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Johnny Cash: Live from Austin TX [Bonus Tracks]

Album Remarks & Appraisals:

DVD Live From Austin Texas with Johnny Cash. With his lean, angular sound and hearty baritone voice full of passion and commitment, Johnny Cash forged one of the most unique styles in all of popular music--one that delved into Gospel, Folk, and Rockabilly but remained true to the essence of Country. The legendary Man in Black is captured live in this 1987 appearance on PBS's AUSTIN CITY LIMITS, which has been expanded from its televised half-hour episode to include all 90 minutes of the performance, featuring classics like 'Ring of Fire', 'Folsom Prison Blues', 'I Walk the Line', 'Long Black Veil', and 'Ghost Riders in the Sky'.

Album Notes

Johnny Cash was fortunate enough to enjoy a massive resurgence of attention and respect in the last decade of his life, but while no one seemed to be paying much attention to him from the early '80s (when his contract with Columbia ran out) to 1994 (when the Rick Rubin-produced American Recordings reminded listeners that a great artist was still in our midst), Cash continued to make good-to-great records and play for fans around the world, and this album, taken from a 1987 taping session for the long-running television series Austin City Limits, shows the Man in Black was still in sterling form as he traveled beneath the radar of country radio and the hipster music press. With his long-time road band backing him up and his soul mate June Carter Cash joining him for a duet on "Where Did We Go Right," Cash sounds relaxed but utterly authoritative on this set, singing tunes he must have done thousands of times before with a genuine emotional gravity (particularly "I Walk the Line" and "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down"), and lending the force of his remarkable voice to some songs not generally associated with him, including moving interpretations of Guy Clark's "Let Him Roll" and John Prine's "Sam Stone." At one point, while introducing his band, Cash tells the audience, "I don't even remember the bad times, there's been so many good times," but on the best moments of this performance, it's clear he never forgot the valleys of his life, and they informed his work even on what should have been just another television gig following the release of an album (Johnny Cash Is Coming to Town) destined to be lost in the shuffle. It's the strength of ordinary moments like this that serve as a reminder of how remarkable Johnny Cash really was, and while Live from Austin, TX is hardly his definitive live album (that honor would go to Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison), it's a potent and thoroughly enjoyable disc that fans will want to hear. [The 2008 edition included bonus tracks.] ~ Mark Deming


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