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The Legend of Johnny Cash

The Legend of Johnny Cash Lowest new price: $4.99
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Brand: UMGD/HIP-O RECORDS

Johnny Cash's death at age 71 on September 12, 2003, nearly four months after the passing of his beloved wife and musical partner June Carter Cash, closed a career spanning nearly an even half a century. It launched a worldwide groundswell of grief and media attention comparable to that for a deceased head of state. Cash was far more than one of country music's greatest stars. While his lonesome baritone defied fad or fashion, his charismatic presence and flinty integrity made him an American cultural icon, a regular presence on TV, radio and in dramatic films, admired by the Greatest Generation through Gen-X and beyond. This Fall, 20th Century Fox will be releasing a film on November 18, 2005 based on the first 30 years of Johnny Cash's life. The film features several of the songs that appear on The Legend Of Johnny Cash including 'Cry! Cry! Cry!', 'Hey Porter', 'Folsom Prison Blues', 'I Walk The Line', 'Get Rhythm', 'Ring Of Fire' and his duet with June Carter 'Jackson'. Hip-O. 2005.

This introduction to the Man in Black's catalog is about as fine a one as can be found on one disc, primarily because the 21 classic tracks span J.R. Cash's entire career, from his first rockabilly single, "Hey, Porter"/"Cry! Cry! Cry!" (Sun Records, 1955), to his last significant alt-country tracks (American Recordings, 2003). Though Cash had his peaks and valleys in the studio, what shines brightly on this collection is how constant--how unwavering--his creativity remained, whether he was writing and performing original material or interpreting the work of others. His voice, too, remained a majestic thing of wonder, even as Cash often sang off-beat; settled his bass-baritone somewhere around, if not on the note; and cared more about power and emotion than strict rules of measure--something that became especially important as illness changed his great oaken voice into a frail instrument. In this way, he was able to infuse novelty songs ("One Piece at a Time," "A Boy Named Sue") with undeniable cool and maintain the poetry of Kris Kristofferson's "Sunday Morning Coming Down" even in the awful advent of a gloppy, too-peppy string section. Other chestnuts here take on new dimension in retrospect. "Jackson," a duet with wife June Carter Cash, seemed almost comedic ("hotter than a pepper sprout") when it was released, but now reveals the couple's own white-hot sexuality, primarily in June's elegant, if straightahead vocal. The surprise of The Legend of Johnny Cash is how seamlessly the newer material blends with the seminal, and how full-circle it sometimes comes: Soundgarden's "Rusty Cage" doesn't seem markedly different from the quietly defiant songs that Cash defined himself with in the '50s and early '60s. Yet the compilation producers, like Cash himself, saved the best for last. "Hurt," Trent Reznor's poignant meditation on addiction, is devastating as written, but becomes a thing of terrible beauty in the ailing Cash's ravaged, autobiographical delivery. Sequenced as the final cut on the album, it ends with a kind of shocking void; stunning in its intensity, dropping the listener off a cliff of something very akin to grief. No artist, no matter what genre, could have planned a more haunting exit. --Alanna Nash

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Chronicle: The 20 Greatest Hits

Chronicle: The 20 Greatest Hits Lowest new price: $2.56
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Brand: CREEDENCE CLEARWATER

One of the most essential collections a rock fan can own their biggest hits on one double-length disc. Proud Mary; Who'll Stop the Rain; Travelin' Band; Fortunate Son; Lodi; Down on the Corner; Susie Q; Bad Moon Risin', and more.

Few bands of the 1960s retained as much a sense of the roots of rock and roll as did Creedence Clearwater Revival. Their music is rife with country, rockabilly, and R&B influences, a combination that produced several hit singles--most of which are present on this collection. These include "I Heard It through the Grapevine," "Lodi," "Up Around the B ," "Who'll Stop the Rain," and of course "Bad Moon Rising." This is an excellent greatest-hits collection, and a perfect introduction to the music of a band that has been enduringly influential. --Genevieve Williams

Features:

  • CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL CHRONICLE: 20 GREATEST HITS

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50s Jukebox Hits

50s Jukebox Hits Lowest new price: $7.42
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3CD W/Paul Anka/Dean Martin/Elvis Presley/Buddy Holly

Features:

  • Record Label: Tip
  • Catalog#: BOX 41192
  • Country Of Release: NLD
  • Year Of Release: 2009
  • Notes: W/Paul Anka/Dean Martin/Elvis Presley/Buddy Holly

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30 #1 Hits

30 #1 Hits Lowest new price: $3.40
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Excellent collection from the King Of Rock 'n' Roll that contains the biggest hits of his career including 'Burning Love', 'Heartbreak Hotel', 'Suspicious Minds', 'All Shook Up', 'Are You Lonesome Tonight?', 'Hound Dog', In The Ghetto', 'Jailhouse Rock' and many others. Also features the hit remix of 'A Little Less Conversation'.

In 1987, RCA released a one-disc Elvis compilation called The Number One Hits that featured 18 tracks. So how did the label come up with 12 additional number ones (13 if you count the sensational "A Little Less Conversation" remix that brings the King into the 21st century as a bona fide dance/electronica star)? Well, the '87 compilation featured only Billboard number ones. "In the Ghetto" and "Burning Love" never reached the top there, nor did "Way Down," despite every copy of that 45 selling out on both sides of the Atlantic following Presley's 1977 death. Instead, the new compilers have used the major pop charts in both the U.S. (including Cashbox) and U.K. to determine inclusions. The tracks have all been remixed from original masters, which proves awesome at best (some of the songs have never sounded crisper if, at times, slightly antiseptic) and problematic at worst. Purists will definitely quibble. "A Fool Such As I," for instance, sounds like Elvis rerecorded his vocals. Hank Garland's great guitar solo also sounds different. It might be an alternate take. That's definitely the case with "The Wonder of You." A few lyrics are even different, meaning this isn't the same version as the original 45. Of course, none of that should matter to the youngsters who've been singing along to "Hound Dog" on the Lilo & Stitch soundtrack, or to any other newcomers. Despite the complaints, this is arguably the best single disc Elvis primer to date. Real fans will want to explore much deeper for treasures to be found, but albums like this guarantee that this is one king who will deservedly live very long, if not forever. --Bill Holdship

Features:

  • PRESLEY ELVIS ELVIS 30 # 1 HITS

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At Folsom Prison

At Folsom Prison Lowest new price: $3.13
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Brand: CASH,JOHNNY

The legendary 1968 live concert, complete and uncensored! Johnny's at his best playing a gritty set of songs to the very appreciative, and very vocal, Folsom Prison inmates.

Johnny Cash had been breaking new ground for a decade when At Folsom Prison suddenly made the world at large take notice. The interaction of a volatile prison population starved for entertainment and a desperately on-form Johnny Cash was electrifying. His somber machismo finally found a home. The songs, which included every prison song Cash knew ("I Got Stripes," "The Wall," "25 Minutes to Go," "Cocaine Blues," plus his own "Folsom Prison Blues") were tailored to galvanize the crowd. This set is all about atmosphere. Live at the Grand Ole Opry this ain't. The 1999 version drops the San Quentin portion of the original CD reissue, instead adding three cuts to complete the full and uncensored Folsom show. --Colin Escott

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The Essential Johnny Cash

The Essential Johnny Cash Lowest new price: $6.09
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The only 2-CD collection to date to span his entire career, 36 tracks from Hey Porter to his collaboration with U2, The Wanderer . And in between? I Walk the Line; Get Rhythm; Ballad of a Teenage Queen; Big River; Ring of Fire; Guess Things Happen That Way; I Still Miss Someone; Don't Take Your Guns to Town; Daddy Sang Bass; A Boy Named Sue; It Ain't Me, Babe and Jackson with June Carter Cash, and more.

It's a great and perhaps impossible challenge to encapsulate the highlights of Johnny Cash's vast musical catalog in a two-CD, 36-song collection like this. Yet, though it barely scratches the surface, 2002's The Essential Johnny Cash--part of a series of compilations and reissues celebrating Cash's 70th birthday--does present three-dozen satisfying and balanced snapshots of some of the Man in Black's most memorable work for the Sun, Columbia, and Mercury labels. Above all else, these 36 selections are wonderful reminders of Cash's rustic eclecticism. Cuts range from '50s Sun rockabilly classics like "Hey Porter" and "I Walk the Line" to '60s country-folk gems like "The Ballad of Ira Hayes" and Cash's memorable duet with Bob Dylan on Dylan's "Girl from the North Country." Also included are more recent samplings of Cash's celebrated collaborations, including "Highwayman," which he recorded in 1984 with Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson as part of the on-again, off-again supergroup the Highwaymen, and "The Wanderer," a fervent gospel collaboration with U2 that appeared on the band's 1993 album, Zooropa. --Bob Allen

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The Best Of Buddy Holly: 20th Century Masters (Millennium Collection)

The Best Of Buddy Holly: 20th Century Masters (Millennium Collection) Lowest new price: $2.06
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Brand: Umgd/Mca

Billy was able to leave behind a legacy of music that still continues to awe and inspire people today including his Decca/MCA recordings found on this 12-track album.

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50's Ultimate Rock & Roll Collection

50's Ultimate Rock & Roll Collection Lowest new price: $11.71
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The Ultimate Rock & Roll Collection: The 50's

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The Everly Brothers - All-Time Greatest Hits

The Everly Brothers - All-Time Greatest Hits Lowest new price: $5.29
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American Graffiti

American Graffiti Lowest new price: $20.42
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Music from the icon! Sing along with some of the best tunes of all time!

For those of us who grew up in the '70s, this drive-in compilation of '50s and '60s rock and doo-wop, complete with Wolfman Jack introductions, was our introduction to this music. There are 41 jukebox hits here, and every one of them is a classic of its time (although two tracks--"At the Hop" and "She's so Fine" are covers by the revival band Flash Cadillac & the Continental Kids). In his 1973 movie, director George Lucas used the music (and the presence of mysterious deejay Wolfman) as the AM-radio soundtrack to one night in suburban California, 1962. The idea was to capture and sustain an end-of-summer, end-of-innocence mood that's in the air throughout the picture-- not as a shortcut to establishing a period (as in Robert Zemeckis'Forrest Gump). There's an awful lot of spontaneous energy in these tunes--from Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly, to the Platters and the Clovers and the Del-Vikings, to the Crests and the Beach Boys--and also just a hint of melancholy that goes down very nicely with a burger, shake, and fries. --Jim Emerson

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