Greatest Hits & Now Here's Johnny Cash

by: Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash wasn't the first singer to walk away from Sam Phillips and Sun Records in search of greener pastures elsewhere, but with the exception of Elvis Presley he was surely the label's greatest loss from a financial standpoint, with Cash remaining a top-selling artist for decades after leaving Sun in 1958. While Cash continued to score major hits with Columbia, Sun scoured their vaults for unreleased or little-heard material on the Man In Black, and 1959's Greatest! and 1961's Now Here's Johnny Cash were two albums Sun compiled from archival material that have been paired up for a two-fer reissue from the U.K. Charly label. Both albums were an odd mixture of early hits, B-sides, unreleased masters and demos that were dressed up with overdubs, and they don't sound any less curious in this context, but given the strength of Cash's body of work for Sun, this disc is also a fun listen most of the time. The highlights are stuff easily found on any decent collection of Sun-era Cash -- "Hey Porter," "Home of the Blues," "Get Rhythm," "Cry! Cry! Cry," and "Luther Played the Boogie" -- but there are some solid lesser tracks on board as well, including some fine Hank Williams covers, a few rarely heard originals (most notably "My Treasure" and "Port of Lonely Hearts"), and some amusing curiosities, such as Cash tackling the McGuire Sisters' hit "Sugartime." However, the fact of the matter is Johnny Cash recorded enough fine music during his three years at Sun Records that it would be difficult to compile an album from the material that wouldn't be enjoyable, and while this is worth a listen for fans eager to investigate the stranger nooks and crannies of Cash's catalog, these are plenty of anthologies of his Sun sessions that are more satisfying. Nevertheless, Charly has gone the extra mile to do right by this material; four bonus tracks have been included (including demos of "Country Boy" and "Rock 'n' Roll Ruby" and the original take of "Fool's Hall of Fame") and the package includes the original artwork for both LPs in addition to a fine essay by Clive Anderson. ~ Mark Deming

Please enable Javascript to view this page competely.