- Number of Discs: 2
- Released: February 12, 2002
- Originally Released: 2002
- Label: Sony
Rolling Stone - 2/28/02, p.584.5 stars out of 5
- "...It's the intro to pick up today if you don't have one, and further proof that he's a man for all situations - emotional, political and cultural..."
Down Beat - June 2002, p.624 out of 5 stars
- "...The true blue American wrapped in Old Glory..."
Tracks on Disc 1:
- 1.Hey Porter
- 2.Cry, Cry, Cry
- 3.I Walk The Line
- 4.Get Rhythm
- 5.There You Go
- 6.Ballad Of A Teenage Queen
- 7.Big River
- 8.Guess Things Happen That Way
- 9.All Over Again
- 10.Don't Take Your Guns To Town
- 11.Five Feet High And Rising
- 12.The Rebel-Johnny Yuma
- 13.Tennessee Flat-Top Box
- 14.I Still Miss Someone
- 15.Ring Of Fire
- 16.The Ballad Of Ira Hayes
- 17.Orange Blossom Special
- 18.Were You There (When They Crucified My Lord)
Tracks on Disc 2:
- 1.It Ain't Me, Babe (w/ June Carter Cash)
- 2.The One On The Right Is On The Left
- 3.Jackson (w/ June Carter Cash)
- 4.Folsom Prison Blues (Live)
- 5.Daddy Sang Bass
- 6.Girl From The North Country (w/ Bob Dylan)
- 7.A Boy Named Sue (Live)
- 8.If I Were A Carpenter
- 9.Sunday Morning Coming Down
- 10.Flesh And Blood
- 11.Man In Black
- 12.Ragged Old Flag
- 13.One Piece At A Time
- 14.(Ghost) Riders In The Sky
- 15.Song Of The Patriot (w/ Marty Robbins)
- 16.Highwayman (w/ Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson)
- 17.The Night Hank Williams Came To Town (w/ Waylon Jennings)
- 18.The Wanderer (w/ U2)
Personnel includes: Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, Marty Robbins, The Carter Family, June Carter Cash, U2.
Producers include: Sam Phillips, Jack Clement, Don Law, Frank Jones, Bob Johnston.
Compilation producers: Nick Shaffran, Nedra Olds-Neal.
Recorded between May 1955 and May 1993.
All tracks have been digitally remastered.
Recording information: Dublin, Ireland (05/??/1955-03/05/1993); Folsom Prison, Sacramento, CA (05/??/1955-03/05/1993); Hendersonville, TN (05/??/1955-03/05/1993); Hollywood, CA (05/??/1955-03/05/1993); Los Angeles, CA (05/??/1955-03/05/1993); Memphis, TN (05/??/1955-03/05/1993); Nashville, TN (05/??/1955-03/05/1993); San Quentin Prison, CA (05/??/1955-03/05/1993).
Photographers: Don Hunstein; Urve Kuusik; Sandy Speiser; Marvin Koner.
Arranger: Johnny Cash.
In the past, if you wanted a Johnny Cash compilation, you were basically confined by licensing issues, as Cash's seminal Sun recordings weren't generally available in the same place as his more eclectic Columbia output. THE ESSENTIAL JOHNNY CASH solves that problem, tying together the various eras of Cash's career on a generous 35-track, two-disc set. Accordingly, this anthology is damn near definitive. From the raw, sparse rockabilly flavor of "Hey Porter" and "Get Rhythm" to the gospel roots of "Where You There (When They Crucified My Lord," the first disc moves neatly through Cash's early career.
Disc two documents Cash's expansion into ever more varied stylistic avenues. Countrified covers of Bob Dylan ("It Ain't Me Babe") and Tim Hardin ("If I Were a Carpenter") exemplify his fascination with folk-rock. The socially conscious "Man in Black" and the patriotic "Ragged Old Flag" perfectly display the ostensibly conflicting sides of this complex artist's sensibilities. Album-closer "The Wanderer" finds Cash collaborating with U2, filling his role as icon to a whole new generation of artists.