roll Ruby.” The remainder of the first disc is the highlight featuring Cash’s early Sun Sesssion recordings produced by the legendary Sam Phillips and Jack Clement. You won’t hear any of Cash’s major hits in this seven-song session, but the songs are pricless even in their raw form. “Leave That Junk Alone,” “Brakeman’s Blues” and “New Mexico” are classic Cash.
The second disc of the set is from the Columbia vaults and contains 25 non-album singles, B-sides, and outtakes, 11 of which were previously unreleased in the U.S.
The first four tracks are over produced with multiple background female singers doing their “ohhs” and “ahhs,” but then the CD kicks in to Cash’s typical chugging rhythms and storylines. “The Losing Kind,” “Locomotive Man” and “One Too Many Mornings” embody Cash as a true singer/songwriter.
Deeper into the disc, you can see Cash’s Spanish influences on “Put The Sugar To Bed” and “You Beat All I Ever Saw” with Mexican horns backing him.
But it’s when Cash puts a name or a face to a song that he is at his best. He was always able to relate to the struggles of the common blue collar worker. He had a strong appreciation for his country and all those who fought for it as it shows in the song “Johnny Reb,” on which he duets with his wife June Carter Cash. “Roll Call” is another nod to the soldiers who fought in the Civil War. “The Frozen Logger” touches on the aforementioned blue-collar appeal and Cash, perhaps, looks within on the song “The Folk Singer.”
All the mainstaples of one of the greatest singer/songwriters is here – trains, prison, family and lovers – from his very early days in the 1950s to his growth as a muscian into the new decade of the 1960s. From Memphis to Hollywood – Bootleg II is a musical treasure chest of Johnny Cash material that will appeal to fans new and old discovering the greatness that is Cash.