Hippo Manchester
December 1, 2005

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Johnny Cash, The Legend of Johnny Cash

Universal Music Company, 2005

**

The Legend of Johnny Cash is one of those career-spanning compilations, ranging from Cash’s first hit (1954, Sun Records), “Cry, Cry, Cry,” to 2003’s “Hurt,” produced by star re-maker Rick Rubin. There are 21 tracks on the disk, in order of release date, every one a favorite of Cash fans.

The problem is, any Cash fan already has these songs. Sure, it’s interesting to hear, in one sitting, how Cash’s voice and style changed over the years. You can hear the drugs and then the sobriety. Heck, you can even hear a difference in the music he recorded after he cracked up June Carter’s Cadillac in the night he was kicked off the Grand Old Opry in the late 1950s. (He’d broken his nose, again.) But there is nothing new about the disk.

New fans, and there likely will be a lot of interest engendered by Cash’s upcoming biopic Walk the Line (Nov. 18), will enjoy it, as it gives them every Cash hit from every decade of his recording career. It’s a quick hit.

Frankly, I bought the disk for the liner notes, knowing I already had every song on the record. Considering I’ve read both of Cash’s autobiographies, I didn’t find anything new there either. In fact, I found a mistake, leading me to believe the album was a rush job.

Sorry, Johnny, there’s not much of a legacy in The Legend.

— Robert Greene