Addicted To Vinyl Musical thoughts from the open road, with headphones on

1Jul/095

It’s a Bleedin’ Board: The Man in Black is Back

Welcome to “It’s a Bleedin’ Board,” a periodic review of great bootlegs from my eclectic archives.

Today we’re checking out an artist truly deserving of being called a legend, Johnny Cash. Hell, he was a legend after only about 10 years in the business, still a legend before Nashville shunned him in the 80s, a legend recreated in 1994 with the help of Rick Rubin, and finally a legend in death. That’s one legendary career.

glastonbury_best-gal-05.jpg

This performance is from June 1994 at the annual Glastonbury Festival, a name familiar to all bootleg collectors since about a billion boots sprang from BBC broadcasts over the years straight from Worthy Farm.

Johnny’s career had just been revived thanks to the release of American Recordings, a collection of stark songs which featured Johnny and his acoustic guitar and a welcome dose of hands-off production by Def Jam founder Rick Rubin.

Never before had anyone just let Cash turn it loose with a guitar and that voice. It was a stroke of genius that brought him new found fame, fans and respect.

Now on to the show…

“Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.”

Kicking it off with the best outlaw song ever written, “Folsom Prison Blues,” Johnny brings it strong right away leaving no doubt that at 62 years old, he was still the baddest man in town.

“Get Rhythm,” a true rockabilly classic from 1956 follows and gives the band, which features the master of rockabilly shuffle, drummer W.S. Holland, guitarist supreme Bob Wootton, and Nashville fixture Dave Roe on bass, a chance to really lock in.

The hits keep comin’ with “Sunday Morning Comin’ Down,” the CMA Song of the Year in 1970 written by Kris Kristofferson. It sounds great here and still evokes the emerging sense of versatility that Johnny was searching for in 1970 and displaying at the Festival.

“Ring of Fire,” the song that would define Johnny’s love for June Carter, jumps up quickly and, despite the absence of the mariachi horns, reminds us how powerful a song can be in less than three minutes.

“Thank you. I love you people.”

Speaking of short songs, Cash brings out another one of his brief but poignant tales of love, “I Guess Things Happen That Way.” Ever the picture of conflicted emotion, this song says a lot in a little bit of time and keeps the easy confident feel of the older material flowing.

“I really looked forward to coming to Glastonbury. I never expected such a reception and I really appreciate it a lot.”

The crowd is thrilled to be in Johnny’s presence and grows more so as the show continues. If only the dork with the whistle would give it a rest once in awhile…

Next up is the portion of the show where Cash debuts four new songs for the audience. He sounds reinforced by the crowd but also tentative in bringing them forward. The American Recordings album represented a big change aimed at a new audience. Good or bad, this gig would go a long way in telling the story of the new Johnny Cash.

From the open of “Delia’s Gone,” and through “The Beast in Me,” "Let the Train Blow the Whistle,” and “Bird on a Wire,” his voice wavers a bit but he’s in control of the material and is well-received.

Hurdle cleared, it’s back to old business.

“Big River” comes barreling in followed by the arrival of June Carter - “We got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout…”and the great duet “Jackson.”

“Orange Blossom Special” and “A Boy Named Sue” close out the broadcast with authority and leave me wanting more and that’s the mark of a good show.

Considering that this comes from a radio broadcast laid to tape, the quality is very good. It does suffer from arbitrary edits but none of the content is cut aside from station IDs.

The broadcast runs 44 minutes without commercials.

complete zipped download

Check out these cover versions of songs appearing on this bootleg:

Reverend Horton Heat - “Get Rhythm” from Dressed in Black: A Tribute to Johnny Cash 2002

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes - “Sunday Morning Comin’ Down” from Love Their Country 2006

Social Distortion – “Ring of Fire” from Social Distortion 1990

Nick Lowe – “The Beast In Me’ from The Impossible Bird 1994

Leonard Cohen – “Bird On a Wire” from Songs From a Room 1989

Joshua James – “A Boy Named Sue” from Tanked Up and Derailed 1999
**Written by Shel Silverstein

For Johnny live on DVD from this era, consider the following.