Review: Johnny Cash – Bootleg Vol. IV: The Soul of Truth” (Columbia/Legacy, 2012)
Johnny Cash – Bootleg Vol. IV: The Soul of Truth (Columbia/Legacy, 2012)
This is the fourth volume in a series of official bootleg releases that document lesser-known material and previously unreleased recordings from the House of Cash studio in Hendersonville, TN. The 51-tracks focus on Cash’s songs of faith from the 1970s and 80s, and collect the rare 1979 double-LP A Believer Sings the Truth, the withdrawn 1983 album Johnny Cash–Gospel Singer, and an unnamed, previously unreleased gospel album. Additional tracks are culled from 1984’s I Believe and, most important to collectors, is the inclusion of five previously unreleased session outtakes (disc 1, track 25 and disc 2 tracks 23-26). Cash is joined variously by his wife June, sisters-in-law Anita and Helen, daughters Rosanne and Cindy, and son-in-law Rodney Crowell, and the sessions are typically light and upbeat as Cash works through traditional hymns, folk songs and a few contemporary tunes, such as a Dixieland-tinged arrangement of Billy Joe Shaver’s “I’m an Old Chunk of Coal.” Cash sounds at peace with his life in these sessions – a saved man, rather than a sinner wrestling with dark temptations – and the mood is reflected in a clean production sound. If you’re looking for a tormented soul wrestling with his demons, check the back catalog, but if you want to hear a saved man proclaiming the fruits of his faith, this is a fine collection of testimony.