Johnny Cash

The Greatest: Duets

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As part of Columbia/Legacy's ongoing celebration of Johnny Cash's 80th Birthday in 2012, the label assembled a series of compilations under the rubric "The Greatest." The concept of this 14-track compilation is clear: it is a collection of duets Cash cut for Columbia between 1967 and 1985. Some of these cuts appeared on albums by other artists ("Girl from the North Country" is pulled from Bob Dylan's Nashville Skyline), some were not released at the time (his George Jones duet "I Got Stripes" was a bonus track on the 2002 reissue of Silver), some are pulled from Cash's TV show (the opening "I've Been Everywhere" with Lynn Anderson), a few are duets with his wife June Carter Cash, and a couple are with his Highwaymen companions Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, while most derive from albums Cash released himself over the years. Despite this pedigree, some of these duets veer toward the glitzy showbiz side -- "There Ain't No Good Chain Gang" has splashy horns, the production of the Ray Charles duet "Crazy Old Soldier" is so slick you can see your reflection in it -- but that's not necessarily a bad thing, as there's always an easy camaraderie between Cash and his partners, which is enough to keep things enjoyable throughout.

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