Greatest!

Greatest!The first compilation / greatest hits album Johnny Cash released (or rather, the label released for him) was 1959’s appropriately titled, Greatest! 12 cuts, all from the Sun Records library, Greatest! is a breath of fresh, country air even 56 years after its initial release. I have no idea what LPs sold for back in 1959, but this one set me back only $3 just last weekend. Inflation be damned, am I right? Anyway, Greatest! contains some classic, early Cash greats such as Get Rhythm, Luther’s Boogie, a few Hank Williams numbers (Hey, Good Lookin’, You Win Again), and some lesser known classics to round out a full, pertinent collection of tragic songs. Greatest! may not be Cash’s greatest, but it’s worth seeking out.

Norm-al Life

Cash_10Feeling a bit on the homesick side of things lately, and it doesn’t get more “home-y” than J.R. Cash. This 1968 copy of the 2-LP set, The Heart of Johnny Cash was owned by my Grandfather, and was one of the great, many Cash albums I acquired after his inevitable, yet unfortunate death. What I wouldn’t give to share a whiskey and a spin with him now.

Johnny Cash, the perfect remedy for the homesick blues.

J. R. and Drunken Ira Hayes

V1Listen, for reasons that transcend both you and me, J. R. Cash holds, and will always hold, a deep-rooted seed of importance with me (and my Midwestern upbringing). Bruce McCulloch put it accurately when he said that Greatest Hits albums were for housewives and little girls, BUT, I must state that a little gathering of the goods, if you will, is nothing of an ill-comprised representation of one’s output. Are there better albums of Mr. Cash’s to be had? Shame on you for asking. Does this one hold sentimental value far more than any top 40 single on the bullshit charts? You bet your ass! I’ll be as gone as a wild goose in winter…and I welcome you all to join me.

RIP J. R. Cash.

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and BRINE

PSRT(Thanks to the SO for the title… 😉 ) Happy-ily (for those of you who are Vacant Lot fans) Thanksgiving!! The lady had to work today, so tomorrow we’ll be celebrating the Day of Thanks. Currently listening to Johnny Cash’s Greatest hits Volume 1, and yes, “house wives and little girls” aside, (Bruce McCulloch), I hope ever-body done had them-selves a damn-good day! (23.95 lbs this year, btw…) Label

Hidden Riches

ClippingMany thanks to the previous, and anonymous owner of my copy of the Sun Records released, The Million Dollar Quartet, for mummifying this 1986 magazine article, shining light upon, arguably, the most prolific, and storied combination of talented musicians the modern age has ever witnessed. Celebrated evening reading material, for sure. Perhaps I’ll transcribe it someday… perhaps.

The Fab JC

FabulousFor J. R. Cash’s third studio album, 1958’s The Fabulous Johnny Cash, the legendary man in black, or The Undertaker, as he was jokingly nicknamed, took a staggering leap up the distribution ladder and landed a contract with acclaimed Columbia Records, a label he’d stay with until moving to Mercury Records in 1985. It should be noted that J. R.’s stint with Sun Records, his first label, is the favored batch of rural tunes by yours truly. Be it either the simplistic and underproduced approach, or the documentation of a storied artist making his first marks, I for one just can’t get enough of that radiant, Sun sound.

Mr. Cash released two singles from TFJC. Frankie’s Man, Johnny and Don’t Take Your Guns to Town, the latter proving to be one of his biggest, early successes. It’s painfully obvious to mention that J. R. Cash was as unstoppable as Old 97 for Columbia, churning out hit after record breaking hit, a three decades long merger that proved, what I assume, immensely lucrative for both parties.

Pat_JohnsonThis copy was a thrift store find about a decade back, and was apparently pre-owned by a Pat Johnson from 655 Park Ave in Port Hueneme, CA. I venture to think, since 3/8/62 until the day it was offered to an Oxnard, CA second hand store, that Pat cherished The Fabulous Johnny Cash almost as much as I do.

The Brothers Statler

BrosCountry (music), as a whole, is a disease with which one should attempt to avoid at all costs. This is, by and large, the general rule… obviously. BUT, as with any and every rule, there are exceptions. Cash, Nelson, Haggard, Williams, Robbins, and Statler, to name a small few, are tonight’s exception.

The Brothers Statler ride that fine line between punny and clever, while simultaneously offering glass-cutting vocal precision, and unforgettable, catchy, wholesome melodies. A time machine with one destination (my grandparent’s living room via the WXRO, rural radio at its best), the weighted power behind these ancient voices gives life to a fleeting memory that was all but taken for granted (at the time), and is nourished and cherished throughout these nostalgic, lamenting days.

As much as one would like, the personal past, and the nonchalant sounds within, cannot be forgotten.

Waylon Live

WaylonOk, so I’ll admit, my bashful affection towards classic country is something I’d normally stutter to admit to, but its presence, recently, has weaseled its (normally) unwelcomed way into my carefree, pleasure-driving (to and from work) odyssey.

Waylon, Willie, Johnny, and Hank (and / or Hank III) will always remain as the synonymous black sheep of my collection, and sometimes, and this is usually accompanied by a period of severe exhaustion, the shepherd needs to stray away from the neatly aligned flock to comfortably align himself (or herself) with the fresh smelling nature of tainted familiarity.

Waylon Jennings, one of the Good ol’ Boys, never meant no harm, and like with all goodhearted thieves and murderers, may very will find themselves in a predicament where the law might get ‘em, then again, the law might not get ‘em too.

Blood, Sweat and Tears

BS+TWhenever I’m feeling nostalgic, I tend to turn to the roughneck, blue-collar grit of Johnny Cash. While I’ll prefer Mr. Cash’s work with the Tennessee Two during their Sun Records days, there was something about Blood, Sweat and Tears that stuck out like a rusty spike awaiting its inevitable drive into the cold, hard Earth that grabbed my sleep-clouded eyes this morning. Since it’s Monday morning for all of you hard working pencil pushers, the inevitable start to yet another inevitable workweek, Blood, Sweat and Tears seemed desperately appropriate.

BS+T BackA collection of working man ballads, this, Mr. Cash’s 15th album, was released in 1963 on Columbia Records and features the soulful accompaniment of the Carter Family, the same legendary folk ensemble he’d become a part of some five years later, in March of ’68, when he married June Carter.

So, welcome to the working week, and if you find yourself daydreaming for an era without redundant meetings, corner-cutting executives, or inner-office politics, book some time with the musical spokesperson for the hardworking everyman, Mr. Johnny Cash.

Sunday Down South

SundayCataloged as SUN 119, Sunday Down South is a lot more than just a compilation of songs by the late 1950s masterminds of radio rock, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis. Apart from being a great representation of these legendary artists as they both entered the 1970s (this album was released in 1970), Sunday Down South is good ol’, down south rockin’ gospel done right. Something can be said about each of these man’s darker, more controversial sides coupled with their resurrected approach to religious music, but unfortunately, I have no idea what those words might be.

Down SouthClocking in at just over 22 minutes, Sunday Down South is a painfully brief, yet enjoyable journey into the rock n’ roll souls of these mythical musicians, and is a perfect album to enjoy on this, or any Sunday, regardless of your geographical location.

An Open Letter to Previous Ring of Fire – The Best of Johnny Cash Owner, Dick Suman

JRDear Dick Suman,

This is a bit awkward considering we’ve never met, but I can’t help but feel an eternal connection with you through our shared love for Johnny Cash. Like you, I enjoy his baritone voice, his uncanny ability to create timeless soundscapes, and this, a convenient collection of his greatest hits circa: 1963.

I must say Mr. Suman, your overall care for this copy of Ring of Fire – The Best of Johnny Cash has rendered this record in rather adequate condition. The disc has a few scuffs, but doesn’t skip, and the sleeve is in better than average condition considering she was released 51 years ago. No, overall she was an exciting find at a Wisconsin thrift store some years back, and although I own many of these songs on their respective albums, it’s nice every once in a while to spin a collection of someone else’s favorites.

I do, however, have one quick question for you, Mr. Suman. Respectfully, I can’t help but ask, WHY THE HELL DID YOU WRITE YOUR EGG-SUCKIN’ NAME ON THE MOTHER-LOVIN’ COVER… IN PEN?!?!??!1!? Couldn’t you haves scribbled your deteriorating title on the back, or on the inside label? Why did you feel the need to piss your inscription square on the cover like a yippy dog to a low hanging pant leg? I question your judgment, good sir.

51 years ago, you made a poor decision, one that will forever live as a blatant symbol of your irresponsible and shortsighted character. I hope you feel an eternity of shame, that which you justly deserve.

Sincerely, your pal,

The Prudent Groove

Dick Suman

The Man in Black Sings About Christmases of White

JRJ. R. Cash was seldom shy about his faith. He was brought up on Baptist beliefs, was quoted 17 ways from Sunday commenting on his personal relationship with God, and wife June was inducted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame back in 2009. This 1963 album on Columbia Records stands as a shameless appreciation of this rugged man’s enormous heart, and shows that everyone, from Timbuktu to Kalamazoo, has a little classic country in them. Titled The Christmas Spirit, Mr. Cash masters that warmhearted holiday sentiment perfect for sitting fireside while heavy winds fight trees outside closed windows, and looming clouds sift a heavy helping of blanketed snow.

For me, anytime of year is a great time for Johnny Cash, but for some reason, maybe it’s his deep, fearless tone, the holidays are the best days for enjoying a little Man in Black. Don’t expect Brenda Lee or Chuck Berry on this album, they are more part of the sparkling, bubbling lights on the holiday music tree. Johnny Cash on the other hand, is the one shining star that rests atop this tree, creating that perfect, musical glow of holiday comfort and joy .

Offer Expires December 31, 1970

Johnny Cash Poster OfferSend for the newest Johnny Cash poster! So reads this adsert from the house copy of Hello, I’m Johnny Cash. I mean, come on (read, COME OWN), people! This is a 22” x 33” mother sucking poster that is as big and bold as life! BIG… and BOLDAS LIFE! You’re wasting time! Drop whatever you’re doing right this God-given second! Feeding the baby? Well, maybe don’t drop the baby, but rather, set the baby down on the linoleum next to Thomas the Train and this month’s copy of Bon Appetite magazine, and ORDER! THIS!! MOTHER LOVING POSTER!!!

As an avid Tim Hardin fan, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this collection of field-tending utterances (of creative genius) fashioned a JC version of the song (arguably, Tim Hardin’s most famous), If I Were A Carpenter. Death makes legends of mediocre men. Such is not the case with regards to both Hardin and/or Cash. 1969, the year of this album’s release, I imagine, was a tempting and paranoid time. I never saw 1969… I never breathed the tree-hugging stench of the summer of love, but I am, however ill fashioned, and comfortably basking in this year’s creative brilliance, for lack of a better term.

It’s currently 11:02 in the PM and the whiskey has already dressed itself in the warming linens of my fingers’ skin, so, just about anything read (written) from this point forward need not be taken without a grain (or two) of seasoned salt. Hardin vs. Cash… both are dead, yet, both remain amicably fruitful in the receptive throats of those thirsty for heartfelt tones.

All detours lead to Hardin… – The Prudent Groove

The Personality Sound of the Sixties!

Sound of the SixtiesAccording to Liberty Records Inc. (Los Angeles 28, California), Martin Denny’s Exotic Percussion, Around the World With the Chipmunks, Bud and Travis in Concert, and 60 Years of Music America Hates Best are definitively, the personality sounds of the 1960s.

Forget about The Kinks, 13th Floor Elevators, Tim Hardin, Silver Apples, The Monks, Them, The Zombies, and the man in black… and for that matter, forget about the entire UK Encroachment (that’s what it’s called, right?), because Johnny Burnette, The Fleetwoods, and Bobby Vee are decade-defining personalities that history has proved to be as monumental as the title of this record label.

Liberty Records, like a symbolic statue of freedom, knew personality when they heard it. And thank goodness, because I don’t know what I’d do without ­all the tree-hugging, acid-dropping, tie-dyed skirt wearing, marvelous wonders provided by Bob Wills and Tommy Duncan.

Happy Birthday, America!

Bitter TearsTo remember this country, to embrace and celebrate its many achievements and bountiful wonders… to do so without acknowledging its many, many, many injustices and appalling acts of global greed, is to don the star spangled banner of bullied persuasion, while marching along, sheepish singing, “Oh, say can you see…”

Yes, the fourth of July is a time for remembrance. Remember our brothers, our sisters, our sons, our daughters, and our photographic mothers and fathers. Remember them, honor them, but question why they were made to feel it was necessary to become involved in the first place. Remember the heroes, but never forget the selfish, inhumane avarice of the commanders of social conscious that lie and manipulate, all while sending young men and women to die for their bestial objective: to maintain the power they have, and to see to it, that by offering the lives of American men & women… this nation’s children… that by doing so, their power of manipulated global guidance and merciless sense of false entitlement (not to mention the real God of this country: the Almighty Dollar) will continue to grow, and the spoils of the few will therefore continue to be justified in outweighing the needs, and all too often the lives, of the many.

This fourth day in the seventh month of each year is a celebration of servitude disguised as freedom. A patriot supports, loves, and defends his or her country, not the ideals of those in control to further their selfish ideals. This great country is not ours to enjoy. We stole it via a treaty of deception and spilled blood, then set up our walls and called it home. To forget the Native Americans on this day of global gloating and self-obsessed bravado, to forget whose house we burned to the ground so that we would all be afforded the corporate convenience of a $3.85 cup of Caffe’ Mocha, is to look into the mirror and know, wholeheartedly, that we are killers, liars, thieves, and a fat, selfish nation.

I love this country. Not for what it is, but for what it can become. Give respect where respect is due. Think for yourself.

Happy birthday, America! Go fuck yourself!

Get Rhythm

Get RhythmWhen times are tough and you’d rather stand in the darkness and shout for hours at the starless sky, Get Rhythm.

When your boss’ ego takes priority over what’s best for everyone involved, Get Rhythm.

When you find that honesty takes backseat to the convenience of fearful confrontation, Get Rhythm.

When the squirrels have finally found an effective way to raid the bird feeder, and it’s time to say goodbye to the birds, Get Rhythm.

When social decencies are ignored for selfish, single-minded objectives, Get Rhythm.

When popularity eclipses the right thing to do, Get Rhythm.

When you get the blues, Get Rhythm.

It only costs a dime, just a nickel a shoe

Does a million dollars worth of good for you

– J. R. Cash

Listen To Your World

Listen to Your World(Imagine a 33-year-old American male speaking directly to you, or to a camera, in a calm, soothing tone.)

When you purchase a used album, you really never know what you’re going to get. (Takes a few steps forward and smiles.) Hello, this is X from The Prudent Groove.

Not unlike downloading an album without the proper metadata, and we all know how annoying THAT can be, am I right?! (Takes a beat.) The level of quality attributed to a used record you find at say, a thrift store, is based solely on the mindset, (Beat.) and general care of its previous owner. (Looks down, then back up. Puts hands in pockets.)

Was the previous owner a neat freak who housed each of their cherished albums in overpriced, protective sleeves like we do here at The Groove? (Cocks head as to ponder this question.) Did they use the front jacket as a temporary table for rolling dried relaxation plants? (Beat.) Were they careless and used the back cover as a coaster, leaving a circular ring of ancient coffee above the “we’re trying to look casual” picture of the band? (Lets out a slight chuckle.)

These questions, and any others you may have of a record’s previous owner, will fall upon deaf ears, and the answers will only exist within our own imaginations. (Sits down on a chair. Where did the chair come from?)

Take for example this A&M Records insert I found inside my copy of Johnny Cash & Jerry Lee Lewis’ Sunday Down South album on Sun Records. (Holds up record, not pictured here.) The previous owner either didn’t care, or didn’t notice that the insert didn’t match the album. Not a very big deal as the record is in pristine shape. (Chuckles.) The previous owner probably didn’t enjoy the music and never played it, and THAT’S why it’s in such good shape. (Stands back up and begins walking.)

A&M Records Sleeve“Listen To Your World” is a clear-headed marketing slogan from A&M Records that suggests “your world” (Does quotes with his fingers… incorrectly.) can only be found on A&M Records. Clever girl. (Says in terrible British accent.) The flipside to this slogan showcases some pretty heavy-hitters from the A&M catalogue. (Looks down at insert as if to read.) Cat Stevens, Herb Alpert, Humble Pie, Quincy Jones and Burt Bacharach to name a few. With no date affixed to this insert, the words, “Listen To Your World” seem to become as timeless as some of the classic releases found on A&M Records. Coupled with the bold, white text on a basic, black background, this modern day musical proverb is a strong, and I hope profitable, marketing campaign for A&M Records, one that I’m happy I stumbled upon in an almost unorthodox manner.

Take a little mental trip on your next hunt through your local second hand store, and give a distinctive personality to that record you can’t live without. (Puts hands in pockets and smiles.) The album, like the music, exists as an entity in and of itself. Give it a history, and your collection will come to life in ways you never imagined.

This has been X from The Prudent Groove. (Smiles and puts hands on hips.) I’ll see you here tomorrow. Have a great afternoon. (Walks away in an awkward, no idea where he is stroll.)

Free Fact-Packed Book

Cert BackMarketing records can be an embarrassingly hilarious industry. From the album cover, to a free book on The Wonderful World of Country Music used as incentive for consumers to purchase and collect 5 insert certificates, it seems as though Time Life Records in 1981 would go to great lengths to confirm the sales of their Country Music series. Such a clever title for a series, don’t you think?

Let’s take a look at the top selling points for The Wonderful World of Country Music, shall we? I mean, if I’m going to hunt down four more albums in the Country Music series in order to get this “free” book, I’m going to want to know what I’m in for, right?

Cert FrontFirst off, it’s a “big” book. This certificate was nice enough to offer the book’s dimensions (8-1/4” x 10-3/4”). Second, it contains 240 pages and the biographies of more than 150 stars! ARE there 150 stars in country music? And I’m talking about the GOOD country music here. Maybe that “150 stars” thing was a typo and they meant the “15 stars.” That makes more sense. Third, this book contains the history of the Grand Ole Opry. Alright… any country music lover worth their weight in Hee Haw one-liners NEEDS the history of the Grand Ole Opry. Forth, you get an intimate glimpse into the astrological future of your favorite 15 stars by the horoscopes offered in this monumental book, and finally, “bluegrass, outlaw, oldtime.” I’ve got to admit, I have no idea what the hell that means. Perhaps the book touches on these off-shoots of Country music? Yeah, no idea.

I’ve got to say, I’m not entirely sold on this ploy, but a quick ebay search yields five The Wonderful World of Country Music auctions currently underway. So, at one time, somebody found these selling points irresistible… but the novelty must have worn off because now the book can be had for only $4.74. Tempting…

Barbi Mandrell