Released in 1965 just after the popular `Orange Blossom Special', comes a very differently toned album Johnny Cash. Orange Blossom Special seemed to be designed as an overt attempt at popularity, and following this Cash decided to do something more personal, more meaningful to him. And this gem of an album resulted.
Following in the template of previous albums such as `Ride This Train', Cash turns story teller once again, to tell tales of the Old West as it really was. Using a set of original songs and a well chosen set of covers, he uses his entrancing voice to weave images of life as it was, and to tell the stories of events that really happened.
Cash was going through a rough time in his life, and, as with many of his albums, there is a pre-occupation with death preset. There are tales of hangings, gunfights, murder. Cash wisely lightens the mood with morbidly fun songs such as Sam Hall or 25 minutes to go, making this an enjoyable album to listen to. Cash seems to have been particularly inspired when he recorded this, and it comes through clearly.
In short, a highly atmospheric album with Cash's voice drawing you into his vision of the old West, with brief leavenings of humour. It's an excellently done piece, and deserves a place in anyone's record collection.
This 2002 re-issue comes with 2 bonus tracks that add to the set. There are some interesting liner notes. The sound has been nicely remastered, and it sounds very fresh on my stereo. This classic album has been treated with respect by Sony, and this release gets 5 stars from me.