CD Reviews for 11/14/07 – Johnny Cash Show, Merle Haggard

Compact Capsules for 11/14/07
by Dan Ferguson

Johnny Cash
The Best of the Johnny Cash TV Show
Columbia Music Video 88697-04026

One word describes the 66 clips comprising this DVD of performances culled from Johnny Cash’s short-lived, circa 1969-71 variety show. Essential. Considering Cash’s own market, old guard types like Jones, Jennings, Wynette and Robbins are a given and their performances priceless. Where Cash truly walked the line was the atypical talents he featured mixing counterculture types (Dylan, Kristofferson, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell), new talents (James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Derek & the Dominos) and icons (Louis Armstrong, Mother Maybelle Carter). The footage is immaculate, the between-songs commentary from Kristofferson and Cash’s son John Carter Cash point-on, and the sum total of this multi-disc set simply staggering. (Visit

Merle Haggard
The Bluegrass Sessions
McCoury Music MCM0008

At 70, Country Music Hall of Famer Merle Haggard still has some pretty good curves, in his voice, that is. Like most of Hag’s caliber, there’s not much he can’t handle. Take The Bluegrass Sessions on which he deftly demonstrates he’s at home with the music Monroe created as he is honky tonk, Western swing, and Dixieland jazz. Given his stature, the quality cast accompanying him – Marty Stuart, Rob Ickes, Carl Jackson, Alison Krauss – isn’t surprising and it helps place this low key affair right there with the finest bluegrass albums of 2007. (Visit

(Dan Ferguson is a free-lance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 – 9 pm on WRIU-FM 90.3. He lives in Peace Dale and can be reached at [email protected].)