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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 4 December 2012
This is a fabulous release for any fan of JC but especially for someone like me who has bought all his vinyl albums and most of the CD reissues over the past 50 years.

Let me start with the package. Sturdy box, rather dull artwork and with a flip lid. I prefer lids you can remove rather than hinged ones, the latter can wear out over the years. Also sturdy slipcases for the CDs: again I don't like these as there is a risk of scuffing the CD playing surface although I have extracted each disc with care. A magnifying glass is needed to read the liner notes for each album. Perhaps the 197 page booklet could have been a hardback rather than a paperback. Solution to the 'packaging problem': buy 2 Really Useful 6.5L boxes [Staples sell them]: they will comfortably take the the empty box and each disc in a slimline jewelcase [Tesco] with its associated sleeve. Packaging: 8.5/10.

Now to the guts. Is it what it says it is: 'Complete [original only] Columbia Albums': ehmm, probably. Why the hesitancy? I wonder whether 2 truly qualify: 'Keep on the sunny side' [disc #11] is really a Carter Family release with JC included as a 'special guest'. 'Koncert V Praze' [#55] was a release on the Supraphon label in Czechoslovakia, so was it a 'Columbia album'? Anyway, who really cares: both are included. More contentious are the omissions. Towards the end of 1960 JC recorded a narration 'A day in the Grand Canyon' included in an album 'Grand Canyon Suite' by the renowned conductor Andre Kostelanetz. JC's contribution was a single 11 minute track but deemed important enough for the album sleeve to give his name prominence. If the Carters album qualified so perhaps should this one. In 1975 a Columbia Special Products ['CSP'] album 'Destination Victoria Station' was issued, basically for sale in a restaurant chain of the same name. Of the 12 train themed songs included, 4 were tracks from other albums, 2 were new vocals on previous backing tracks and 6 were totally new recordings. This should have been included. Finally, if the Supraphon album was included, so should have been the 1979 Cachet release of 'A believer sings the truth': Columbia later released an abbreviated version and the full double album appeared in the UK on CBS. Hey, never mind: this album is included in 'Bootleg 4', released a few months ago.

How good a deal is this set for avid collectors? Sony claim that 35 of the 59 albums featured have not previously been issued on Sony Legacy in the USA. The extensive booklet does not identify the 24 allegedly previously released. Including CSP releases, I own 27 USA releases and this excludes 3 Christmas CDs reissued in 1995 I did not purchase. So that reduces the 'new' material to 29. One can further reduce this figure by 6 for the 2010 Readers Digest boxset, a further 2 for the Bear Family 2on1 release of the film soundtracks to 'I Walk the Line' and 'Little Fauss and Big Halsy' and a further 8 that can be compiled in their entirety from the 4 LP sized boxsets also issued by Bear Family. This leaves 13 albums new to reissue. These cover the later period of JC's time at Columbia when by common consent his recording quality was tailing off. However at an equivalent price of around £9 per disc these are still a bargain for completists. And this is without counting the first 19 albums being mono issues nor counting the 3 bonus discs. For album completism: 9/10.

The bonus discs divide me. The 28 Sun tracks on disc #61 are an excellent selection but is the disc necessary? Could not the Grand Canyon narration and a selection of rare and unreleased tracks have been included instead? On the other hand, the double album 'Singles, plus' [disc #s 62 and 63] is simply fabulous. With the exception of the 4 instrumental tracks released in 1959 and 1961 where JC was the 'friend' in 2 singles from 'The Tennessee Two and Friend', every one of the non-album singles plus an extended play issued by Columbia are included in chronological sequence plus a few tracks from his collaborations with such as Earl Scruggs. Several have not been released on any previous CD compilation and many tracks are a joy. Bonus discs: 10/10.

So far, in one day, I have played 8 discs and the sound quality is very good.

To sum up: a wonderful issue by Sony. I have pointed out some very small debatable points, all of which Sony can easily refute. For the uncommitted Cash fan this is giveaway value. For the completist it is still great value. If you doubt me, check out the price of the equivalent 76 CD set by Tony Bennett: just over £450! When this set was advertised I was thinking of a credit card busting £250 to £300: to find it for a fraction over £120 ie less than £2 per disc is truly amazing value. So well done Sony and thanks for the memories John.
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on 3 December 2012
Wow! This is a mammoth box set of all 59 (yes 59!) albums which Johnny Cash released on Columbia from his arrival from Sun Records in 1958, until he was unceremoniously dropped by the label 28 years later.

So apart from the Sun releases, which are widely available, five albums on Mercury Records and the iconic American albums produced by Rick Rubin, this is pretty much the core of Johnny Cash's work.

The variety of Cash's output is may be surprising to some. It was Bruce Springsteen who pointed out how much humour Cash brought to his music and, for those used to his sombre Man in Black image, the presence of the comedy album Everybody loves a Nut may paint him in a different light. It's hard to think of another main stream singer who has released a comedy album.

In fact, it's hard to think of any entertainer whose work has been so varied.There are gospel albums, Christmas albums, a childrens' album, soundtrack albums from a couple of movies, including The Gospel Road which Cash produced in The Holy Land, two Highwayman albums, a collaboration with Sun survivors Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins, a concert from a Swedish Prison and duet albums with June Carter. There are also two CDs of the singles Cash released on Columbia, plus Cash's guest appearances on other artist's albums

Most rewarding, in many ways, are the Americana albums from the sixties. If the biopic "Walk the Line" had a fault it was in portraying Cash as a self-destructive rockabilly singer with a one-track obsession with June Carter. In fact, Cash was incredibly hard-working and creative throughout the decade, researching folk and cowboy culture for a series of astonishing concept albums such as Ride this Train, Blood Sweat and Tears and Ballads of the True West. You can understand how this original work earned the respect and friendship of Bob Dylan.

Amongst the most powerful and satisfying of these records is Bitter Tears, a blistering attack on the treatment of native Americans, including the powerful Peter La Farge song The Ballad of Ira Hayes which brought Cash into conflict with the Nashville establishment. Also interesting is The Holy Land, a collection of original gospel songs inter-dispersed with audio recordings Cash made on location in Israel.

It is fair to say that Cash took risks with his work and that the recordings don't always work, or stand up well nearly 50 years later, but they give a fascinating insight into Johnny Cash's character and creativity.

It is hard to see the casual Cash fan forking out £120 plus for this box set although, at just over £2.00 a CD, it is arguably brilliant value. It is more likely to be those who bought the original CBS vinyl LPs who will want to listen again and fill the gaps of those they didn't acquire at the time. It may be you were at the live London Palladium recording of Strawberry Cake (as I was) when it was evacuated after a bomb threat announcement which made it onto the album. This is one of several recordings here which have never before been released on CD.

Altogether an amazing body of work from one of the most prolific of music's all time greats.

If you are generous enough to give this to the Cash fan in your life as a Christmas present, bear in mind they may still be playing it at Easter. 60 + CD's take a long time to get through !
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on 6 December 2012
This is a truly monumental release. Other reviewers have covered packaging and content. I just want to draw attention to the fact that Johnny Cash was a great songwriter and a great collector of songs. If you take into account this box set his Mercury recordings and The American recordings the man's taste and vision was truly panoramic.
The contents in this box prove that Johnny Cash was one of the greatest ever figures in popular music. This set not only shows Johnny's ability to make you laugh, cry and most important of all think. It is also a chronicle of some of the finest songwriters of the 20th century himself included.
Like Hank Williams and Elvis Presley Johnny Cash's legacy will be eternal. I am just going to look at google maps to see if there is a mountain I can carve those faces into.
Make no mistake this is a fine box set thank you Sony for getting it right.
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on 5 April 2013
I would recommend this boxed set to any Johnny Cash fan.
My vynal collection were showing the signs of use and really needed replacing.
This was the ideal solution. A great product at a fair price.
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on 24 January 2013
For the first time irreplaceable vinyl recordings appear on CD - heaven. Every disc is a blast from the past.
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on 3 December 2012
63 card-sleeved albums with their original covers and liner notes for around £2 each plus a chunky little book full of recording details,album covers and other photographs,all in a presentation box and weighing enough to cause serious damage.It's Cash and if you don't have anything except for a Greatest Hits package then this is for you.If you have every recording he ever made it's for you too because,well,honestly,do you feel your life will be complete when you know it's out there and you don't have it? Full album listing is on the US Amazon site-c'mon UK get in line! A great reason to never have to speak to the family once over Christmas.
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on 3 December 2012
Simply incredible! This is a must have! It contains for little over one hundred pounds 63 CD s with the complete Columbia recordings of Johnny's cash! This covers the whole era when he poduced some of the best country music around. There are some rare albums such as the oesteraker prison album from Sweden for example. Johnny cash in his time has one some not so excellent stuff but overall he is up there with the giants such as miles Davis or bob Dylan. I cannot repeat it enough, this set is simply amazing. If you know him only from the darker more folky American recordings stuff from his later years you will e surprised by an artist of this incredibly varied talent. There are the famous prison albums, then some mot so great 70's stuff but it was always quite unique, he even covers nick Lowe at o point, plus there is the billion dollar quartet r whatever they were called. Buy it before it goes out of print, right away!
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on 5 December 2012
The contents of this amazing box set have been well described by other reviewers and I have very little different to add. The presentation is superb and classy with a well illustrated 200 page booklet giving track listings with further details for each of the albums. The one minor disappointment relates to this information. With box sets of this magnitude, many provide an alphabetical list of song titles with details of where they are to be found. To name five that provided this, there are the 3 Frank Sinatra complete collections (Columbia, Capitol - Concepts and Reprise), Elvis Presley Complete and the Beatles (Bread Bin). On all of these sets if you want to locate and listen to a particular track, you just look at the listing and hey presto, nothing could be easier. With a 63 CD box set, it is frustratingly difficult if you are not familiar with all of the individual albums.

Not withstanding this, the music is sublime and at a cost of around £2.00 per CD you cannot complain about the value. My advice is to buy it while it is still available at this price.
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on 26 February 2013
Having been an avid fan of Johnny Cash since my teens (now in late 50's) I was really looking forward to getting all of my Columbia vinyls on CD in this box set.
Unfortunately, even though it states the "Complete" Columbia collection it did not include the following, which are in my vinyl collection:
Riding The Rails
A Believer Sings the Truth
The Walls of a Prison
A Boy Named Sue
Star Portrait
The World of Johnny Cash

Oh well, I've still got my vinyls and a turntable to fall back on.
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on 11 December 2012
I have liked Johnny cash for years but didn't know where to start with buying his music, nor did I have the spare cash to go out and buy everything, then along came this box set. As soon as I saw it I ordered it.

It really is fantastic value for money and if you have any interest in this artist's music then this has to be a purchase well worth the money.

Now, it's time to get stuck into these CDs and find all the hidden gems that have eluded me over the years.

I am really looking forward to this. I have not been this excited about a purchase for a long time.
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