Monday, 4 July 2011


There was a knock on my door last week. Two women. Do you believe in God? No. They smiled sympathetically. How do you think we were created? Er, biology I guess. Ah, they smiled again, some people do think that. They offered to leave me a booklet to read which I politely declined. To convert a confirmed atheist it was a feeble attempt. Their good Lord alone must know their success rate. Not high I shouldn’t wonder. Now, had they left me with Johnny Cash singing “God Must Have My Fortune Laid Away”, “It Was Jesus” or “When He Reached Down His Hand For Me” they would have stood a better chance.

Does the world need another Johnny Cash collection? Sony Music think they can squeeze out a few more bucks from repackaging his catalogue, and in the case of this new budget priced 3-CD collection, they’re right. What’s on offer is six complete albums: The Fabulous Johnny Cash (1959), Hymns (1959), Songs of Our Soil (1959), - yes, three albums from one year – Ride This Train (1960), Now There Was A Song (1960) and Hymns From The Heart (1962), plus associated bonus material from the period, and a few earlier hits tacked on the end. That’s 88 songs in total and apart from a handful where he adopts an annoying narration approach they are all equally good; featuring loads of unfamiliar tracks. There’s little difference in quality between the two gospel LPs and the four secular ones. There’s no booklet but the packaging is smart and the mastering has the voice of the Big JC booming out.

Sister Ray in Berwick Street has it for a piddling £3.99. A certain on-line retailer has it for less than three quid. If you don’t believe that’s amazing value I pity those ladies if they knock on your door.

The Real… Johnny Cash is released by Columbia/Sony.

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