Boom Chicka Boom

Johnny Cash

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Boom Chicka Boom Review

by Thom Jurek

Boom Chicka Boom is one of those Johnny Cash records that touches on everything, from the craziness of being backstage at a Willie Nelson gig to a stirring cover of "Family Bible" (with Cash's mom singing backing vocals) to Harry Chapin's "Cat's in the Cradle" (done Tennessee Three style) to the custom-fitted "Hidden Shame" (written for Cash by Elvis Costello). But it's Cash's own songs that give this record its merit: the funny and poignant "A Backstage Pass," the solid bluesy morality tale "Farmer's Almanac," the rollicking environmentalist anthem "Don't Go Near the Water," and "I Love You, Love You." "Harley," by Chick Rains and Michael Martin Murphey, is a vehicle made for a singer like Cash, written about a down and outer whose entire life consisted of working the assembly line -- until one of those magic moments where a choice gets made, something gets traded in for something gained, and what's lost is its own gain. There's more rock than billy and more country than Willie here, and while the tracks add up to a fine record, it does lack the loose feel of Johnny Cash Is Coming to Town, in part because Bob Moore isn't Cowboy Jack Clement, and the other part is that the family, friends, and regular road band that made that earlier record feel so hand in glove are all absent here. The studio cats like Reggie Young, Hargus Robins, and Roy Huskey, Jr. are fine players and they work well with Cash, but they don't make him go as deep as he could with these songs. So it's a good record, but not a great one.

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