There are several Cash boxes available, but The Legend
--spanning the years 1955-2002 but concentrating on his long tenure at Columbia and, to a lesser degree, his beginnings at Sun--probably belongs at the top of the list. Cash's greatest strengths are dramatized on these four, thematically programmed discs: Win, Place and Show: The Hits
; Old Favorites and New
; The Great American Songbook
(mostly traditional songs); and Family and Friends
(collaborations). For starters, consider the staggering depth and breadth of his repertoire (perhaps matched only by those of Bob Dylan and Ray Charles), embracing ancient folk tunes ("Streets of Laredo"), teen pop ("Ballad of a Teenage Queen"), mature contemporary rock ("Highway Patrolman"), gospel ("Were You There When They Crucified My Lord"), topical fare ("Ballad of Ira Hayes"), country standards ("Time Changes Everything"), novelties ("One Piece at a Time"), and more. Then there's the way his! spare, spacious sound opens up to take in horns ("Ring of Fire"), strings ("Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down"), anything. The Legend
includes seven previously unissued sides, most prominently "It Takes One to Know Me," a stirring salute to his wife June. --John Morthland
NOTE: This is a deluxe limited edition. In addition to the four discs mentioned above, it also includes a fifth disc, Johnny Cash on the Air, featuring a 1955 recording of Cash's first-ever radio apperance. Also included is a DVD, Johnny Cash: The First 25 Years, which contains the complete 1980 CBS TV special, and a lithograph portrait of Cash by Marc Burkhardt. The entire package is housed in a 12" x 16" hardback.