100 Hits Legends: Johnny Cash

by: Johnny Cash

There are only so many artists whose recording careers were expansive enough that you could collect 100 songs on five discs and not run out of worthwhile material, but Johnny Cash was just that kind of musician, a man who turned out memorable music at a remarkable pace during his glory days in the '50s, '60s, and '70s. 100 Hits Legends: Johnny Cash is, as the title suggests, a box set that includes 100 tunes from Cash's nearly 60 years of record-making, and remarkably enough, the bulk of this material was recorded during Cash's relatively brief tenure with Sun Records, his first label that put his music on wax from 1954 to 1958. While some material from Cash's days with Columbia Records also appears here, 100 Hits Legends is a particularly strong release for fans who are interested in the Man in Black's early years; nearly every recording of consequence from his Sun sessions can be found here, including a few alternate versions and flubbed takes. While this set isn't much in terms of packaging or liner notes, and the sequence on the fifth disc is a bit curious (it features an extended narrative piece that's occasionally interrupted for no clear reason), this delivers plenty of memorable music from one of Cash's most interesting periods, and at a reasonable price. Ultimately this set proves one simple but important point: it's all but impossible to have too much Johnny Cash, and at 100 songs, this set just scratches the surface of his remarkable body of work. ~ Mark Deming

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