Though a good deal of Johnny Cash's gospel work for Columbia has been largely forgotten, The Gospel Collection is a fine representation of his gospel period. All but one of the 24 tracks that comprise this collection have been culled from 1959's Hymns by Johnny Cash and 1961's Hymns from the Heart, and represent the gospel tracks that Cash had been wanting to record (which precipitated his move to Columbia since Sam Phillips wouldn't permit Cash to record them with Sun). Cash wrote or arranged ten of the tracks represented, with the other 14 being traditionals or songs written by some of Cash's contemporary Christian songwriter friends. Though guitarist Luther Perkins and bassist Marshall Grant only appear on six tracks, the classic Cash sound remains largely intact on tracks such as his own lively "It Was Jesus" and the traditional standard "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot." Though probably not essential for most casual Cash fans, The Gospel Collection remains a significant piece of the sinner/saint paradox that runs through most of Cash's classic work.
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AllMusic Review by Matt Fink