“Folsom Prison Blues”

Frank Sheen sings ‘smash hits’ Cash style

A record finding excursion in Chester-le-Street last month produced this obscure Johnny Cash tribute album, his well-known numbers re-imagined by Frank Sheen. There’s not a lot of information online about Frank other than the fact that he was a British singer-songwriter. He wrote “Newspaper Man” recorded by John Smith & the New Sound in 1968.

Back cover liners:

It was back in 1955 that a somewhat shy ex-G.I. called John Cash from Dyess, Arkansas, stepped into the Sun record studio in Memphis to cut his first record for Sam Philips. “Hey Porter” and “Cry, Cry, Cry” were cut and released, and the rest is history.

In this tribute by Frank Sheen, many of Cash’s greatest songs are featured with the original treatments, as far as possible. Remember the ‘Tijuana’ sound of “Ring Of Fire”, faithfully reproduced here as the opening track, followed in contrast by the hit from 1959, “Don’t Take Your Guns To Town”, a stark and moving song.

Carl Perkins wrote the gospel-tinged hand-clapping song “Daddy Sang Bass”, which features some fine chorus work behind Frank’s vocals. Finishing off Side One, we have again contrast in time from “Man In Black”, one of Cash’s most recent offerings, to “I Walk The Line”, Cash’s first million-seller with Sun records back in 1956.

It was back in the ’20s that Vernon Dalhart had the first million-seller of “Wreck Of The Old ’97”. Much later, in 1957, Johnny Cash wrote some new words and here Frank Sheen puts the whole lot together, complete with authentic Western train whistle roaring through the instrumental passages.

Ira Hayes puts over a poignant plea for the Indians; “I Got Stripes” is vintage Cash from 1959 and full of guts. ‘Robin Hoods’ of crime have always been with us, and Cash’s tribute to Ned Kelly, the famous Australian bush-ranger, immortalises one of the most notorious.

“Folsom Prison Blues” was the song that took Cash from being a top Country star to international stardom, and the brilliant “Boy Named Sue”, penned by Shel Silverstein, confirmed the status.

Many people have sung Johnny Cash songs, but here is a quite outstanding tribute to the ‘man in black’. Take a listen, and I’m quite sure you won’t be disappointed.

charity shop purchase @ £1

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