Johnny Cash

16 Biggest Hits, Vol. 2

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On this unusual collection, sheer quality wins out over any questions raised about truth in packaging. One is hard pressed to conjure a universe in which these were 16 of Johnny Cash's biggest hits, but they're certainly some of his finest recordings, and a number of the tunes included here are difficult to come by elsewhere. This compilation offers everything from the humorous hard-luck story "Busted" (which many know from its Ray Charles version) to Tim Hardin's poignant folk ballad "Lady Came from Baltimore" and Kris Kristofferson's modern parable "To Beat the Devil," all of which number among the most memorable recordings of Cash's mid-period catalogue. Sure, you've heard the harmonica-driven train song "Orange Blossom Special" many times before if you're even a casual Cash fan, but odds are you haven't heard "Blistered," a horny, light-hearted rockabilly slash-and-burner about lust and drug addiction. This left field number is one of Cash's more obscure items, but it's also one of his best, and its the kind of thing this collection offers the all-too-rare opportunity to sample.

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