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Johnny Cash - Just As I Am (Vanguard Records)

One of my biggest regrets of 1996 was not going to see Johnny Cash play in downtown Minneapolis. The reason I didn't go, by the way, was that the person who offered me the ticket proceeded to tell all of our mutual friends that he and I were dating, even though I was still married at the time. The whole thing just gave me the creeps and I decided to stay home and just watch TV instead. Later, I heard that even though Cash was pretty sick during the show, he did an awesome job and he hasn't toured through my area since.

Anyway, about the album itself. To me, this isn't his best album. It's a compilation of about 20 years' worth of gospel songs on one disc, and while it's okay to listen to, I really prefer the angry, gritty, depressed, ready-to-kill-for-spillin'-his-beer Johnny Cash to the soulful and introspective man singing about family and God that is featured in these tracks. But if you like gospel and you like Johnny Cash, then you'll probably love this.

by Holly Day