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* box set *

Recorded: 1955-1983

Released: 1992

Rating: 4.835 (average of 10 ratings)

Genre: country

Quotable: --

Album Tracks, Disc 1:
1. Hey Porter 2. Cry, Cry, Cry 3. Folsom Prison Blues 4. Luther Played the Boogie 5. Get Rhythm 6. I Walk the Line 7. Home of the Blues 8. Give My Love to Rose 9. Rock Island Line 10. Doin’ My Time 11. Big River 12. Ballad of a Teenage Queen 13. Guess Things Happen That Way 14. The Ways of a Woman in Love 15. Thanks a Lot 16. Oh, What a Dream 17. What Do I Care 18. All Over Again 19. I Still Miss Someone 20. I’d Just Be Fool Enough to Fall 21. Walking the Blues 22. Frankie’s Man, Johnny 23. Tennessee Flat-Top Box 24. Sing It Pretty, Sue 25. Pickin’ Time 26. Five Feet High and Rising 27. The Old Account 28. Peace in the Valley 29. Were You There When They Crucified My Lord

Album Tracks, Disc 2:
1. Don’t Take Your Guns to Town 2. The Ballad of Boot Hill 3. The Rebel Johnny Yuma 4. The Big Battle 5. When the Roses Bloom Again 6. The Ballad of Ira Hayes 7. The Legend of John Henry’s Hammer 8. Dark As a Dungeon 9. The Long Black Veil 10. I Got Stripes 11. 25 Minutes to Go 12. The Wall 13. Busted [with the Carter Family] 14. Bad News 15. Dirty Old Egg-Sucking Dog 16. Orange Blossom Special 17. Ring of Fire 18. Understand Your Man 19. Jackson [with June Carter] 20. Blistered 21. See Ruby Fall 22. Cisco Clifton’s Fillin’ Station 23. Daddy Sang Bass

Album Tracks, Disc 3:
1. Folsom Prison Blues (live) 2. Cocaine Blues (live) 3. San Quentin #2 (live) 4. A Boy Named Sue (live) 5. Wanted Man 6. Singin’ in Vietnam Talkin’ Blues 7. The Man in Black 8. What Is Truth 9. Flesh and Blood 10. Sunday Morning Coming Down 11. Oney 12. One Piece at a Time [with the Tennessee Three] 13. Hit the Road and Go 14. Rockabilly Blues (Texas 1955) 15. I Will Rock and Roll with You 16. No Expectations 17. Ghost Riders in the Sky 18. Bull Rider 19. Highway Patrolman 20. After the Ball 21. Without Love 22. The Last Time 23. I’m Gonna Sit on the Porch and Pick on My Old Guitar

Sales (in millions):

sales in U.S. only 1.0
sales in U.K. only - estimated --
sales in all of Europe as determined by IFPI – click here to go to their site. --
sales worldwide - estimated 1.0


peak on U.S. Billboard album chart --
peak on U.K. album chart --

Singles/Hit Songs:

  • Cry, Cry, Cry (11/26/55) #14 CW
  • Folsom Prison Blues (2/4/56) #4 CW, air: 1.0 m
  • I Walk the Line (6/9/56) #1 CW, #17 US, air: 1.0 m
  • Get Rhythm (6/9/56) #23 CW, #60 US
  • Home of the Blues (9/16/57) #3 CW, #88 US
  • Give My Love to Rose (9/16/57) #13 CW
  • Ballad of a Teenage Queen (1/20/58) #1 CW, #14 US
  • Big River (1/20/58) #4 CW
  • Guess Things Happen That Way (5/26/58) #1 CW, #11 US
  • The Ways of a Woman in Love (8/25/58) #2 CW, #24 US
  • Luther Played the Boogie (3/30/59) #8 CW
  • Thanks a Lot (3/30/59) #12 CW
  • Ring of Fire (6/1/63) #1 CW, #63 US, air: 1.0 m
  • Folsom Prison Blues (live) (6/1/68) #1 CW, #32 US, #39 AC
  • All Over Again (10/6/58) #4 CW, #38 US
  • What Do I Care (10/6/58) #7 CW, #52 US
  • Don’t Take Your Guns to Town (1/19/59) #1 CW, #32 US
  • Frankie’s Man, Johnny (4/27/59) #9 CW, #57 US
  • I Got Stripes (8/3/59) #4 CW, #43 US
  • Five Feet High and Rising (8/3/59) #14 CW, #76 US
  • The Rebel Johnny Yuma (6/12/61) #24 CW
  • Tennessee Flat-Top Box (11/13/61) #11 CW, #84 US
  • The Big Battle (3/31/62) #24 CW
  • Busted (4/6/63) #13 CW
  • Ring of Fire (6/1/63) #1 CW, #63 US, air: 1.0 m
  • Understand Your Man (2/15/64) #1 CW, #35 US, #11 AC
  • Dark As a Dungeon (2/15/64) #49 CW
  • The Ballad of Ira Hayes (7/11/64) #3 CW
  • Orange Blossom Special (2/13/65) #3 CW, #80 US
  • Jackson (3/4/67) #2 CW
  • Folsom Prison Blues (live) (6/1/68) #1 CW, #32 US, #39 AC
  • Daddy Sang Bass (12/7/68) #1 CW, #42 US, air: 1.0 m
  • A Boy Named Sue (live) (7/26/69) #1 CW, #2 US, #4 UK, #1 AC, sales: 0.5 m, air: 1.0 m
  • Blistered (11/22/69) #4 CW, #50 US
  • See Ruby Fall (11/22/69) #75 US
  • Rock Island Line (2/28/70) #35 CW, #93 US
  • What Is Truth (4/11/70) #3 CW, #19 US, #21 UK, #4 AC
  • Sunday Morning Coming Down (8/29/70) #1 CW, #46 US, #13 AC, air: 1.0 m
  • Flesh and Blood (12/12/70) #1 CW, #54 US, #19 AC
  • The Man in Black (3/20/71) #3 CW, #58 US, #28 AC
  • Singin’ in Vietnam Talkin’ Blues (6/26/71) #18 CW
  • Oney (8/26/72) #2 CW
  • One Piece at a Time (4/10/76) #1 CW, #29 US, #32 UK, #6 AC
  • After the Ball (10/22/77) #32 CW
  • I Will Rock and Roll with You (1/13/79) #21 CW
  • Ghost Riders in the Sky (5/19/79) #2 CW
  • Bull Rider (4/19/80) #66 CW
  • The Last Time (11/29/80) #85 CW
  • Without Love (1/24/81) #78 CW



The Essential Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash
“Assembling a comprehensive multi-disc Johnny Cash collection is a difficult task for a variety of reasons, not the least of it being the sheer number of records Cash put out in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Counting duets, he had over 130 charting singles, which is far too much for the average box set, plus those singles don’t necessarily tell the full story of Cash the recording artist, since he was a prolific album artist, as well.” STE

“Then, there’s the sheer variety of what he recorded – rockabilly, folk tunes, tales of gunslingers and Indians, scores of novelty numbers, gospel, Americana kitsch, train songs, pop, and straight-ahead country, he tried it all, giving it all his own unique stamp, distinguished by his booming voice and the distinctive two-step muted rhythm picked out by his guitarist, Luther Perkins.” STE

“In other words, there is a lot of material to choose from, and while it all sounds similar – in that it all sounds like Johnny Cash music – there are so many themes and styles, it’s difficult to distill it down to the essentials, as Columbia/Legacy’s 1992 triple-disc box set The Essential Johnny Cash 1955-1983 attempts to do. Spanning 75 tracks, this takes in nearly three decades of Cash’s career, starting at Sun and ending when Cash left the label in the mid-‘80s. It hits all the big, iconic hits – Folsom Prison Blues, I Walk the Line, Ballad of a Teenage Queen, Guess Things Happen That Way, Don’t Take Your Guns to Town, I Got Stripes, Ring of Fire, Daddy Sang Bass, A Boy Named Sue – but makes no pretense of containing all the hits, and in fact leaves many other hit singles behind, not to mention album tracks.” STE

“There really isn’t anything big missing – after all, all but one song from the 1967 Columbia Greatest Hits is here – but what makes a box set great is the quality of the songs that aren’t the hits, and here Essential is a bit wobbly. It’s hurt by the compilers’ desire to touch upon every style Cash performed, sometimes to the detriment of overall listenability – and that listenability is also hurt by the sequencing, which is just slightly non-chronological (‘Don’t Take Your Guns to Town,’ his first Columbia single, is saved for the second disc opener, long after we’re already in Columbia territory; on the second disc, 1965’s Orange Blossom Special is followed by 1963’s ‘Ring of Fire’), which hampers the momentum in subtle, but noticeable ways.” STE

“Then, there’s the song selection. While there’s nothing bad here (although the novelty numbers or topical songs may wear on some listener’s nerves), apart from the aforementioned big hits – along with other iconic songs like The Rebel – Johnny Yuma, The Ballad of Ira Hayes, and Cocaine Blues – it’s hard not to feel that for every merely good song here, there’s something better that could have been included instead, particularly because there are indeed many great tracks left behind.” STE

“These are the things that prevent this box from being one of the great country box sets – compare it to Merle Haggard’s Down Every Road, for instance, a set that captures a complex figure in all of his glory – and keep it from being as definitive as it seems. As a basic library piece, it’s pretty good – after all, it has all the basics from Sun and Columbia in one place – but given its idiosyncrasies, it’s not an ideal introduction, and it also shouldn’t be seen as a one-stop summary of everything worthy Johnny Cash did at Sun and Columbia. It is a good sampler of what he did at those two labels, but once you know the lay of the land, other compilations and proper albums are easier to listen to and more enjoyable.” STE

Review Source(s):

Related DMDB Links:

Johnny Cash’s DMDB page

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Last updated March 6, 2011.