Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Best of the Johnny Cash TV Show: 1969-71

Netflix sez... 1969 NR 2 discs
Airing from 1969 to 1971, "The Johnny Cash Show" showcased the musical talents of the country's best artists; this collection rounds up some its most memorable performances, featuring the likes of Ray Charles, Roy Orbison and Bob Dylan, among others. Country legend and host Cash also performs some of his greatest hits, including "Ring of Fire," "I Walk the Line," "A Boy Named Sue," "Man in Black" and many more.

Cast: Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, John Carter Cash, Bill Walker, Penny Lane, Marshall Grant, Bob Dylan, Louis Armstrong, Stevie Wonder, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Linda Ronstadt, George Jones, Waylon Jennings, Tammy Wynette, Marty Robbins, James Taylor, Pete Seeger, Carter Family, The Statler Brothers, Carl Perkins, The Tennessee Three, Mother Maybelle, The Carter Sisters, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Derek and the Dominos, Charley Pride, Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys, Loretta Lynn, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Everly Brothers, Ike Everly, Tommy Cash, Ray Charles, Conway Twitty, Tony Joe White, Glen Campbell, Neil Diamond, Ray Price, Roy Orbison, Chet Atkins, Homer and Jethro, Merle Haggard, Roy Clark, Hank Williams Jr.

The 73rd Virgin sez... Seeing the country and popular music lodestone Mother Maybelle Carter play wicked guitar, in a ridiculous floor length dress so favored by country performers at the time, is more than worth your while. My teenage daughter watched her guitar solo and said "Jesus!". All other performances are either rare or great or both. Even Kristoffersens voice was tolerable 40 years ago. CCR, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, and James Taylor almost never appeared on TV back then, and they are all very good here. Young's "Needle and The Damage Done" must have been recorded at least a year before the Harvest album came out, so that says something for the adventurousness of the show.

Joni Mitchell looks uncomfortable around the pillar of genteel testosterone that Cash was, but sings beautifully and respectfully, and Linda Rondstadt is a revelation in more ways than one. A slicked-back Waylon Jennings and the young, silent, smirking Jessi Colter (sp?) on keyboards are a hoot when you consider what they became. Interviews and voice-overs are dull and repetitive, assigning social significance but ignoring the most significant virtue of all, that is, a skilled and respectful performer and musicologist got to program his own music show. And he went with all quality. Very entertaining for any popular music fan.

DISC 2 UPDATE: The second disc suffers a bit with too much June Carter Cash poetry and comedy bits, but there is less blathering about the importance of the show. Derek and The Dominos were together no more than a year, and yet here they are in clear video and full stereo. Astonishing bits of history abound.

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