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"The Great Lost Performance" by Johnny Cash

Click to buy at Amazon.com Reviewed by Terry Cochran

In the 1950's and 1960's one of the dominant stars of country and western music was Johnny Cash. With songs like "I Walk The Line", "Folsom Prison Blues", and "Ring Of Fire", he blazed a trail as a true American star.

Cash later became "invisible," as he called it, during the middle of his career. He kept performing, even while recovering from alcohol abuse and drug addiction, but his star seemed to fade in the public eye. Thanks to teaming up with producer Rick Rubin in the mid-'90's, however, Cash ended his career back on top. Prior to his death in 2003, he won Grammy awards in both the contemporary folk and country categories.

Now comes a newly-released CD, "The Great Lost Performance", as a shining example of the talent Cash displayed even during those "invisible" middle years. Recorded in the unlikely country venue of Asbury Park, New Jersey, this live performance captures Cash, his wife, and his band as they sounded in 1990. Newly mixed from the recently located tapes of the concert, the collection contains 18 tracks of vintage Cash.

Starting with "Ring Of Fire" and ending with "I Walk The Line", the set list delivered many of his greatest hits. Also there are a sampling of gospel, folk, and other story songs, including newly-penned material in which Cash talks about mortality and his own relationship with God.

From the traditional "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash" to the ending duets with wife June Carter Cash, this is a mellow evening, highlighted by the band's easy-going arrangements and their obvious enjoyment of all being on the stage together. This is not a "greatest hits" CD, nor does it contain versions of the songs that radio listeners came to know and love. What it does have, though, are a clarity, an energy, and a joy that are just fun to hear.

The intros and the stories between songs add to the view of Cash as incredibly comfortable on stage and as someone you just plain enjoy listening to. For a fresh look at an American icon, pick up "The Great Lost Performance". It's a pleasant hour of music, reminiscent of Grand Ole Opry radio hours of old.

Click below to hear samples of each track or to buy MP3 copies of them:

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