Wednesday, 9 December 2009


Todays CD is yet another Cash CD, this time it is his 1979 album Silver. You may recall the B’s and my frown at the multiple Bragg’s that I was working through. You might expect the same with Johnny after all its been quite a Cash intensive week so far, a week that isn’t coming to an end any time soon.
So this album, Silver, from a period that most listeners aren’t massively familiar with, even though this album contains one of Johnny’s most well known songs in his interpretation of Ghost Riders In The Sky.
Silver is quite notable for being the final album Johnny Cash recorded with bassist Marshall Grant, original member of Cash’s backing band, The Tennessee Two (and later with WS Holland the Tennessee Three). The sound of The Tennessee Three had mellowed over the years and although the boom-chicka sound was still present it was more broader, and none more so on this album.
1979 in country and western music was reaching a bit of a watershed. It was at the end of the peak that the 70’s had ushered in and The Highwaymen had not yet formed, perhaps with this Cash needed to set his own agenda, needed to re-impress himself on his public. Prior to this Cash had released, or at least labels representing Cash had released 2 or 3 compilations, the last album proper, Gone girl had only had 2 Cash compositions on it, Silver needed to make a mark, and if his songwriting juices were not flowing, Johnny had to ensure that what he did work with sounded like his own.
As was the case during this period, Johnny Cash revisited songs from his past, Cocaine Blues had already appeared in a couple of incarnations, on this release it sounds like a rich cousin of White Lightning, Cocaine Blues over the process of this listening exercise is becoming more increasingly a favourite. In the bonus tracks on this CD, Cash is ably assisted on I Got Stripes and I Still Miss Someone by George Jones, Jones’ twang sits at odds with Cash’s growl but oddly they match.
Lonesome to the Bone on this album, initially I thought it was a Kristofferson track, sounding in part like Sunday Morning Coming Down, but the liner notes tell me differently and this is the stand out track for me, its quite a beautiful song. It first appeared on the 74 album (and imminent to me) Ragged Old Flag.
The entire album is a bit of an uncovered classic in its own way, the production is rich but not schmaltzy, its full but still has an intimacy, the Tennessee Three can be heard but are ably assisted.
Cash is serious on this album but still finds time to poke fun at himself on I'll Say It's True.

I've never been in prison
I don't know much about trains
My favorite singer cooks my breakfast
I like her fancy and I like her plain

I love bright and flashing colors
Like hot pink and Dresden blue
But if they ask me if it's true
That I still love you, I'll say it's true

Marvellous. 10 out of 10.

Ghost Riders In The Sky by Johnny Cash

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