ARTIST: Johnny Cash
TITLE: Sings the Songs That Made Him Famous
YEAR RELEASED: 1958
CHART ACTION: None (Sun had album distribution issues, I think.)
SINGLES: I Walk the Line (#17, #1 Country), There You Go (#1 Country), Next In Line (#99, #9 Country), Home of the Blues (#88, #3 Country), Ballad of a Teenage Queen (#14, #1 Country), Guess Things Happen That Way (#11, #1 Country), The Ways of a Woman in Love (#24, #2 Country)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Big River
LINEUP: Johnny Cash, Luther Perkins, Marshall Grant.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Last original Sun album is compiled from the various singles sessions Cash recorded for Sam Phillips. Yet it repeats a track from the first album and still skips “Hey Porter”.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Johnny Cash was on the move to Columbia records, since Sam Phillips was betting his money on Jerry Lee Lewis and paying Cash a substandard royalty rate. But he left behind a whole bunch of songs that Phillips could use as he saw fit, and this was the second album he cobbled together.
It’s better sequenced than the first one, and has a great number of Cash’s best early songs. Phillips used “I Walk the Line” again, which means some Cash fans may have had that song on three recordings if they bought both albums and the single. Yet songs like “Big River” and “Ballad of a Teenage Queen” showed that Cash was a force to be reckoned with, as he had nuance and sympathy in his voice that many other rockabilly artists didn’t.
The Tennessee Two again provide a simple yet effective background. Cash would move to more straight country music over time, but with these songs he shows that he, along with Presley, was a great bridge between country and rock,
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Another reason Cash left Sun was that Phillips didn’t want him to record gospel tracks. In 1959 he recorded his first one for Columbia.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a few alternate takes
GRADE: A-: I have to downgrade it for a repeat track, but this is a great album of Sun favorites.