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Sings the Ballads of the True West

Sings the Ballads of the True West

Originally released in 1965 as a double album, Ballads weaves Cash's narrations and original compositions with traditional songs and interpretations of other writers' material to draw one man's portrait of the Old West. Cash turns in some of his sturdiest vocals, virtually inhabiting the likes of "I Ride an Old Paint" and Carl Perkins's morbid "Ballad of Boot Hill." And he gets points for not scrubbing up some of the more raggedy old traditional lyrics. But there's often too much extraneous stuff--background singers, strings, sound effects--and while they are clearly to Cash's specifications and executed seamlessly, his own weather-beaten voice alone would usually have been more effective; for all the drama in his vocals, too much of this exasperating set sounds like background music. By the way, this album's mythmaking "Hardin Wouldn't Run" provided the basis for Bob Dylan's mythmaking "John Wesley Harding." The 2002 reissue adds a pair of bonus tracks.
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1. Hiawatha's Vision
2. The Road To Kaintuck
3. The Shifting, Whispering Sands Part I
4. The Ballad Of Boot Hill
5. I Ride An Old Paint
6. Hardin Wouldn't Run
7. Mister Garfield
8. The Streets Of Laredo
9. Johnny Reb
10. A Letter From Home
11. Bury Me Not On The Lone Prairie
12. Mean As Hell
13. Sam Hall
14. 25 Minutes To Go
15. The Blizzard
16. Sweet Betsy From Pike
17. Green Grow The Lilacs
18. Stampede
19. The Shifting, Whispering Sands Part II
20. Reflections
21. Rodeo Hand (Previously Unreleased)
22. Stampede (Alternate Instrumental)