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Format: Audio CD
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The only 2-CD collection to date to span his entire career, 36 tracks from Hey Porter to his collaboration with U2, The Wanderer . And in between? I Walk the Line; Get Rhythm; Ballad of a Teenage Queen; Big River; Ring of Fire; Guess Things Happen That Way; I Still Miss Someone; Don't Take Your Guns to Town; Daddy Sang Bass; A Boy Named Sue; It Ain't Me, Babe and Jackson with June Carter Cash, and more. It's a great and perhaps impossible challenge to encapsulate the highlights of Johnny Cash's vast musical catalog in a two-CD, 36-song collection like this. Yet, though it barely scratches the surface, 2002's The Essential Johnny Cash--part of a series of compilations and reissues celebrating Cash's 70th birthday--does present three-dozen satisfying and balanced snapshots of some of the Man in Black's most memorable work for the Sun, Columbia, and Mercury labels. Above all else, these 36 selections are wonderful reminders of Cash's rustic eclecticism. Cuts range from '50s Sun rockabilly classics like "Hey Porter" and "I Walk the Line" to '60s country-folk gems like "The Ballad of Ira Hayes" and Cash's memorable duet with Bob Dylan on Dylan's "Girl from the North Country." Also included are more recent samplings of Cash's celebrated collaborations, including "Highwayman," which he recorded in 1984 with Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson as part of the on-again, off-again supergroup the Highwaymen, and "The Wanderer," a fervent gospel collaboration with U2 that appeared on the band's 1993 album, Zooropa. --Bob Allen