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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
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No Johnny Cash compilation can ever include everything but this collection contains all the essentials from the fifties and sixties, his most productive period that yielded classic songs such as Hey porter, I walk the line, Big river, Don't take your guns to town, Five feet high and rising, I still miss someone, Ring of fire, Understand your man, It ain't me babe (with June Carter Cash), Orange blossom special, Jackson (with June Carter Cash) and A boy named Sue. All these songs and many others are included here.
The fifties and sixties take up the whole of the first CD and almost half of the second CD so, inevitably, there isn't a lot of room for his later music. Even so, the omission of A thing called love (a top five pop hit in Britain and also a big hit in America) will surprise some people. Of the seventies songs included here, the best is One piece at a time, an amusing song about assembling a car from stolen car parts.
Another feature of this compilation is the number of guests including Bob Dylan (Girl from the north country), Marty Robbins (Song of the patriot), Waylon Jennings (The night Hank Williams came to town) and U2 (The wanderer). On Highwaymen, Johnny is joined by Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson, who recorded three albums together as the Highwaymen. This name was originally used by a sixties folk group (famous for Michael row the boat ashore) and sometimes causes confusion.
European buyers may be familiar with a double CD titled Man in black Very best of, which is similar to this compilation but with different packaging and extra tracks. The UK version has four tracks added - So doggone lonesome, Daddy sang bass, Forty shades of green and Man in white. The Swedish version has the same number of tracks as the UK version but a few tracks were removed to make way for others. Among the other seven are A thing called love and There ain't no good chain gang (with Waylon Jennings). While these additions are welcome, the Swedes removed some other important tracks to make way for them such as Hey Porter and Rebel Johnny Yuma. So you pay your money and you take your choice.
Despite the omission of A thing called love, this is an excellent collection of Johnny's music.
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on 7 June 2004
As a guy who has always dabbled at best with real Americana, folk and country music, I am always on the look out for the good collections and best ofs... rather than trying to collect an artists entrie works.
Hence, whilst looking for a good Johnny Cash collection, I cam across this album at quite a reasonable price. The track listing comtains most of the songs I am familiar with, only missing one or two I've heard on other collections, and seemed to be a good first cut of JC's catalog.
However, one feature of the album has put me off really loving this collection, and that being the censoring of certain words ! Especially odd when you consider what is left uncensored in other modern albums of our time. The bleep's in "boy named Sue" and other tracks just seem really out of place, and ruin the otherwise energetic fire of the live recordings. I'll be looking out for another compilation, and making sure it has a "parent advisory warning" on it
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on 28 December 2007
Unfortunately, "A Boy Called Sue" gets bleeped, which is distracting in the middle of a live recording. Sony/Columbia get no marks for trying to make a collection of Cash songs kid-friendly.
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on 17 March 2013
I bought this double CD after originally just purchasing my all-time favourite track, "Girl from the North Country" by Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan. I thought I might enjoy the other tracks too; I don't really know his work very well. I like them, though as with all CDs, one or two aren't to my taste. I would however recommend "The Essential Johnny Cash" as a good compilation of some of his best material.
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I was looking for the song Man In Black when I came across this album. Brilliant tracklist. There's so much on here that I like. Cash had an instantly recognisable voice whenever you heard him. So much so that he never needed to be introduced, even on the radio!

Lovely album.
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on 4 February 2011
Good amount of many different tracks that will please both the hardy Johhny Cash and also a good mixture for the newcomers to Johnny's music.
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VINE VOICEon 21 March 2014
I've have liked Johnny Cash since 1967 when I heard 'Ring of Fire' in the outdoor market on Singapore Island, when I was there with the Royal Navy. I thought about getting this album so I could listen in the car via Bluetooth on my mobile phone.
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on 7 July 2013
First cd of this ok, second one portrays the great guy at his best, totally timeless any age could get something from listening to it, loved it.
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on 28 July 2013
I have always wanted to listen to Cash and when I realised that he sings a song with Bob Dylan whom I very much admire to say the least , I immediatly bought it.
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on 28 January 2014
I brought this for someone else and they absolutley loved it they said his voice is pure magic. I would recommend this collection
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