Johnny Cash

Greatest!

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The title of Johnny Cash's third album for Sun Records, 1959's Greatest!, suggests that Cash's career already merited an anthology of hits a mere four years after he first hit the charts with "Cry! Cry! Cry!." However, this wasn't quite the case, and Greatest! was actually a collection of B-side and unreleased tunes Cash had left behind when he parted ways with Sun to sign with Columbia in 1958. The irony is there's a dearth of actual hits on Greatest!, and while the sizable majority of Cash's Sun output was outstanding, this album is decidedly weaker than the two Sun long-players which had preceded it. However, there are a handful of gems to be found here -- the rollicking "Get Rhythm," a fine cover of Charlie Feathers' "I Forgot to Remember to Forget," a pair of solid Hank Williams interpretations ("You Win Again" and "Hey Good Lookin'"), and his tribute to the singular talents of guitarist Luther Perkins, "Luther Played the Boogie." While Sam Phillips and his staff polished a few of these tunes with overdubs after the fact, they still sound leaner and more intense than Cash's early Columbia sides, and while Greatest! is second-tier stuff from his Sun period, there's still some great music here from one of the most powerful voices in country music.

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