Johnny Cash

20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Johnny Cash

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When he was dropped by Columbia Records after 28 years in 1986, Johnny Cash immediately signed to Mercury Records, for whom he recorded with middling success over the next few years. There is a reasonable compilation to be constructed from this material, a collection that, for example, might include Cash's version of Elvis Costello's "The Big Light" (from 1987's Is Coming to Town) and the Paul McCartney collaboration "New Moon Over Jamaica" (from 1988's Water From the Wells of Home), but this isn't it. During the course of his tenure at Mercury, Cash made the mistake of agreeing to cut a low-budget quickie album for the European market on which he only covered a bunch of his old hits. You guessed it: Classic Cash: Hall of Fame Series (1988) was issued stateside, too, the excuse being a tie-in with a Cash exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame. The compilers of this discount-priced compilation have pulled nine of 12 tracks from that album. So, instead of being a collection that would accurately represent Cash's stint at Mercury, this is just an attempt to fool consumers into buying a bunch of re-recordings. Too bad.

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