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Stirring devotional music
on 11 June 2007
It's almost unbelievable that these tracks were recorded over a timespan of 34 years, from 1957 to 1981, since the music forms such a cohesive, seamless whole. The songs include traditionals, his own compositions and the work of others like Carl Perkins. The album opens with Here Was A Man, a spoken introduction about the life and influence of Messiah Yeshua.
The next, The Preacher Said, is a type of duet with statements by evangelist Billy Graham. The following seven songs all date from the late 1950s, and my personal favorites include Belshazzar (1957), It Was Jesus with its unidentified black gospel backing vocals, Swing Low Sweet Chariot (1959) and The Great Speckle Bird from the same year.
Two of the previously unreleased tracks, How Great Thou Art and It Is No Secret from 1981, are amongst the highlights. The legendary Carter Family provide backing vocals on amongst others: Peace In The Valley (1963), Angel Band (1979) and on Children Go Where I Send Thee (1979) together with the 21st Century Singers, whilst Far Side Banks Of Jordan is a duet with June Carter.
Other great hymns worthy of special mention are In The Sweet By And By and Amazing Grace (both 1974) and Were You There (1962) with Maybelle Carter on autoharp and the family on backing vocals. The full spectrum of the spiritual experience is covered by these beautiful, timeless songs: sombre reflection, joy, melancholy, awe, comfort, devotion and gripping story-telling.
This is my first album of the music of Johnny Cash and I'm hooked! His beautiful baritone is impressive on its own, but even more amazing when framed by the devotional backing vocals. The CD booklet contains one sepia and four black and white pics, information like recording dates and musicians for every song, plus a short bio written by Sylvie Simmons.