STYLE: Country RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 44787-13980 LABEL: Spring House SHD2732 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 2 RELEASE DATE: 2008-04-30 RRP: £11.99
Reviewed by Lins Honeyman
American country legend Johnny Cash's love of gospel music is well documented in the annals of music history and, throughout a career spanning six decades, he consistently revisited his gospel roots and recorded many songs of faith. 25 such songs are compiled on this mostly live double CD and, whilst it treads familiar ground, this is nonetheless stunning stuff. Cash's knack at putting Bible stories into song and making them unforgettable is reflected in the matchless "Belshazzar" and "He Turned The Water Into Wine" whilst making recitals of standards such as Thomas Dorsey's "Peace In The Valley" and the evergreen hymn "The Old Rugged Cross" his own thanks to his inimitable Southern drawl. Elsewhere, Cash is joined by his wife June Carter in a handful of songs and the late Anita Carter's beautiful voice stands out in a great version of the old spiritual "Were You There (When They Crucified My Lord)". There are brief forays into trad jazz ("I'm Just An Old Chunk Of Coal") and even big band ("When The Saints Go Marching In") but Cash is most at home knocking out songs like the autobiographical "Man In Black" which contain his trademark freight train rhythm. Throughout this collection, Cash's conviction for his Lord never wavers and it is clear through these songs that, whilst he had many failings, he knew exactly where to go for salvation.
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In a career spanning six decades, the self-proclaimed Man in Black recorded more than 1,500 songs and was hailed as one of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time by Rolling Stone Magazine. Although he earned distinction as an icon in American roots, rock and country music, in his true heart Johnny Cash yearned to be a gospel singer, and he turned time and again to his gospel music roots for solace and inspiration. Throughout his remarkable life, Johnny Cash remained a seeker of truth and faith, as this collection of his gospel recordings attests.