- Released: February 1, 2008
- Originally Released: 2008
- Label: Sbme Special Mkts.
Q - 6/02, p.1313 stars out of 5
- "...A colourful song cycle placing [Cash] firmly in Woody Guthrie's camp..."
- 1.Loading Coal
- 2.Slow Rider
- 4.Dorraine Of Ponchartrain
- 5.Going To Memphis
- 6.When Papa Played The Dobro
- 7.Boss Jack
- 8.Old Doc Brown
- 9.The Fable Of Willie Brown
- 10.Second Honeymoon
- 11.The Ballad Of The Harpweaver
- 12.Smiling Bill McCall
Personnel: Johnny Cash (vocals, guitar); Luther Perkins, Johnny Western (guitar); Harold B. "Shot" Jackson (steel guitar, dobro); Gordon N. Terry (fiddle); Floyd Cramer (piano); Marshall Grant (bass); Murray M. "Buddy" Harman Jr., (drums).
Includes liner notes by Arthur Levy.
Digitally remastered by Mark Wilder and Seth Foster (Song Music Studios, New York, New York).
The artistic freedom Johnny Cash gained when he left Sun Records for Columbia at the end of the 1950s was first exemplified by 1959's HYMNS album, but the following year's RIDE THIS TRAIN took Cash's conceptual explorations into previously unimagined realms. A full-blown concept album featuring sound effects and lengthy narratives would never have happened on Sun founder Sam Philips's watch, but the newly unfettered Cash reveled in the opportunity to make this striking, distinctive record. The album was billed as a "travelogue of America," and Cash neatly combines his passions for American history, storytelling, and the magic of trains to present portraits of the country he loved.
Each track on RIDE THIS TRAIN begins with Cash delivering a monologue over train sounds, taking the roles of characters from different walks and eras of American life, followed by a song further illustrating the tale. This album represented not only a structural/conceptual innovation for Cash, but a stylistic one as well. Most of the tunes are led by acoustic guitar, and the American musical idioms explore include not only country, but folk, country blues, and work songs. The four bonus tracks included on this reissue don't fall into the format of the rest of the album, but are nevertheless welcome, making good use of the tasteful addition of drums to Cash's tried-and-true Tennessee Two guitars-and-bass approach.