AT SAN QUENTIN (THE COMPLETE 1969 CONCERT)

FISH GRIWKOWSKY

, Last Updated: 1:42 PM ET


AT SAN QUENTIN (THE COMPLETE 1969 CONCERT)
Johnny Cash
(Sony)

It is a rare thing that's happened here. A wish was made in this harried space a couple months back and sure enough it's come true. They've finally released the entire Johnny Cash 1969 San Quentin, California, prison show, including the racy lyrics in A Boy Named Sue, covered by a dull beep for more than 30 years.

Childish urges to hear dirty words aside, this is a hell of a good show. Cash is at his best here, sassy, belligerent to the guards and chatty to the oft-abused prisoners who, it should be mentioned, had done some very bad things. Still, they were people.

Inmate Merle Haggard came out of that very room after watching Cash play on New Year's Day 1958 a changed man, remember.

Johnny recalls a tale when he got thrown in jail for picking flowers and breaking curfew, then busts into the hilarious Starkville City Jail. He has to play San Quentin twice after the audience goes ape for its call for the prison to be torn down.

That's all history, of course. We've heard it before. What's new on this American Milestones version are the extra songs, plus the fact they're played in order now. Cash starts off with the unearthed Big River and I Still Miss Someone. A live Folsom Prison Blues is a new release, as is a killer medley at the end which includes that song, I Walk the Line, Ring of Fire and The Rebel - Johnny Yuma, sung by everyone in the band, from June Carter Cash to the Statler Brothers to Mother Maybelle of the Carter Family. Carl Perkins is playing along, too. That's a pretty solid moment in country music never widely released before, a brushstroke of the genre coming back into style amid the psychedelic movement. Speaking of Dylan, his collaboration with Cash on Wanted Man is another mean tune.

This is essential Cash, better than At Folsom Prison, though the two complement each other nicely, like old prison mates. Note: This show was also the source of Cash's famous "giving the bird" photo, as some BBC cameramen refused to get out from the middle of the Man in Black and his audience.

Historically solid, it's really just great music that makes this a five-star record. Go buy it right now, brother, and get back to your cell.

Track Listing 1.Big River
  02.I Still Miss Someone
  03.Wreck Of The Old 97
  04.I Walk The Line
  05.Darlin' Companion
  06.I Don't Know Where I'm Bound
  07.Starkville City Jail
  08.San Quentin
  09.San Quentin
  10.Wanted Man
  11.A Boy Named Sue
  12.(There'll Be) Peace In the Valley
  13.Folsom Prison Blues
  14.Ring Of Fire
  15.He Turned The Water Into Wine
  16.Daddy Sang Bass
  17.The Old Account Was Settled Long Ago
  18.Closing Medley: Folsom Prison Blues/I Walk The Line/Ring Of Fire/The Rebel
 


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