- Number of Discs: 4
- Released: August 16, 2005
- Originally Released: 2005
- Label: Sony
Description by OLDIES.com:
Johnny Cash: The Legend
is easily the most far-reaching collection ever assembled in celebration of the pathfinding work of the "Man in Black." Singer and songwriter, sinner and Christian, John R. Cash, son of a sharecropper from the dirt-poor, cotton-farming town of Kingsland, Ark., battled his demons on stages from Folsom Prison to Carnegie Hall. Wielding an acoustic guitar and his patented "boom-chicka-boom" Tennessee two-beat, Cash essayed a multifarious repertoire that drew from nearly every page of the American Roots Music Songbook. From sacred to strung out, mountain ballads to rockabilly boogie, tales of the range, the road, the rails, and home-sweet-home, and love songs from the public domain to Dylan, and beyond, Cash would not be pigeonholed.
This four-CD set, covering the years 1955-2002, commemorates the Golden Anniversary of Cash's recording career; his debut-on-disc was for the fabled Sun label, one of seven record companies from whose archives this anthology draws in order to paint a many-sided musical portrait of Johnny Cash: The Legend. The majority of the 104 songs herein (28 of them written or co-written by Cash) were made for Columbia, for which he was a best-selling artist from 1958 to 1986; seven selections are previously unreleased.
Rolling Stone - No. 985, p.824.5 out of 5 stars
- "...even without his astonishing final chapter, this is a feast of Cash."
Spin - p.107
"[T]his four-disc box has all the great old stuff, plus a sprinkling from his Rick Rubin-produced renaissance."
Uncut - p.1325 stars out of 5
- "Prolific, restless, ambitious and contradictory, Cash became a genre unto himself, swerving from rockabilly to gospel, drug-addled outlawry to staunch moralism, homespun folk to grand Nashville productions."
Personnel: Johnny Cash (vocals, guitar); Waylon Jennings, Elvis Costello, Billy Joe Shaver, Bob Dylan (vocals, guitar); Rodney Crowell, Rosanne Cash, Ray Charles (vocals); Bob Johnson (guitar, mandocello); Dave Edmunds, Doc Watson, Marty Stewart, Jack Clement, Jerry Hensley, Jerry Reed, Merle Watson, Randy Scruggs, Ray Edenton, Billy Lee Riley, Billy Sanford, Luther Perkins, Bob Wootton, Carl Perkins (guitar); Don Helms, Pete Drake (steel guitar); Norman Blake (dobro); Mother Maybelle Carter (autoharp); Rufus Long (flute); Charlie McCoy (harmonica); Jo-El Sonnier (accordion); Floyd Cramer, Ben Tench, Bill Pursell (piano); Larry Butler , Hargus "Pig" Robbins (keyboards); Brian Eno (synthesizer); Nick Lowe (bass guitar); Kenny Malone, Buddy Harman (drums); Flood (loops).
Few artists in any genre can rival the recorded legacy of Johnny Cash, so it's impressive that Columbia took on the daunting task of compiling a box set that spans his career from 1955 to 2002. While this collection doesn't feature tracks from any of Cash's acclaimed albums for the American label, it does present a few songs recorded during that '90s/early-'00s era, offering listeners selections that touch upon each decade of the country superstar's studio output.
With its thematically arranged CDs, THE LEGEND revisits a number of Cash's finest Sun singles, showcasing his unmistakable deep voice and signature "boom-chicka-boom" sound on classics such as "I Walk the Line" and "Folsom Prison Blues." The bulk of the songs here, however, come from Cash's extensive Columbia '58-'86 run, most notably the passionate "Ring of Fire" (co-penned by his future wife, June Carter) and "A Boy Named Sue," his tongue-in-cheek narrative hit. The fourth disc focuses on Cash's many collaborations, presenting the Man in Black paired with everyone from the Carter Family to Bob Dylan to U2. While longtime Cash fans may own many of these recordings, this set is ideal for aficionados of his latter-day American albums who want an excellent overview of his truly legendary history.