Just in time for Johnny Cash Day - my most sacred
holiday that occurs on September 12 - is a new release from Johnny
Cash. The Great Lost Performance is a live show that
was recorded on July 28, 1990 at Asbury Park, NJ's Paramount Theatre
and features what is probably the finest and liveliest official
live recording of Cash from the 90's. This performance was long
before John had started his slow descent into unhealthiness, and
shows him in high spirits and narrative form. His band is spectacular,
his guest singers amazing, and his voice as beautiful and resonant
as it ever had been. There are some songs here that were rarely
played live, making the performance even more of a special treat.
Johnny starts the show with a laidback version of the classic
"Ring Of Fire" before having the Carter Family
girls join him for a great version of "Life's Railway To
Heaven". Then Johnny boogie-woogies it up with a blasting
version of the gospel boogie "A Wonderful Time Up There",
which is probably one of the highlights of the show for me, as
I had never heard him sing this song. Johnny plays some of his
biggest hits, including a stunning version of "Folsom Prison
Blues" that has all the bite of the original recorded nearly
50 years ago, and a birthday tribute to his good friend Kris
Kristofferson on the Kristofferson-penned "Sunday Morning
Coming Down". This song, being one of the first songs that
I ever remember hearing on the record player, sends chills down
my spine and makes me miss Johnny more today then ever before
and this live version is simply amazing, with a grace and power
that is rare to hear on live records.
Lucy Clark joins Johnny for the spiritual "What Is
Man" before Johnny tells a brief story of how he wrote "Forty
Shades Of Green", which is presented here in a wonderful
arrangement. Then, incredibly, Johnny launches into a "Come
Along And Ride This Train" segment similar to what he used
to do on his television show
this segment where he tells
stories of the land that the train travels through in between
playing sings that relate to the country. He plays some great
stuff like "Five Feet High And Rising" and "Pickin'
Time" before wrapping up his journey with a blistering version
of the classic "Hey Porter". Not one to stop there,
Johnny continues with a touching rendition of "Ragged Old
Flag" and a wonderful version of "Tennessee Flat Top
Box", along with a funny little story about his daughter
Roseanne. Johnny then kicks into a twangy and powerful
version of "Ghost Riders In The Sky" that is simply
perfect in its mood and execution.
The lovely June Carter Cash then joins Johnny for their
trademark duet "Jackson", which finds June growling
and more powerful than ever. They continue with an absolutely
stunning version of "The Wreck Of Old '97" that is filled
with quick swinging drumming and some of the finest guitar work
of the night. Johnny doesn't miss a beat and June is brilliant.
Each of the band members is introduced and takes a little solo,
revealing how humble Johnny was and grateful to the men who played
in his band. The show finishes up with a heartfelt thank you from
Johnny and a great performance of "I Walk The Line"
which leaves the soul aching for the greatness that has left this
world. The set is a non-stop 53 minutes, but Johnny never missed
a beat or lost a breath
He was in high spirits and great
health and his energy and love shows through on the recording.
So hey folks, settle back with a pint or dram and send up a toast
to Johnny Cash. Let's remember the man for the incredible impact
he had on the musical world, as well as all those lives he touched,
whether through his music or his own life. The Great Lost Performance
is one more notch in the belt of probably the greatest country
music artist of all time, and a fitting anniversary tribute to
mark the man's greatness. I know I'll be spinning it over and
over September 12.
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