The Alternative Johnny Cash?

Johnny Cash was as “alternative” as it got.  Never exactly country, not exactly rock and roll, you couldn’t pigeonhole this guy.  When he sang country, his style was dead-on rock and roll.   It only stands to reason that Elvis became the big star out of Sun Studios – Johnny Cash was just too badass.  He could have been the very first punk rocker.

You can’t beat that Johnny Cash stuff out of Memphis.  It’s been available roughly since the 1950s but it never gets old.

That’s why it was so refreshing to hear The Alternative Johnny Cash, a promo-only CD distributed by Columbia back in 2002.  The short, 5-song disc was issued to help celebrate Cash’s 70th birthday and to serve as a bonus to Kindred Spirits, a multi-artist tribute featuring Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Steve Earle and others.

The Alternative Johnny Cash is one of my favorite CDs ever.  Classics like “Train Of Love” and “Get Rhythm” are stripped down to their barest essentials – the latter is minus its lead guitar part, the former doesn’t seem to be missing anything.  Both produced by the genius Sam Phillips in 1956, they are classics. 

“Folsom Prison Blues” and “I Walk The Line” from this collection are remakes, done in 1961 when Cash switched labels.  These Nashville productions are far inferior to the originals, but they have a rangy spirit that cuts to the bone.  Rounding out the package is a live cut from 1969, to promote another album that was out at the time.

So here you go … The Alternative Johnny Cash in its entirety.  Nothing “alternative” here — this is as essential as it gets. 

MP3: I Still Miss Someone (live, 1969)

MP3: Train Of Love

MP3: Get Rhythm

MP3: Folsom Prison Blues

MP3: I Walk The Line

2 Responses to “The Alternative Johnny Cash?”

  1. I agree, Johnny Cash is as unique as it gets. His voice was so much different than anyone else’s that there was no category to place him in. He sang country music, but his attitude was purely rock and roll. He didn’t sing about the normal country blues, but on the other hand he wasn’t totally rock and roll. I think that Johnny Cash is an entertainer that will live on for many years to come.

  2. 30daysout Says:

    Thanks for writing … you know, I’m going to repost this along with the music. Check back in a couple days!

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