I have a love/hate relationship with the hipster culture. I really hate those beards, gluten-free everything, $9 IPAs, and how they try so hard to hate anything that is popular. However, I love their music and I just can’t fault them for making Johnny Cash some sort of demigod. Every hipster thinks Johnny Cash is the greatest country musician who ever lived and, honestly, they are right.
There are live albums that are must-haves for music fans. Frampton Comes Alive, KISS Alive!, The Allman Brothers Band At Fillmore East are all on that list and you could add more than one Johnny Cash record; his live records are legendary. Along with At Folsom Prison and At San Quentin you can add Live From Austin TX.
On the surface, this record is an excellent example of Johnny Cash’s country music prowess. It starts off as a hit fest. It is song after song of Johnny Cash gold. This record is from a 1987 recording of Austin City Limits and the Man in Black is in great form as he works through some of the biggest songs of his career up until this point. He is on fire and his voice is perfect.
The music world did not love Johnny Cash in 1987; he was not the beloved legend that could do no wrong like how he is remembered today. At the time of this recording, Johnny Cash’s huge resurgence is still a few years down the road. But, the crowd in Austin did not care what the music world thought of Johnny Cash that day; they are way into it. The crowd adds an energy that Mr. Cash feeds off of and the crowd helps to round out this album.
The second half of this record is filled with lesser-known songs that deserve some credit. Johnny Cash is one of the greatest story song singers this world has ever known. His beautiful baritone is pure and simple and makes me feel like I could listen to him read the phone book and enjoy it.
This album is a look at a legend, during a slump in his career, treating every opportunity to play with the utmost respect. It is a painting of how large his presence was in a room.
My favorite track: Let Him Roll