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by Johnny Cash

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Much anthologized and never wearing out his welcome, Johnny Cash returns on disc via a spectacular four-CD box set that justifies the title The Legend. Not that there's anything startlingly new here -- although there are a handful of previously unreleased tracks. Rather, it's the sheer depth and breadth of the musical legacy that's so gripping, no matter howSee more details below


Much anthologized and never wearing out his welcome, Johnny Cash returns on disc via a spectacular four-CD box set that justifies the title The Legend. Not that there's anything startlingly new here -- although there are a handful of previously unreleased tracks. Rather, it's the sheer depth and breadth of the musical legacy that's so gripping, no matter how many times the songs have been heard before. In this particular conceit, the four discs are arranged thematically. The first is subtitled Win, Place and Show -- The Hits, with selections including the timeless "I Walk the Line", several choice Sun tracks (such as the too-seldom-anthologized gem "Home of the Blues"), and an overview of Columbia smashes: Carl Perkins's still-stirring "Daddy Sang Bass"; "Ring of Fire"; "The Ballad of Ira Hayes," evidence of the Man in Black's growing social conscience; and achingly beautiful love songs on the order of "Flesh and Blood." Discs 2 and 3 follow this format, offering a sampling of Sun and Columbia sides appropriate to their respective themes. Old Favorites and New ranges from "Hey Porter" to Bruce Springsteen's "Highway Patrolman," while The Great American Songbook is not represented by Gershwin and Johnny Mercer but rather by the likes of Leadbelly ("Rock Island Line"), Jimmie Rodgers ("In the Jailhouse Now"), and Hank Williams ("I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry"). Disc 4, Family and Friends, finds Cash teaming with the Carter Family, Bob Dylan, his daughter Rosanne (on the stunning "September When It Comes"), and A. P. Carter's daughter Janette on the wrenchingly beautiful hymn to Mother Maybelle Carter, "Tears on the Holston River." Cash spent the entirety of his career singing the great American songbook of the common people, and The Legend is a powerful chronicle of that momentous undertaking.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
There have been in the neighborhood of ten CD box sets devoted to Johnny Cash, released on Columbia, Bear Family, and Collectables (this does not count overseas releases by Sony, or budget-line repackagings of three albums into one box set). Since 2000 there have been roughly 15 new major-label compilations, and that number balloons to nearly 90 comps if various and sundry two-fers, budget-line releases, and imports are factored into the equation. Add to that number the three major reissue campaigns -- Columbia/Legacy's expanded reissues of proper '60s and '70s records, Varese's series of Sun LP re-releases, and Mercury's revival of his largely overlooked '80s albums for the label -- plus the CDs released in the '80s and '90s that are still in print -- and there's not only an enormous amount of Johnny Cash music on the market, but every phase of his career is extraordinarily well documented and easily available. With this in mind, it's initially hard to see the purpose of Columbia/Legacy's 2005 four-disc box set, The Legend. Sure, it's the first set to run the entire length of his career, from 1955 to 2002, but that statement in itself is a little misleading, suggesting that there's a significant sampling from his Rick Rubin-produced comeback recordings for American Records in the '90s, but that's not the case. In fact, there's nothing from those records, although there is a cut from the 1994 Red Hot + Country album and a smattering of other tracks he recorded in the last decade of his life included among the seven previously unreleased tracks on this 104-track box. So, this winds up being yet another repackaging of Cash's Columbia recordings, buttressed by several Sun standards ("Hey Porter," "Cry, Cry, Cry," "Luther Played the Boogie," "Get Rhythm," etc.). While this is familiar, this is by no means bad, since the music is not only good, but it's presented in an interesting manner, with each disc following a theme that's a little looser than Columbia's previous box, Love, God, Murder. Here, the first disc is called Win, Place and Show -- The Hits, the second is Old Favorites and New, the third is The Great American Songbook, and the fourth is Family and Friends. Although it's unclear what exactly separates the "hits" from the "favorites" -- if "Cry, Cry, Cry," "Get Rhythm," "Big River," and "I Got Stripes," all Top 15 country singles but all on the second disc, weren't hits, then what constitutes a hit? -- it seems that the former tends to favor funnier, poppier singles like "Ballad of a Teenage Queen," "A Boy Named Sue," and "The One on the Right Is on the Left," while the latter leans toward grittier numbers and standards that never charted (but even that isn't quite right, since the dark humor of "25 Minutes to Go" is on the second disc). In any case, both of the first two discs are good listens, filled with many of Cash's biggest hits and best songs. The third disc is similarly strong, featuring several of Cash's best readings of such standards -- recorded anywhere from 1955 to 1980, with most dating from the late '50s and '60s -- as "The Wreck of the Old 97," "Rock Island Line," "Delia's Gone," "In the Jailhouse Now," "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," and "Time Changes Everything." However, despite a few good moments, such as his duet with Bob Dylan on "Girl from the North Country" from Nashville Skyline, the fourth disc isn't quite so compelling, largely because Johnny Cash is such an overpowering presence on record that he never made for a good duet partner. But even with the fourth disc being kind of weak, the other three are strong, which means this rivals Columbia's previous box set, 1992's The Essential Johnny Cash 1955-1983 as the best multi-disc retrospective of Cash's weighty career. That doesn't mean it's perfect -- that fourth disc won't be played much, some may gripe that it doesn't contain much from the '80s or '90s, and some big songs like "Five Feet High and Rising" and "The Rebel Johnny Yuma" are MIA -- but Cash recorded so much and so much of it was not only good, but popular, that it's hard to whittle it down to one set, even if it does stretch out over four discs. Overall, The Legend does a very good job presenting the biggest and best of the prime of Johnny Cash's career -- enough to make it a good comprehensive introduction for the curious who want more than what the many, many very good single- or double-disc sets have to offer, enough to make it a nice overview for the casual fan who wants one set with much of his best in one place. [The Legend was also released in a Deluxe Edition, packaged as a large, hardcover book and containing a bonus CD and DVD.]

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Product Details

Release Date:


Disc 1

  1. I Walk the Line
  2. There You Go
  3. Home of the Blues
  4. Ballad of a Teenage Queen
  5. Guess Things Happen That Way
  6. The Ways of a Woman in Love
  7. Don't Take Your Guns to Town
  8. Ring of Fire
  9. The Matador
  10. Understand Your Man
  11. The Ballad of Ira Hayes
  12. Orange Blossom Special
  13. The One on the Right Is on the Left
  14. Rosanna's Going Wild
  15. Folsom Prison Blues
  16. Daddy Sang Blues
  17. A Boy Named Sue
  18. What Is Truth
  19. Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down
  20. Flesh and Blood
  21. Man in Black
  22. A Thing Called Love
  23. Kate
  24. Oney
  25. Any Old Wind That Blows
  26. One Piece at a Time
  27. (Ghost) Riders in the Sky

Disc 2

  1. Hey Porter
  2. Cry, Cry, Cry
  3. Luther Played the Boogie
  4. Get Rhythm
  5. Give My Love to Rose
  6. I Was There When It Happened
  7. Big River
  8. I Still Miss Someone
  9. Pickin' Time
  10. The Man on the Hill
  11. Five Feet High and Rising
  12. Tennessee Flat-Top Box
  13. I Got Stripes
  14. Troublesome Waters
  15. The Long Black Veil
  16. Dark as a Dungeon
  17. The Wall
  18. 25 Minutes to Go
  19. Cocaine Blues
  20. Doin' My Time
  21. I Will Rock and Roll with You
  22. Without Love
  23. The Big Light
  24. Highway Patrolman
  25. I'm Never Gonna Roam Again
  26. When I'm Gray
  27. Forever Young

Disc 3

  1. The Wreck of the Old 97
  2. Rock Island Line
  3. Goodnight Irene
  4. Goodbye, Little Darlin'
  5. Born to Lose
  6. Walking the Blues
  7. Frankie's Man, Johnny
  8. Delia's Gone
  9. In the Jailhouse Now
  10. Waiting for a Train
  11. Casey Jones
  12. The Legend of John Henry's Hammer
  13. I've Been Working on the Railroad
  14. Sweet Betsy from Pike
  15. The Streets of Laredo
  16. Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie
  17. Down in the Valley
  18. Wabash Cannonball
  19. The Great Speckle Bird
  20. Wildwood Flower
  21. Cotton Fields
  22. Pick a Bale O' Cotton
  23. Old Shep
  24. I'll Be All Smiles Tonight
  25. I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry
  26. Time Changes Everything

Disc 4

  1. Keep on the Sunny Side
  2. Diamonds in the Rough
  3. (There'll Be) Peace in the Valley
  4. Were You There (When They Crucified My Lord)
  5. Another Man Done Gone
  6. Pick the Wildwood Flower
  7. Jackson
  8. If I Were a Carpenter
  9. Girl from the North Country
  10. One More Ride
  11. You Can't Beat Jesus Christ
  12. There Ain't No Good Chain Gang
  13. We Oughta Be Ashamed
  14. Crazy Old Soldier
  15. Silver Haired Daddy of Mine
  16. Who's Gone Autry?
  17. The Night Hank Williams Came to Town
  18. I Walk the Line (Revisited)
  19. Highwayman
  20. The Wanderer
  21. September When It Comes
  22. Tears in the Holston River
  23. Far Side Banks of Jordan
  24. It Takes One to Know Me

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Johnny Cash   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Vocals
Norman Blake   Dobro,Guitar
Marty Stuart   Guitar,Mandolin
Hoyt Axton   Background Vocals
Ed Bruce   Background Vocals
Carlene Carter   Vocals,Background Vocals
Carter Family   Background Vocals
Rosanne Cash   Vocals
Floyd Cramer   Piano
Rodney Crowell   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar,Vocals
Waylon Jennings   Guitar,Vocals
Kris Kristofferson   Vocals
Willie Nelson   Guitar,Vocals
Jerry Reed   Electric Guitar
Doc Watson   Guitar
Ray Charles   Vocals
Elvis Costello   Acoustic Guitar,Vocals
Bob Dylan   Acoustic Guitar,Vocals
Dave Edmunds   Electric Guitar
Jordanaires   Background Vocals
Carl Perkins   Electric Guitar
Jay Patten   Horn
James Burton   Guitar
Pete Drake   Steel Guitar
Bob Johnson   Banjo,Guitar,Lute,Mandocello
Judy Rodman   Background Vocals
Jan Howard   Background Vocals
Don Helms   Steel Guitar
Bill Pursell   Piano
Bobby Wood   Keyboards
John McEuen   Mandolin
Anita Carter   Vocals
Billy Joe Shaver   Acoustic Guitar,Vocals
Gordon Terry   Fiddle
Tommy Cash   Background Vocals
Mother Maybelle Carter   Acoustic Guitar,Autoharp,Vocals
Johnny Western   Guitar
Edge   Synthesizer,Background Vocals
Brian Ahern   Guitar,Tambourine
Ritchie Albright   Drums
Joe Babcock   Banjo
Hal Blaine   Drums
Earl Poole Ball   Piano
Martin Belmont   Electric Guitar
Benmont Tench   Electric Piano
Barbara Bennett   Background Vocals
Pete Bordonali   Electric Guitar
Larry Butler   Keyboards
Don Carter   Background Vocals
June Carter Cash   Vocals
Floyd Chance   Bass
Gene Chrisman   Drums
Jack Clement   Guitar,Rhythm Guitar
J.R. Cobb   Guitar
Chuck Cochran   Piano
T. Michael Coleman   Bass
Donivan Cowart   Background Vocals
Glen D. Hardin   Keyboards
Shane Keister   Synthesizer
Ray Edenton   Guitar
Bobby Emmons   Keyboards
Brian Eno   Synthesizer
Flood   Loops
Jimmie Fadden   Harmonica
Larry Farrell   Trombone
Gene Lowery   Background Vocals
Tim Goodman   Banjo,Guitar
Marshall Grant   Bass,Background Vocals
Jack Hale   Trumpet,Horn,French Horn
Owen Hale   Drums
Jeff Hanna   national steel guitar,Vocal Harmony
Buddy Harman   Drums
Jerry Hensley   Guitar
Byron House   Bass
Jimmy Ibbotson   Mandolin,Vocal Harmony
Clayton Ivey   Organ,Piano
Tony Kadleck   Flugelhorn
Red Lane   Guitar
Lynn Langham   Background Vocals
Mike Leech   Bass
John Leventhal   Bass,Guitar,Keyboards
Bob Lewin   Trumpet,Horn,French Horn
Rufus Long   Flute
Nick Lowe   Bass
Gary Lunn   Bass
Kenny Malone   Percussion,Drums
David Mansfield   Mandocello
Bill McElhiney   Trumpet
Terry McMillan   Harmonica,Percussion
Chips Moman   Guitar
Ralph Mooney   Steel Guitar
Farrell Morris   Percussion
Richard Morris   Percussion
Greg Morrow   Drums
Roy Nichols   Guitar
Louis Dean Nunley   Background Vocals
Gordon Payne   Bass
Shawn Pelton   Percussion,Drums
Luther Perkins   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar,Background Vocals
Danny Petraitis   Harmonica
Michael Rhodes   Bass
Billy Lee Riley   Electric Guitar
Hargus "Pig" Robbins   Keyboards
Clifford Robertson   Piano
Jack Routh   Guitar
Billy Sanford   Acoustic Guitar
Randy Scruggs   Acoustic Guitar
Dale Sellers   Acoustic Guitar
Jerry Shook   Guitar
Steuart Smith   Electric Guitar
Henry Strzelecki   Bass
Wendy Suits   Background Vocals
Pete Thomas   Drums
Bobby Thompson   Banjo
Jimmy Tittle   Bass
Robby Turner   Dobro,Steel Guitar
J.M. Van Eaton   Drums
Pete Wade   Guitar
Merle Watson   Guitar
Bob Wootton   Electric Guitar
Malcolm Yelvington   Background Vocals
Reggie Young   Electric Guitar
W.S. Holland   Drums
Roy Goin   Bass
Marvin Hughes   Piano
Charlie McCoy   Harmonica
Hershel Wigginton   Background Vocals
Asa Wilkerson   Background Vocals
Helen Carter   Guitar
Karl Garvin   Trumpet
Lee Holt   Background Vocals
Jimmy Wilson   Piano
Cyd Mosteller   Background Vocals
Jerry Sheff   Bass
Bill Abbott   Background Vocals
John Carter Cash   Acoustic Guitar,Background Vocals
Chuck Turner   Percussion
Sara Bruce   Background Vocals
Jimmy Smith   Piano
Nita Smith   Background Vocals
Joe "Public" Allen   Bass
Laura Cash   Background Vocals
Cindy Cash   Vocals
Bob Carter   Accordion,Vocal Harmony
Confederates   Background Vocals
Paul Davis   Keyboards
Evangel Temple Choir   Background Vocals
Larry McCoy   Piano

Technical Credits

Marty Stuart   Producer
J. Scott Skinner   Composer
Gene Autry   Composer
Johnny Cash   Composer,Producer
Rodney Crowell   Producer
Jimmie Davis   Composer
Waylon Jennings   Producer
George Jones   Composer
Kris Kristofferson   Composer
Shel Silverstein   Composer
Dave Edmunds   Producer
Jerry Leiber   Composer
Stan Jones   Composer
Alan Lomax   Composer
Mother Maybelle Carter   Composer
Edge   Composer,Producer
Brian Ahern   Producer
Earl Ball   Producer
Bono   Composer
Charlie Bragg   Producer
Larry Butler   Producer
A.P. Carter   Composer
Jerry Chesnut   Composer
Adam Clayton   Composer
Jack Clement   Composer,Producer
Brian Eno   Producer
Flood   Producer
Gregg Geller   Producer,Liner Notes
Bob Johnston   Producer
Frank Jones   Producer
Don Law   Producer
John Leventhal   Producer
John A. Lomax   Adaptation
Nick Lowe   Composer
Chips Moman   Producer
Larry Mullen   Composer
Ervin T. Rouse   Composer
Jack Routh   Producer
Randy Scruggs   Producer
Billy Sherrill   Producer
Marijohn Wilkin   Composer
Hank Williams   Composer
Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey   Composer
T.J. Seals   Composer
Sam Phillips   Producer
Danny Dill   Composer
Wayne Kemp   Composer
Vic Anesini   Mastering
Jerri Meyer   Package Production
David Santana   Graphic Design
Martin Burckhardt   Illustrations
Jimmy Long   Composer
J.J. Blair   Engineer
Dixie Deen   Composer
John R. Cash   Arranger,Adaptation
A. Carter   Composer
John Carter Cash   Producer,Executive Producer
Chuck Turner   Engineer
Ian Cuttler   Art Direction
Traditional   Composer
Lou Robin   Executive Producer
Don Davis   Producer
Abe Vélez   Packaging Manager
Patrick Carr   Liner Notes
Gisela Delgado   Package Production
J.R. Cash   Composer
Eddie Newton   Composer

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