HYMNS BY JOHNNY CASH (HALLMARK SHM 739) NOVEMBER 1971

“The Old Account”

Johnny Cash with his Bible and Guitar in hand

A few years ago I wouldn’t have even given Johnny Cash records a second glance but here I am not only playing one of his ancient records from 1959 but I’m actually diggin’ it. Not the subject and sentiment of his songs I may add, but the fact that it’s just him singing with limited backing. An almost ‘unplugged’ session. His vocals carry them through to the other side.

As the title of the album suggests, all of the material on this LP is of a religious nature, mostly written by Johnny himself. “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” is the only number I’ve heard before mainly because it’s usually sung loudly at England’s rugby union matches.

Back cover liners:

Hymns and country and western singing might seem at first glance to be a long way apart, but in fact, once you get down to analysing both they become pretty nigh inseparable, especially when the name of Johnny cash is associated with them both.

On this album great hymns and great singing come together because Cash not only sings them in his own inimitable style, but also because he’s had a hand in composing many of the titles. Cash is someone who knows what life is all about, and he’s lived it on many levels and in many strained circumstances.

He’s experienced the lonely sound that the clanging of a cell door behind you makes and, because of his deep and abiding love of helping those in trouble, he’s returned to the stoney confines of prison to entertain the inmates with those songs that mean much to prisoners wherever they may be.

But this album isn’t concerned with confinement; it’s more concerned with great hymns that also need great singing to bring out the richness of their message, the messages that come across strong on “I Saw A Man”, “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”, “I Call Him” and many others that make up this collection.

To sing them in a way that appeals to everyone, we present Johnny Cash, a man who really can bring a religious message and some fine singing to a truly great programme of hymns.

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