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Friday, May 6, 2016

Basic Biittner: The Unbroken Circle

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

From 1969-1971, Country legend Johnny Cash had a weekly ABC - TV show, which accomplished two objectives: 1) Exposing non-country music fans to country music and its artists; and 2) Exposing country fans to current non-country music and artists. Cash did this by booking an eclectic set of guests, all of whom were fans of his music. Cash, by the way, is a member of both the Country and Rock ad Roll Halls of Fame, so who better to merge the two genres?

On the "Best of the Johnny Cash TV Show" DVD from Columbia/Legacy, viewers are treated to musical performances by many of the all-time music greats, including many artists who did not appear very often on television.

Get a load of this lineup: George Jones sings a medley of his hits; Tammy Wynette, sings her classic "Stand By Your Man;" Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys perform their bluegrass standard "Blue Moon of Kentucky;" a beardless Kris Kristofferson sings his "Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I've Ever Done Before);" a beardless Waylon Jennings rocks out on Chuck Berry's "Brown Eyed Handsome Man;" Ray Charles puts his R &B spin on Cash's "Ring of Fire;" Neil Young and his acoustic guitar on "The Needle and the Damage Done;" Bob Dylan sings "I Threw It All Away;" Joni Mitchell duets with Cash on "The Long Black Veil;" Roy Orbison sings his epic, "Crying;" Merle Haggard and Cash sing Hag's "Sing Me Back Home;" and country queen Loretta Lynn sings "I Know How;"

blues rock guitar legend Eric Clapton and Derek and the Dominoes perform "It's Too Late;" and Johnny and his wife,June Carter, do their classic duet "Jackson."

And ... as "Bonus Tracks," check out Stevie Wonder singing "Heaven Help Us All," and the immortal Louis Armstrong, accompanying Cash on trumpet (with an occasional yodel thrown in), as he sings "Blue Yodel No. 9," a song by Jimmie Rodgers, the Father of Country Music. Armstrong, it turns out, had played on Rodgers' original 1930 recording. Also on the bonus tracks is my personal favorite - Eric Clapton and Cash jamming on the rockabilly song "Matchbox" with the song's composer, Carl Perkins.

Cash, of course, is also present throughout the show, singing his biggest hits - including, among others, "A Boy Named Sue" and "Daddy Sang Bass" (with June Carter, the Carter Family and the Statler Brothers). Another bonus - Cash and Carter's son, John Carter Cash, makes some brief comments throughout the show, as do his good pal Kristofferson, Hank Williams Jr., and others.

This single disc is a show for the ages, giving viewers a chance to see many of the all-time greats at their peak. It is an especially memory-evoking disc now, as many of the artists - Wynette, Charles, Orbison, Jennings, Monroe, Carter, Perkins, Armstrong and Cash himself - have since "joined that family circle in the sky."

Included with the DVD is a CD, which contains several of the numbers from the DVD plus some additional performances (including James Taylor, singing "Fire and Rain").

On a scale of 1 to 5 stars, I give this a 7.

Dan Whitney
Basic Biittner