He’s been everywhere man, he’s been everywhere.
But now Johnny Cash is going somewhere he’s never been before: into Complete Albums territory. Though the Man in Black has been anthologized numerous times in the past (including on an indispensable set of Bear Family releases) nothing has approached the sheer magnitude of this new box set. The Complete Columbia Album Collection is a massive 63-CD, 59-album treasure trove collecting every one of Cash’s albums for the venerable label, released between 1958 and 1990. It’s coming from Columbia and Legacy Recordings on October 30, and will likely warrant a place in the collection of any serious popular music fan.
The many sides of the multi-faceted artist get full recognition here: concept albums, soundtrack contributions, gospel recordings, holiday albums, guest appearances and more. Collaborative albums featuring The Carter Family, June Carter Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins, Waylon Jennings, and The Highwaymen (Cash, Jennings, Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson) all are included. Each album is presented as a mini-LP CD with its original artwork, including the five deluxe gatefold albums released during Cash’s long Columbia tenure. Cash departed Columbia for Mercury in 1987 with Johnny Cash is Coming to Town, but his place as a legendary fixture on the Columbia label has continued mightily in the CD reissue era.
Johnny Cash: The Complete Columbia Album Collection, by the numbers:
- 59 original albums from Columbia debut The Fabulous Johnny Cash (1958) to supergroup sequel Highwayman 2 (1990), plus Live at Madison Square Garden, recorded in 1968 and released in 2002;
- 35 album titles never before released on CD in the U.S. by Columbia/Legacy;
- Cash’s first 19 Columbia albums, from The Fabulous Johnny Cash (1958) to From Sea to Shining Sea (1967) in original mono mixes, for the first time ever from Legacy in the U.S.;
- 8 live albums, including 3 internationally-released titles: Johnny Cash pa Osteraker (rec. 1972, rel. 1973), Strawberry Cake (rec. 1975, rel. 1976) and Koncert V Praze (rec. 1978, rel. 1983);
- 2 soundtrack albums, both from 1970: I Walk the Line and Little Fauss and Big Halsy; and
- 2 new compilations exclusive to this set: Johnny Cash With His Hot & Blue Guitar is a 28-song sampler of single and non-single tracks released at Sun Records (1954-58), including career-defining tracks like of “Folsom Prison Blues,” “I Walk The Line,” Hey Porter” and “Ballad of a Teenage Queen.” It’s designed as an expanded edition of his 1957 Sun LP, with that album’s famous cover design. The Singles Plus is a 2-CD set with 55 tracks (1958-1985) encompassing both singles that did not originally appear on Cash’s Columbia LPs, and a selection of guest spots on others’ albums. In the latter category, you’ll find Cash supporting the illustrious likes of Bob Dylan, The Carter Family, Mother Maybelle Carter, June Carter Cash, The Earl Scruggs Revue, Marty Robbins, Willie Nelson, and Shel Silverstein.
After the jump: the complete listing of albums, a pre-order link and more!
The Complete Columbia Album Collection is accompanied by a full-color booklet containing discographical annotation for each title including chart positions, plus new liner notes from Cash historian Rich Kienzle. It’s all housed in a boldly-designed box that resembles the lift-off lid style of the similarly-impressive Complete Miles Davis Columbia Album Collection box set from 2009. The new box set is the result of the herculean efforts of producers Gregg Geller and Steve Berkowitz, both of whom are veterans in spearheading Legacy’s long-running Cash reissue program. We'll have more news of the exact track listing of the box set (i.e. the contents of its exclusive compilations and whether any bonus tracks have been held over from Legacy's previously-issued expanded editions of some titles) as soon as that information can be confirmed.
This set is the latest release in an important celebration of what would have been Johnny Cash’s 80th birthday year. This year’s offerings from Legacy have included the fourth volume of The Bootleg Series entitled The Soul of Truth (our review here), as well as four new compilations under the appropriately-named banner The Greatest (Country Classics, Gospel Songs, Duets, and The Number Ones) and an all-star DVD/BD tribute, I Walk the Line (our reviews here).
Johnny Cash’s The Complete Columbia Album Collection arrives from fine retailers everywhere on October 30. You can pre-order at the link below!
Johnny Cash, The Complete Columbia Album Collection (Columbia/Legacy 88697 91047 2, 2012)
Titles followed by original Columbia catalogue number and release date.
- The Fabulous Johnny Cash (CL 1253, 1958)
- Hymns By Johnny Cash (CL 1284, 1959)
- Songs Of Our Soil (CL 1339, 1959)
- Now There Was A Song! (CL 1463, 1960)
- Ride This Train (CL 1464, 1960)
- Hymns From The Heart (CL 1722, 1962)
- The Sound Of Johnny Cash (CL 1802, 1962)
- Blood, Sweat And Tears (CL 1930, 1962)
- Ring Of Fire: The Best Of Johnny Cash (CL 2053, 1963)
- The Christmas Spirit (CL 2117, 1963)
- Keep On The Sunny Side - The Carter Family with special guest Johnny Cash (CL 2152, 1963)
- I Walk The Line (CL 2190, 1964)
- Bitter Tears: Johnny Cash Sings Ballads of the American Indian (CL 2248, 1964)
- Orange Blossom Special (CL 2309, 1965)
- Johnny Cash Sings Ballads of the True West (C2L38, 1965)
- Everybody Loves a Nut (CL 2492, 1966)
- Happiness Is You (CL 2537, 1966)
- Carryin’ On With Johnny Cash & June Carter (CL 2728, 1967)
- From Sea To Shining Sea (CL 2647, 1967)
- Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison (Live) (CS 9639, 1968)
- The Holy Land (KCS 9726, 1968)
- Johnny Cash At San Quentin (Live) (CS 9827, 1969)
- Hello, I’m Johnny Cash (KCS 9943, 1970)
- The Johnny Cash Show (Live) ( KC 30100, 1970)
- I Walk The Line: Original Soundtrack (S 30397, 1970)
- Little Fauss and Big Halsy: Original Soundtrack (S 30385, 1970)
- Man In Black (C 30550, 1970)
- A Thing Called Love (KC 31332, 1972)
- America – A 200-Year Salute in Story and Song (KC 31645, 1972)
- Christmas – The Johnny Cash Family (KC 31754, 1972)
- Any Old Wind That Blows (KC 32091, 1973)
- The Gospel Road (2 CDs) (KG 32253, 1973)
- Johnny Cash And His Woman (C 32443, 1973)
- Johnny Cash pa Osteraker (CBS 65308, 1973)
- Ragged Old Flag (KC 32917, 1974)
- The Junkie And The Juicehead Minus Me (KC 33086, 1974)
- The Johnny Cash Children’s Album (C 32898, 1975)
- Johnny Cash Sings Precious Memories (C 33087, 1975)
- John R. Cash (KC 33370, 1975)
- Look At Them Beans (KC 33814, 1975)
- Strawberry Cake (Live at the Palladium, London, England) (KC 34088, 1976)
- One Piece at a Time (KC 34193, 1976)
- The Last Gunfighter Ballad (KC 34314, 1977)
- The Rambler (KC 34833, 1977)
- I Would Like To See You Again (KC 35313, 1978)
- Gone Girl (PC 35646, 1978)
- Silver (JC 36086, 1979)
- Rockabilly Blues (JC 36779, 1980)
- Classic Christmas (JC 36866, 1980)
- The Baron (FC 37179, 1981)
- The Survivors: Johnny Cash - Jerry Lee Lewis – Carl Perkins (FC 37961, 1982)
- The Adventures Of Johnny Cash (FC 38094, 1982)
- Johnny 99 (FC 38696, 1983)
- Koncert V Praze (In Prague Live) (Supraphon 1113-3278, 1983)
- Rainbow (FC 39951, 1985)
- Highwayman (FC 40056, 1985)
- Heroes (with Waylon Jennings) (FC 40347, 1986)
- Highwayman 2 (CK 45240, 1990)
- At Madison Square Garden (Live) (CK 86808, 2002)
- Johnny Cash With His Hot & Blue Guitar (2012)
- The Singles, Plus (2 CDs) (2012)
Albums # 1-19 are original mono LP mixes
Albums # 15, 23, 29, 30, 32 and 61 feature gatefold sleeves
Why not mono AND stereo on the first 19 (wherever stereo exists)???
Jason Michael says
I thought the same thing. It would've been very nice to have both versions. But it won't stop me from getting this set.
Simon Franklin says
A really lovely set. Let's just hope that Columbia don't go and balls it up as they did with the Miles Davis collection with poorly constructed sleeves and blobs of glue all over the discs...
Exactly. And the picture currently shown on Amazon is of a box with a flip-top lid—one of the other major problems with the original Miles issue (until they repackaged it with a lift-off lid to replace all the damaged gluey copies). I'm ordering this, but it does make me nervous. I'm sure the sleeves won't be any better than the Miles issues; everyone wants to sell "mini LPs" these days without knowing what that really means.
Jason Michael says
Why are you guys complaining about the Miles box? Sony immediately corrected the issues with a new edition shipped free of charge to those who had already purchased the box. I have two copies of a great box! How can I be upset over that? The only people who should be upset are those at Sony, who had to produce the same product twice. I am sure after that public relations fiasco and expense they will be sure to assemble this box correctly.
$270 on amazon,com for 63 CDs. That's around $4 a CD! I think it's an incredible value. I will buy it for sure!!!
I am guessing that this set will not include ANY of the extra bonus material that has been issued on various Columbia "CD remasters" through the years, or all of the Columbia material that has been included on Bear Family box sets.
Can any discography experts determine
1. What percentage of this box is NOT on any of the Bear Family boxsets?
2. What Columbia material that has been issued on CD or LP/45 Vinyl is NOT included on this boxset?
The experience with the Tony Bennett set suggests that there may be many deleted tracks.
This does not appear to be a limited edition, so it may be discounted. Is that right?
I don't know, Kevin; the Miles Davis Complete Columbia box DOES have all the bonus tracks from Columbia CD remasters. I'm gonna wager these will, too.
Basically, the four Bear Family boxes cover albums 1-19, 23, 29, 44, 60, and some of 61. But albums 1-19 are stereo on Bear Family and mono on the new set, so there's less duplication than you might think.
Good. Mono is often much better as it provides more emphasis to the vocals, which is really the most essential thing for Cash.
About the Miles set, I do not believe that it contained the session material from the various Columbia box sets. I never bought it because I had the Miles material 4-5 times over.
I doubt we will ever get session material from Cash, but I still do not expect the live albums in the Cash box to have the bonus material now on the expanded CD issues. Just the original material.
Now we need a Cash boxset from the Mercury years, with extra material.
The Miles box contained the same bonus as tracks as the remastered standlone album issues. No, it did not contain all of the sessions from the "metal spines" series.
It's already lacking one Columbia Cash album, the 1961 LP The Lure of the Grand Canyon (a collaboration with André Kostelanetz).
...which could be a rights issue, as the album contained Kostelanetz music with Cash narration.
Tht is an important deletion.
Jason Michael says
I was unfamiliar with the Grand Canyon album, but after looking it up on-line it appears to have been a Kostelanetz release with Cash only appearing on the final track. Perhaps that one song will appear on the Singles + 2 CD set?
Jason Michael, relax about the Miles box. Jesus, do you work for Sony? My point is that the flip-top box led to problems and if Sony plans to use the format again they need to be cautious as it can lead to problems for the Cash set as well.
Jason Michael says
I wish I worked for Sony! Maybe I could save some money on all the stuff I buy from them! Surely they must have some employee discount?!? 🙂
Working for SONY would not be a great career. You could count on getting laid off.
Where I live, there was once an RCA Records manufacturing plant, from the 1930's through the early 1970's. Everyone who worked there had to exit the plant by walking through the "company store", full of displays and advertising of RCA releases. They were enticed to buy RCA products every day before they could leave work. They got a discount, but not very much. The mono albums that were sold in Montgomery Wards for $2.69 were $2.29 (OK, a standard 1/6th off, not even 20%)...but they bought alot of junk because they were paid in cash and thought that they could get a little action on the couch with just the right easy listening on the HiFi.
Some of you may notice that Amazon raised its pre-release price from about $270 to $310.
But don't fret. A friend of mine who is a dealer said that this box has been offered to dealers at about $135. That suggests that there will be some real discounts. Blowitoutahere and others may offer this set for something in the $200 range. Keep your eyes open and do not jump on amazon price.
I wish I could say that I do business with my friend, but I don't want to spoil a friendship by asking for discounts.
Amazon keeps lowering, but cannot beat the below price at blowitoutahere
As of now, I believe Blowitoutahere has the best price on this set, at $231. I was hoping for better. As this is not an exclusive edition (like the similar Tony Bennett box), it is very possible that even better pricing could appear after the release date. But often, blowitoutahere has the best prices: see the link:
Currently, the best price is at importcds.com at $191.
As of this past week, importcds.com , on their own website, not amazon marketplace, had it for $184