Johnny Cash
The Sun Sessionography
1954-1964

Generated on Mon, August 15, 2016



Date: Early 1954
Location: Unknown, Unknown
Label: Private Acetate

a. Acetate MESSAGE TO VIVIAN LIBERTO - 1:22(J.R. Cash)
b. Acetate DARLIN', AM I THE ONE? - 1:22(Carl Smith)
Both titles unissued.

This recording, noted as being from a private acetate, has been passed around the internet for a number of years.

The assumption is that this acetate was recorded in the early months of 1954 -- or at least prior to July 3, 1954 when Johnny Cash was honorably discharged from the United States Air Force. I have yet to find any specific data that truly dates the recording and an image of the label on the acetate (if any) doesn't seem to circulate on the internet.

This is technically not a Sun Recording, but I am including it in this sessionography for it's novelty and for the inclusion of a short version, as performed by Johnny, of "Darlin' Am I The One" written by Carl Smith.

The August 22, 1953 edition of "The Billboard" magazine lists the Carl Smith recording of "Darlin', Am I the One" (which was the b-side of "Hey Joe!") as one of its best selling folk records of the week. Therefore, its safe to assume that the acetate was recorded between September 1953 and June 1954.

As it has been mentioned on various web sites, this acetate appears to be the earliest known recording of Johnny Cash in circulation.

The acetate can be heard in full on YouTube here: https: //www.youtube.com/watch?v+9kbpyYuF2Zs


Date: Late 1954
Location: Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN

a. WIDE OPEN ROAD - 1:47(J.R. Cash)
Charly LP 12"SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years   (1984)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958   (1990)
Charly CDCDSUNBOX 5 — The Sun Years    (1995)
b. fs YOU'RE MY BABY - 1:28(J.R. Cash)
Charly LP 12"SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years   (1984)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958   (1990)
Charly CDCDSUNBOX 5 — The Sun Years    (1995)
c. Take 1fs MY TREASURE - 2:15(J.R. Cash)
Charly LP 12"SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years   (1984)
ARC Records CDTOP CD 521 — Home of the Blues   (1987)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958   (1990)
d. Take 2 MY TREASURE(J.R. Cash)
unissued
e. SHOW ME THE GREEN
unissued

Wide Open Road

a. Wide Open Road: It all starts here. Just Johnny on acoustic guitar and vocal.

I'd recommend this early recording on the Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014) and Columbia Legacy CD: 88697 60051 2 — From Memphis to Hollywood: Bootleg II (2011).

For those that collect all things Sun related -- and I mean every second -- you'll also need to pick up a copy of one of the following sources:

Charly LP 12": SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years (1984)
Charly CD: CDSUNBOX 5 — The Sun Years (1995)
Charly CD: SNAJ 741 CDX — The Complete Sun Masters (2008)

There are approximately :02 seconds, prior to the complete take, in which you can hear what sounds like the hum of a guitar string and the clicking of a switch of something in the studio.

If forced to choose, I'd grab these :02 from the 1995 CD box set of "The Sun Years".


You're My Baby

b. You're My Baby: Again just Johnny Cash on acoustic guitar and vocal.

The following sources include a false start (:17) prior to the complete take:

Bear Family Records CD: BCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958 (1990)
Disky CD: HR 902140 — This Is Gold (2004)
Time/Life CD: 20803-P — The Complete Recordings 1955-1958 (2005)
Comet Records CD: UV 165 — Open Road (2006)
Bear Family Records CD: BCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes (2007)
Big3 CD: BT3003 — The Music That Inspired "Walk The Line" (2008)

The following sources have a truncated false start (:10) prior to the complete take:

Charly LP 12": SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years (1984)
Charly CD: CDSUNBOX 5 — The Sun Years (1995)
Charly CD: SNAJ 741 CDX — The Complete Sun Masters (2008)
Music Club Deluxe CD: MCDLX128 — Rock and Roll Roots (2010)

Be sure to pick up one source for the false start, but this sounds best on Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014) and Time/Life CD: 20803-P — The Complete Recordings 1955-1958 (2005).

Avoid the version on the Music Brokers CD: MBB7091 — The Greatest Songs (2011). For whatever reason, the beginning of the track is faded up over Johnny's opening vocal.

This track was overdubbed at an unknown date (see UNKNOWN DATE #1 session for additional details and sources).


My Treasure

c. My Treasure (Take 1): There is a second voice, possibly Marshall Grant, doing a short vocal harmony on this track.

The following sources include a false start (:12) prior to the complete take:

Charly LP 12": SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years (1984)
Bear Family Records CD: BCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958 (1990)
Charly CD: CDSUNBOX 5 — The Sun Years (1995)
Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 214 2 — Roads Less Travelled (2001)
Time/Life CD: 20803-P — The Complete Recordings 1955-1958 (2005)
Comet Records CD: UV 165 — Open Road (2006)
Bear Family Records CD: BCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes (2007)
Charly CD: SNAJ 741 CDX — The Complete Sun Masters (2008)
Music Club Deluxe CD: MCDLX128 — Rock and Roll Roots (2010)

d. My Treasure (Take 2): Most discographies of Johnny Cash's Sun Sessions do not list an unissued, undubbed take 2 of My Treasure. In listening to the overdubbed version (see Unknown Date #2 session), it's apparent that the demo recording used for that overdub session does not match My Treasure take 1. The overdubbed recording has definitely been slowed down, but the opening guitar strum does not match the false start from take 1 or the guitar strum of the proper track labeled as take 1. The ending of the overdubbed version also does match any musical section of take 1. So it's my assumption, and I'm not basing this on any prior source, that another acoustic demo recording was likely made during this session (or at some other session) and it was this missing recording that was used for the reverb laden, overdubbed recording (U 446/7-26). Hey, if the tape reel for Show Me The Green is ever found perhaps we'll find take 2 of My Treasure as well!


Show Me The Green

e. Show Me The Green was mentioned in the liner notes of The Man In Black (BCD 15517). Apparently this title was written on an empty tape box found in the original Sun inventory but the tape itself has not been found.

I'm not sure if it's related, but the 2006 CD release Personal File includes a song entitled "The Engineer's Dying Child" which includes the following lyrics:

Just hang a light when I pass tonight
Hang it where it can be seen
If the baby's dead then show the red
If he's better then show the green

The Engineer's Dying Child was written by Vernon Dalhart and was first recorded on January 15, 1926 with Al Craver being the primary performer on that initial recording.

Johnny's version from the Personal File release was recorded on July 18, 1973 at the House of Cash Studios in Hendersonville, TN. I'm sure it's coincidence that these lyrics somewhat match the title of this 'missing' Sun song, but if you read the full lyrics to "The Engineer's Dying Child" it's not out of the question that someone, in 1954 or later, could have played back the tape and, not being familiar with the song, simply wrote "Show the Green" on the tape box as a means of identifying the song in the future.

This seems even more plausible since the title of the song cannot be found in the lyrics and "show me the green" are the last words of what would pass as the chorus of the song.

It's an interesting mystery for sure and the more I dig into it, the more I'm convinced that Johnny Cash likely recorded "The Engineer's Dying Child" at this early demo session (the tape of which is likely collecting dust in someone's attic at this very moment!).


Date: Unknown Date #1
Location: Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN
Label: Sun
Overdub Session

a. Overdubbed YOU'RE MY BABY - 1:29(J.R. Cash)
  Sun LP 12"Sun 122 — Rough Cut King of Country Music   (1970)
Sun LP 12"SQBO-93213 — The Greatness of Johnny Cash   (1971)
Sun LP 12"6641008 — The Man, The World, His Music   (1971)

This overdub session could have been held as late as 1970. Billy Lee Riley possibly played on the electric bass since Marshall Grant did not use that specific instrument at this early date.

The version on 'Charly CD: SNAJ 741 CDX — The Complete Sun Masters (2008)' is sourced from vinyl and offers the poorest sound quality of all the sources.

The remaining sources are all relatively comparable. I would suggest seeking this one out from either the Reader's Digest 'Complete Early Hits Collection (SSTC05536)' or the Collectables 'The Singing Storyteller & The Rough Cut King of Country Music (COL 6431)' CD.


Date: Unknown Date #2
Location: Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN
Label: Sun
Overdub Session

a. U 446/7-26 - Take 2 MY TREASURE - 1:15(J.R. Cash)
  Sun LP 12"SLP 1255 — Now Here's Johnny Cash   (1961)
Sun LP 12"DT 90678 (Canadian Capitol Recd Club Edition) — Now Here's Johnny Cash   (1961)
Sun LP 12"Sun 122 — Rough Cut King of Country Music   (1970)

My Treasure take 2 was overdubbed with added reverb before release. The undubbed take used for this session has yet to be released (if it exists at all).

The following sources run slightly slower when compared to other sources: Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 056 2 — The Complete Original Sun Singles (1999) and Chicago Music Company CD: CMR-94-108 — Lonesome Me (1994).

The following sources have the first guitar note clipped at the beginning of the track: Record Sales CD: No Cat # — Johnny Collection Volumes 1 – 4 (2003) and Collectables CD: COL 6431 — The Singing Storyteller & The Rough Cut King of Country Music (1999).

I would recommend almost all of the other sources for this track. If you stick with Now Here's Johnny Cash (HD Tracks 2010), Johnny Cash at Sun (Columbia/Legacy 2014), The Man in Black 1954-1958 (Bear Family 1990), or His Sun Years (Charly 2001) you'll have a quality copy of this song.


Date: Probably Late 1954/Early 1955
Location: Unknown Location
Label: Sun

a. Demo I WALK THE LINE - 3:03(J.R. Cash)
b. Demo GET RHYTHM - 2:02(J.R. Cash)
c. Demo TRAIN OF LOVE - 1:53(J.R. Cash)
d. Demo COUNTRY BOY - 1:48(J.R. Cash)
e. Demo MY TREASURE - 1:18(J.R. Cash)
f. Demo BELSHAZAH - 2:20(J.R. Cash)
g. Demo HE'LL BE A FRIEND - 1:47(J.R. Cash)
h. Demo WHEN I THINK OF YOU - 1:42(Composer Unknown)
i. Demo I JUST DON'T CARE ENOUGH (TO CARRY ON) - 2:06(Composer Unknown)
j. Demo I'LL CRY FOR YOU - 2:28(Composer Unknown)
k. Demo YOU'RE MY BABY - 1:37(J.R. Cash)
All titles on: Columbia Legacy CD88697 60051 2 — From Memphis to Hollywood: Bootleg II    (2011)

All of the demo recordings attributed to this session were released on the Columbia/Legacy release "From Memphis To Hollywood: Bootleg II" in 2011.

The liner notes for this release do not attribute a date to these recordings, but can likely be attributed to late 1954 or early 1955.

From Columbia:

"From 1954 to '57, Cash, alone with his acoustic guitar, recorded a substantial number of undated demos -- tamer, shorter versions of songs in development. There are hints that some tunes may have been intended for others to record (Cash sings the opening verse of the "I Walk the Line" demo in a higher register to perhaps match the key of another vocalist) and it can be assumed that these tracks preceded the final, produced versions of such tunes as "Get Rhythm," "Train of Love" and "Country Boy."

The hushed aspect of these early sketches adds a disarming intimacy to a spiritual number like "He'll Be A Friend," as well as old-fashioned love songs like "My Treasure" and "When I Think of You." The last two Sun demos -- an acoustic take of "You're My Baby" and a distorted, guitar-and-rhythm version of "Rock and Roll Ruby" -- capture Cash's "rockability"; both became rockabilly classics when covered by (respectively) Roy Orbison and Warren Smith"


Date: Mar 22, 1955
Location: Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN Producer: Sam Phillips.
Label: Sun

a. Take 1 HEY PORTER - 2:09(J.R. Cash)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958   (1990)
Varese Sarabande CD302 066 487 2 — All Aboard the Blue Train    (2003)
Comet Records CDUV 165 — Open Road   (2006)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
b. Take 2 HEY PORTER(J.R. Cash)
unissued
c. Take 3 HEY PORTER(J.R. Cash)
unissued
d. U 150 - Take 4Master HEY PORTER - 2:12(J.R. Cash)
Sun LP 12"SLP 1255 — Now Here's Johnny Cash   (1961)
Sun LP 12"DT 90678 (Canadian Capitol Recd Club Edition) — Now Here's Johnny Cash   (1961)
Sun LP 12"DT 91458 (Canadian Capitol Recd Club Edition) — All Aboard the Blue Train   (1962)
e. Take 1 FOLSOM PRISON BLUES - 2:30(J.R. Cash)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958   (1990)
Varese Sarabande CD302 066 369 2 — With His Hot and Blue Guitar    (2002)
Comet Records CDUV 165 — Open Road   (2006)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
f. Take 2 FOLSOM PRISON BLUES - 2:33(J.R. Cash)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
Charly CDSNAJ 741 CDX — The Complete Sun Masters    (2008)
Time/Life CDM19635 — Original Greatest Hits   (2008)
Music Club Deluxe CDMCDLX128 — Rock and Roll Roots   (2010)
g. Take 3 FOLSOM PRISON BLUES - 2:27(J.R. Cash)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 17311 FK — Sun Country Box 1950-1959    (2013)
h. Take 4 FOLSOM PRISON BLUES - 2:28(J.R. Cash)
Charly LP 12"SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years   (1984)
Charly CDCDSUNBOX 5 — The Sun Years    (1995)
Snapper Music CDSMDCD 213 — The Essential Sun Collection    (1999)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
Sun/Cracker Barrel CDNo Cat # — The Sun Records Years    (2009)

Hey Porter

a. Hey Porter (Take 1): Starts with acoustic guitar instead of the electric guitar as found on the master take (take 4).

The version from the Bear Family Outtakes collection is probably the best sounding source, although I find all the sources to be excellent. The presence of tape hiss is much more apparent on The Outtakes version, but it is also much louder than the other sources (but not compressed).

d. Hey Porter (take 4): The master take.

The following sources have added reverb: Sun/Cracker Barrel CD: CR02382 — American Music Legends (2004), Hallmark (UK) CD: 700532 — I Walk The Line (2005), Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — All Aboard the Blue Train (2010), Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — Now Here's Johnny Cash (2010), Sun/Cracker Barrel CD: No Cat # — The Sun Records Years (2009), and Collectables CD: COL-CD-6010 — I Walk The Line (1998). If you prefer your Sun songs with a heavy dose of echo, I recommend either of the versions available on HD Tracks. The version with reverb can also be found on the original Sun LP issues of All Aboard the Blue Train and Now Here's Johnny Cash.

The following are sources to avoid: Chicago Music Company CD: CMR-94-108 — Lonesome Me (1994) and RedX Entertainment CD: RXBOX31056 — The Great Johnny Cash (1999). The version on the Lonesome Me CD is much louder in the left channel than the right, and sounds horrible, while the version on The Great Johnny Cash set is oddly loud and seems to have a slight stereo effect to it. This is how the song might sound if you play it a tunnel.

I'd also pass on the version as found on the Columbia CD: C3K 47991 — The Essential Johnny Cash 1955–1983 (1992) and Sony / Reader's Digest CD: A3 31880 — The Legendary Johnny Cash (1999) since it clips off the opening guitar note.

Most of the other versions sound fine if you're looking for the standard "dry" version sans reverb. I'd recommend Original Sun Singles '55 - '58 (Sundazed 2009), The Complete Recordings 1955-1958 (Time/Life 2005), or His Top Hits 1955 to 1958 Recordings (Charly 1988). Of course, you can't go wrong with the Bear Family set or the Columbia/Legacy Johnny Cash at Sun download from Qobuz or Pono.


Folsom Prison Blues

All takes feature Johnny Cash employing a falsetto throughout various points of each recording. Some have speculated that this was done for a specific artist that Johnny had in mind to record the song -- in order to better fit that individual's vocal style. The falsetto would be dropped when Johnny returned to the song on July 30, 1955, and the rest, as they say, is history.

e. Folsom Prison Blues (Take 1): The versions on Bear Family's The Man in Black 1955-1958 set (1990) and the Varese Satabande With His Hot and Blue Guitar (2002) sound good, but it's obvious that the take from the Bear Family Outtakes set (2007) is much closer to what we'd hear from the actual master tapes. Tape hiss is fully present on the Outtakes set -- much more so than the other sources. It's not to say that the other two sources should be avoided, but they offer a different listening experience when compared to the same take on the Outtakes set.

Note: Colin Escott says A.W. Kernodle played steel guitar on FOLSOM PRISON BLUES Take 1, but there is no steel guitar evident when listening to the master.

f. Folsom Prison Blues (Take 2): I would recommend the version from the Time/Life CD: M19635 — Original Greatest Hits (2008), but the Bear Family Outtakes set sounds fine as well. The same track from Charly's Complete Sun Sessions (2008) sounds as if it's a few generations removed from the master tape.

g. Folsom Prison Blues (Take 3): I would recommend the version from the Bear Family Outtakes set. Yes, it's louder, but the same track from the Sun Country Bear Family set sounds as if it's a few generations removed from the master tape. The Outtakes set version might be mastered a little 'hot' for my tastes, but at least you can really hear the acoustic guitars and the vocals POP.

h. Folsom Prison Blues (Take 4): I would recommend either the version from the Bear Family Outtakes set or the Sun/Cracker Barrel release The Sun Records Years (2009). They both seem to use the same master and, although it's a bit loud, there's plenty of tape hiss which should indicate that there was little to no noise reduction used. I'm also assuming that these sources are likely from digital copies of the master tapes.

The versions on The Essential Sun Collection (1999) from Snapper, the Charly CD set The Sun Years (1995) and the LP set of the same do not sound as good. The acoustic guitars are relatively muted and a bit muddy when compared to the Outtakes and the Cracker Barrel sources.


Date: Probably March 1955
Location: Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN Producer: Sam Phillips
Label: Sun

a. Take 1 WIDE OPEN ROAD - 2:32(J.R. Cash)
Charly LP 12"SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years   (1984)
Serdisco (Licensed from Charly Records) LP 12"30112386 (SUN LP 1015) — His Top Hits   (1988)
Charly CDCD Charly 146 — His Top Hits 1955 to 1958 Recordings    (1988)
Charly CDCDSUNBOX 5 — The Sun Years    (1995)
RedX Entertainment CDRXBOX31056 — The Great Johnny Cash    (1999)
Music Club Deluxe CDMCDLX128 — Rock and Roll Roots   (2010)
b. Take 2 WIDE OPEN ROAD(J.R. Cash)
unissued
c. Take 3 WIDE OPEN ROAD - 2:36(J.R. Cash)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958   (1990)
Varese Sarabande CD302 066 056 2 — The Complete Original Sun Singles    (1999)
Varese Sarabande CD302 066 214 2 — Roads Less Travelled   (2001)
d. Take 1 TWO TIMIN' WOMAN - 2:00(J.R. Cash)
Reader's Digest / Sun CDSSTC05536 — The Complete Early Hits Collection    (2006)
Madacy CDTCD2 52258 — Forever Johnny Cash   (2006)
e. Take 2 TWO TIMIN' WOMAN - 1:59(J.R. Cash)
Charly LP 12"SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years   (1984)
Serdisco (Licensed from Charly Records) LP 12"30112386 (SUN LP 1015) — His Top Hits   (1988)
Charly CDCD Charly 146 — His Top Hits 1955 to 1958 Recordings    (1988)

Wide Open Road

a. Wide Open Road (Take 1): Available on only a handful of releases, this take could truly be either assigned as take 1 or take 2. I've placed it as take 1 since documentation doesn't appear to exist that would allow us to properly assign the correct take number. If you compare the steel guitar and how it trails off at the very end of the song, you'll easily be able to differentiate between this take and take 3.

I'd recommend seeking this out on Music Club Deluxe CD: MCDLX128 — Rock and Roll Roots (2010), Charly CD: CD Charly 146 — His Top Hits 1955 to 1958 Recordings (1988) or Charly CD: CDSUNBOX 5 — The Sun Years (1995). They all sound great.

Avoid this take on The Great Johnny Cash CD set (1999) from RedX Entertainment.

c. Wide Open Road (Take 3): A bit more refined than the previous take labeled as take 1. With this arrangement, it would appear that the band finally nailed it -- although it would be revisited in the 'mid 1955' session with a newer, faster arrangment. Take 3 would later be overdubbed on April 21, 1964 and released on The Original Sun Sound of Johnny Cash LP.

You really can't go wrong with most sources for this take, but I prefer take 3 as found on Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014), Time/Life CD: 20803-P — The Complete Recordings 1955-1958 (2005), and Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 056 2 — The Complete Original Sun Singles (1999). I would avoid the Union Square Music CD: SIMPTNCD006 — Simply Johnny Cash (2014) since their version is sourced from a poor vinyl recording and runs slightly fast.

The versions found on Bear Family Records CD: BCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes (2007) and Sun / Victor Entertainment CD: VICP-65263 — The Original Johnny Cash (2014) are mastered a bit loud for my tastes, but still sound fine depending on your mastering preferences.


Two Timin' Woman

d. Two Timin' Woman (Take 1): Most discographies of Johnny Cash's Sun Sessions list this take as unissued -- and believe me, I didn't think this one existed either. At least not outside of the Sun tape vaults. What I have found as I started to dig into some of the lesser known Sun compilations is that sometimes you strike gold. Finding this take on the 2006 compilation from Reader's Digest entitled "The Complete Early Hits Collection" was one of those moments. This take would later be overdubbed on April 21, 1964 for inclusion on The Original Sun Sound of Johnny Cash LP, but for fans of the undubbed versions of these tracks, this take has always eluded collectors. Well no more! If you have to have it all, be sure to find a copy of this Reader's Digest compilation.

This (rare) take 1 of Two Timin' Woman is also found on the 3 CD set from Madacy entitled Forever Johnny Cash (2006). It's interesting that the two sources that I've located with this take were both released in 2006 -- and they don't seem to be sourced from the same master. The better sounding source is definitely the Reader's Digest set. It sounds much smoother and 'cleaner' even at higher volumes, while the Madacy version has a bit of digital "swoosh" to it when the volume is increased. It's a mystery why this seemed to suddenly appear out of nowhere in 2006. You'd at least think that the sound quality would be the same between the two different sources!

You can easily tell the difference between take 1 and take 2 of TWO TIMIN' WOMAN by listening to the opening electric guitar intro -- they're completely different.

e. Two Timin' Woman (Take 2): This has always been the most circulated, and easiest to find take, of the two undubbed versions that can be found on the various compilations.

You'll notice that all sources for take 2 use a tape that cuts off abruptly as the songs fades to black with the final strum of the electric guitar. Most sources tend to do a quick fade to mask the cut. If you're looking for a nicely faded version, seek out either Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014) or Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 214 2 — Roads Less Travelled (2001).

There are a number of releases that don't add the fade and just let the track cut on it's own. These include the Bear Family Records CD: BCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958 (1990), Bear Family Records CD: BCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes (2007), and all four of the sources on the Collectables label.

We're talking absolute minutia here, so unless you're a massive completist, either version is fine. Find one that sounds good to you and call it good.

I'd recommend the following sources from a sound quality perspective: Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014), Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 214 2 — Roads Less Travelled (2001), Charly CD: CD Charly 146 — His Top Hits 1955 to 1958 Recordings (1988), and Time/Life CD: 20803-P — The Complete Recordings 1955-1958 (2005).

There are really only a few sources that I would go as far as to recommend that you avoid. The version on RedX Entertainment CD: RXBOX31056 — The Great Johnny Cash (1999) has a weird 'tunnel' effect to it that just makes it sound so strange when compared to other sources. I have no idea why so many of the tracks on this 3 disc compilation sound this way, but it appears to be a unique effect to this compilation.

Unfortunately, I would also recommend skipping this track as found on the Charly LP 12": SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years (1984) set. If you have to have one vinyl compilation of the Sun sessions, you still can hardly go wrong with this 5 LP set, but the version of Two Timin' Woman (Take 2) on platter #1 runs about 2% too fast -- and it's very noticeable.

Finally, the version on Sun / Victor Entertainment CD: VICP-65263 — The Original Johnny Cash (2014) from Japan just sounds harsh to my ears. I don't know that I'd definitely label this as one to avoid, but I don't think it's going to appeal to all listeners.


Date: Probably May 1955
Location: Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN Producer: Sam Phillips
Label: Sun

a. Take 1 CRY, CRY, CRY(J.R. Cash)
unissued
b. Take 2 CRY, CRY, CRY(J.R. Cash)
unissued
c. Take 3 CRY, CRY, CRY - 2:25(J.R. Cash)
Sun LP 12"SUN-2-118 — The Legend   (1970)
Hilltop (Pickwick) LP 12"JS 6097 — I Walk The Line   (1971)
Charly LP 12"SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years   (1984)
d. Take 3a (Edit)Outfake CRY, CRY, CRY - 3:03(J.R. Cash)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
Sun/Cracker Barrel CDNo Cat # — The Sun Records Years    (2009)
Music Club Deluxe CDMCDLX128 — Rock and Roll Roots   (2010)
Columbia Legacy (Pono/Qobuz) FLACNo Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun   (2014)
e. U 151 - Take 4Master CRY, CRY, CRY - 2:26(J.R. Cash)
Sun LP 12"LP 1220 — With His Hot and Blue Guitar   (1957)
Sun LP 12"SLP 1255 — Now Here's Johnny Cash   (1961)
Sun LP 12"DT 90678 (Canadian Capitol Recd Club Edition) — Now Here's Johnny Cash   (1961)

Cry, Cry, Cry

a. The Continuing Saga of Cry, Cry, Cry (Take 1): For a number of decades, it has been thought that take one of Cry, Cry, Cry was an extended version that featured Luther Perkins playing a break after every verse instead of just after the second and fourth verse. This "extended version" (and my use of quotation marks is intentional) seemed to first appear on the market via a few Pickwick LP releases in the early 1970s. It made its way into the digital era when it was included on the Bear Family box set The Outtakes in 2007. Since this release, it still can only be found on a few releases -- those include The Sun Records Years sold in Cracker Barrel stores in 2009 and the Sony digital release Johnny Cash at Sun in 2014.

How cool! An extended release of one of Johnny Cash's classic songs. Right? Wrong!

Thanks to some fantastic detective work on the SteveHoffman.TV forums, it has essentially been confirmed that this "extended version" is nothing more than an outfake (i.e. a studio creation).

It would appear that the guitar solo from take 3 (which can be found from 1:03 to 1:22) was flown into the following sections on the extended version of Take 1 to essentially create a longer version of the song:

1st Solo: :30 to :49
2nd Solo: 1:22 to 1:41
3rd Solo: 2:01 to 2:20

You can hear the (somewhat) bum note in take three at 1:12 and you can also hear this slight flub in the same section on all the guitar breaks flown in to the extended version.

Here's a breakdown between take one and three:

Take 1/Take 3

Opening guitar intro...

Everybody knows where you go when the sun goes down.
I think you only live to see the lights up town.
I wasted my time when I would try, try, try.
cause when the lights have lost their glow, you'll cry, cry, cry.

(1st guitar solo take 1 @ :30 to :49 (same as 1st guitar solo on take 3 found at 1:03 to 1:22))

Soon your sugar-daddies will all be gone.
You'll wake up some cold day and find you're alone.
You'll call for me but I'm gonna tell you "Bye, bye, bye,"
When I turn around and walk away, you'll cry, cry, cry,

You're gonna cry, cry, cry and you'll cry alone,
When everyone's forgotten and you're left on your own.
You're gonna cry, cry, cry.

(2nd guitar solo Take 1 @ 1:22 to 1:41 (same as 1st guitar solo on take 3))
(1st guitar solo in take 3 @ 1:03 to 1:22 / bum note at 1:12)

I lie awake at night to wait 'til you come in
You stay a little while and then you're gone again
Every question that I ask, I get a lie, lie, lie
For every lie you tell, you're gonna cry, cry, cry

(3rd guitar solo take 1 @ 2:01 to 2:20 (same as 1st guitar solo on take 3))

When your fickle love gets old, no one will care for you.
Then you'll come back to me for a little love that's true.
I'll tell you no and then you'll ask me why, why, why?
When I remind you of all of this, you'll cry, cry, cry.

You're gonna cry, cry, cry and you'll want me then,
It'll hurt when you think of the fool you've been.
You're gonna cry, cry, cry.

(Closing guitar solo in take 1 @ 2:54 to end at 3:02)
(Closing guitar solo in take 3 @ 2:16 to end at 2:24)

I'm a little disappointed that the "extended" Cry Cry Cry is simply a studio creation -- an edit made from the parts recorded in take 3. I'd love to know the history of why and when it was created. I guess all posibilities are on the table. Would Sun, in the mid '50s, have had the capabilities to create such an edit (and I do think it's pretty good for what it's worth). Perhaps it was included in the tapes turned over to Sun International in the late '60s and snuck out? Would Sun International have created it to be able to add some new 'content' to their releases? The Bear Family release in 2007 seemed to have access to CDR copies of the original tapes and some original information -- I wonder if they knew/know how this specific tape was stored within Sun and if it originated from the time of the original sessions? Was this outfake/edit included along with other outtakes from this session? I doubt that we will ever know.

So I suppose this outfake/edit of take 3 is as valid of a Sun recording as the tracks that received overdubs in 1961 or 1964 -- created long after Johnny had left the label and certainly done without his input or approval. I suppose that it would be looked at with more validity if it was a 1955 creation instead of a studio created "alternate" from 1970. It's a mystery for sure.

With all of the uncertainty surrounding this take/edit, I've decided that it should no longer be shown as being take 1. Instead, I've decided to link it with it's original source take -- take 3 -- and I've labeled it as Take 3a. I think it needs to be included somewhere within the sessionography and this is as good of place as any. I'll leave it up to you to decide if this edit belongs in your collection of Johnny's Sun recordings.

Note: In John L. Smith's 1999 book Another Song To Sing he comments on "take 1" that "one can only imagine Sam Phillips asking Cash and the group to reduce the length of the song as he did with the original cut of Big River." This notation on pages 137-138 of his book is likely the reason that so many other sessionographies continued to present this take as an extended early version of Cry, Cry, Cry instead of the 'outfake' that we know it to be today.

c. Cry, Cry, Cry (Take 3): Hearing the difference between (the real) take 3 and take 4 requires a good ear and a bit of patience. Take 3 can be identified by a small drop off or stutter that appears during the instrumental break at about 1:21 and there is not an errant guitar note after the final "cry" of the song and the beginning of the closing guitar piece.

The version found on the Charly LP 12": SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years (1984) includes two false starts before going into the proper take 3. This is the only release that feature these additional false starts. Sun Box 103 is a must have if you're collecting every scrap of Johnny's Sun era.

I don't know that there's a truly great sounding take 3 out of the numerous sources that the track has appeared, but the following all sound good: Charly CD: Charly CD: CDSUNBOX 5 — The Sun Years (1995), CD Charly 146 — His Top Hits 1955 to 1958 Recordings (1988), Bear Family Records CD: BCD 15247 — Up Through the Years 1955-1957 (1986), and Charly CD: SNAJ 706 CD — His Sun Years (2001). The version on the Legend box set (2005) from Columbia Records sounds fat and muscular to my ears (if that description helps you at all) -- the bass is much more pronounced than found on any other source. For a more mellow mastering, I'd suggest one of my choices above, but if you prefer a more modern mastering (and I do think it sounds good) I'd try the version found on Legend.

I would avoid the versions found on Bellaphon CD: 288 13 003 — 20 Super Hits (1988) and RedX Entertainment CD: RXBOX31056 — The Great Johnny Cash (1999). Both are different, but have a layer of reverb that just doesn't work. The version on 20 Super Hits is less offensive to the ears. If these were vintage mixes (which I doubt) from the original Sun period, I could see where they would be valuable from a collecting perspective -- but the bottom line is that they just sound lousy.

One other item of note: The Charly CD: SNAJ 741 CDX — The Complete Sun Masters (2008) three disc set shows two different versions of "Cry, Cry, Cry". The first is found on disc 1, track 3 and the second is disc 1, track 21. I'm sure they thought that they were including take 3 and take 4 (the master take), but no dice. Both versions are the same -- take 3.

d. Cry, Cry, Cry (Take 3a): See the notes above regarding this outfake/edit -- this is the take that most discographies have labeled as "take 1".

This is included on only a handful of compilations and you can't go wrong with any of the sources. They all sound about the same.

e. Cry, Cry, Cry (Take 4): This is the master take and the take released as a single. You can identify this take by the lack of a drop off or a stutter around the 1:21 mark and an errant guitar note, from Luther Perkins, that can be heard after Johnny's last sung "cry" and the beginning of the closing guitar piece. The time may vary depending on the source that you're listening too, but you can generally hear this stray guitar note around 2:18. If you hear that stray note you're listening to take 4.

It's relatively easy to find a good sounding version of take 4 -- presumably since it was the master take. I would recommend Time/Life CD: 20803-P — The Complete Recordings 1955-1958 (2005), Sundazed CD: SC 11205 — Original Sun Singles '55-'58 (2009), and Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — With His Hot and Blue Guitar (2010).

Of all of the sources listed for this take, there's not one that I would recommend that you avoid. Some are better than others, but there's nothing truly awful.

The following sources for take 4 include additional reverb: Sun (Ultra Vybe) CD: CDSOL-5154 — Now Here's Johnny Cash (2015), Sun (Ultra Vybe) CD: CDSOL-5153 — With His Hot and Blue Guitar (2015), Curb Records CD: D2-79259 — Sun Records 60th Anniversary Box Set (2012), Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — Now Here's Johnny Cash (2010) Columbia / Sony CD: 88697915392 — The Real...Johnny Cash (2011), and Sun / Victor Entertainment CD: VICP-65263 — The Original Johnny Cash (2014). The reverb on both version matches the original album release (both the normal Sun LP and the Canadian Capitol Record Club edition), but I would recommend getting this from the HD Tracks download, the Sun (Ultra Vybe) CD: CDSOL-5153 — With His Hot and Blue Guitar (2015), Sun (Ultra Vybe) CD: CDSOL-5154 — Now Here's Johnny Cash (2015), or Columbia / Sony CD: 88697915392 — The Real...Johnny Cash (2011).

When the Sun albums were released to HD Tracks in 2010, the following statement was included to accompany the announcement:

For this project we are painstakingly making new transfers from the original Sun Masters. We’ve eliminated phase cancellation issues that have been present in previous transfers and brought a new level of clarity and depth to these recordings. Basically, by going back to the very first generation master, and then adjusting for each song individually, we’re able to play these tapes back just as if you were sitting in the control room with Sam Phillips listening from the very same machine used to make the tape. (Source: http://www.sunrecords.com/news/original-sun-records-releases-on-hdtracks-com).

They did a fantastic job with all seven Sun albums on HD Tracks and I highly recommend them -- These downloads are one of my top sources for Johnny's Sun recordings.


Date: Mid 1955
Location: Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN Producer: Sam Phillips
Label: Sun

a. 7-10 WIDE OPEN ROAD - 2:31(J.R. Cash)
Share Records LP 12"Share 5002 — The Blue Train   (1970)
Sun LP 12"6641008 — The Man, The World, His Music   (1971)
Hilltop (Pickwick) LP 12"JS-6101 — Rock Island Line   (1971)
b. Take 1 PORT OF LONELY HEARTS(J.R. Cash)
unissued
c. U 412 - Take 2Master PORT OF LONELY HEARTS - 2:32(J.R. Cash)
Sun LP 12"SLP 1255 — Now Here's Johnny Cash   (1961)
Sun LP 12"DT 90678 (Canadian Capitol Recd Club Edition) — Now Here's Johnny Cash   (1961)
Share Records LP 12"Share 5002 — The Blue Train   (1970)
d. 7-37 I COULDN'T KEEP FROM CRYING - 2:03(Marty Robbins)
Sagittarius Recording Company LP 12"OTD 8025 — Truck Stop Favorites   (1982)
Charly LP 12"SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years   (1984)
Pickwick CDPWK 014 — The Great Country Love Songs Collection   (1987)
e. NEW MEXICO - 2:07(Lambson, Johnson)
Sun LP 12"6641008 — The Man, The World, His Music   (1971)
Charly LP 12"SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years   (1984)
Castle Communications CDCCSCD 146 — The Johnny Cash Collection   (1986)

Wide Open Road

a. Wide Open Road (7-10): We return to this song for the third time in the Sun sessions and this attempt would appear to be the most fully realized version.

The good news with this take is that all of the sources sound good -- there's really nothing to avoid. But you will find that some sources are sped up while others are likely running at the correct speed. Focus in on Johnny's vocal on the normal version for confirmation that it's running at the correct speed.

The following sources run a bit fast and generally can be timed at about 2:21:

Charly LP 12": SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years (1984)
Charly CD: CD CHARLY 18 — Country Boy (1986)
Castle Communications CD: CCSCD 146 — The Johnny Cash Collection (1986)
Serdisco (Licensed from Charly Records) LP 12": 30112386 (SUN LP 1015) — His Top Hits (1988)
Charly CD: CD Charly 146 — His Top Hits 1955 to 1958 Recordings (1988)
Charly CD: CDSUNBOX 5 — The Sun Years (1995)
Hallmark (UK) CD: 330232 — Country Classics (1996)
RedX Entertainment CD: RXBOX31056 — The Great Johnny Cash (1999)
Charly CD: SNAJ 706 CD — His Sun Years (2001)
No Label - Licensed from Charly Licensing CDKBOX3260 — Johnny Cash (2001)
Disky CD: HR 902140 — This Is Gold (2004)
Pazzazz CD1PAZZ001-2 — Country Boy (2004)
Union Square Music CD: SGDCD2004 — The Solid Gold Collection (2005)
Musical Memories CD: RGCD1069 — Country Boy (2006)
RDM Edition CD: CD149 — Integrale 1955-1958 (2009)
Music Brokers CD: MBB7091 — The Greatest Songs (2011)
BMG / Chrysalis CD: BMG0112 — The Music of Johnny Cash 1955-1974 (Promo Only) (2012)

If forced to pick one version I'd likely go with Charly's His Top Hits (1988).

The following sources sound as if they are running at the correct speed -- your ears can fool you into thinking that these sources are running too slow, especially if you're comparing the 'normal' speed version against the sped up version:

Sun LP 12": 6641008 — The Man, The World, His Music (1971)
Bear Family Records CD: BCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958 (1990)
Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 488 2 — The Original Sun Sound of Johnny Cash (2003)
Varese Sarabande CD302 066 537 2 — Cash Sings Cash (2004)
Comet Records CD: UV 165 — Open Road (2006)
Reader's Digest / Sun CD: SSTC05536 — The Complete Early Hits Collection (2006)
Charly CD: SNAJ 741 CDX — The Complete Sun Masters (2008)

These all sound good, but I'd likely choose the Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 488 2 — The Original Sun Sound of Johnny Cash (2003) or Varese Sarabande CD302 066 537 2 — Cash Sings Cash (2004) if forced to pick.

The take as found on Charly LP 12": SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years (1984) includes some chatter and a false start. The recording starts with Johnny asking "Can I get a little water before we try it again?" and then we have a false start that ends with Johnny saying "I missed a couple beats right there...".

For what it's worth, I don't think the sped up version is horrible. If it's all you've ever known it might not have even occurred to you that it's running a little fast. Once you live with the source that runs at the correct speed for a while it becomes harder and harder to return to the version that runs fast!


Port of Lonely Hearts

In December 2014, Rockbeat Records and Sun Entertainment announced the upcoming release of a 7 disc deluxe set entitled "The Complete Sun Session" -- which was set to include 5 CDs of largely Sun studio recordings, one live disc, and a DVD. This set has yet to see the light of day, I assume, due to a dispute over the ownership of Johnny's (still) unreleased Sun recordings. It was noted that CD1 would include a version of Port of Lonely Hearts labeled as "unreleased version added reverb". This could be the currently unreleased take 1, but my assumption is that it's the common version we know as take 2 -- only with added reverb. You'll see in my comments below that some sources for take 2 do seem to include reverb. My guess is that this is what we would have seen released on the Pledge Music set. It seems like an odd choice to include two versions of the same song, one with reverb, one without, on this type of set. I have not updated the sessionography with data on this track since it cannot be confirmed that it is truly a previously uncirculated take. Unfortunately, this deluxe set was shelved due to a dispute over the ownership of Johnny's unreleased Sun recordings that were set to be included in this set.

c. Port of Lonely Hearts (U412 Take 2): If you're looking for a decent sounding version of Port of Lonely Hearts I'd stick with one of the following sources: Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — Now Here's Johnny Cash (2010), Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 468 2 — Now Here's Johnny Cash (2003), Time/Life CD: 20803-P — The Complete Recordings 1955-1958 (2005), Bear Family Records CD: BCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958 (1990), Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 056 2 — The Complete Original Sun Singles (1999), or Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014).

The guitar and vocal are quite clear and sharp and there's plenty of tape hiss to be heard on all of the above.

The version released on the Music Brokers CD: MBB7091 — The Greatest Songs (2011), Music Club Deluxe CD: MCDLX128 — Rock and Roll Roots (2010) and the Now Here's Johnny Cash album via HD Tracks sounds as if it has had just the slightest touch of reverb added to it (this is also on the original Sun LP 12": SLP 1255 — Now Here's Johnny Cash (1961) and Sun LP 12": DT 90678 (Canadian Capitol Recd Club Edition) — Now Here's Johnny Cash (1961)). To my ears, the versions on CD and download that include reverb fail to replicate the sound as found on the original Now Here's Johnny Cash LP. It doesn't sound bad, just different.

The rest of the sources range from horrible to okay. Take the three versions that I have listed from Charly Records. If you're just playing your 1995 "The Sun Years" set, I'm sure this track will sound just fine to you. It's not until you start to compare it against other souces that you begin to hear how 'muted' their versions are compared to others. The acoustic guitars are not as vibrant and it just feels like the source tape used was a few removed from the master tape.

Note that this master take includes a second Johnny Cash vocal as an overdub -- and it works quite well. The undubbed version, without this second vocal, has never been officially released.


I Couldn't Keep From Crying

d. I Couldn't Keep From Crying (7-37): I would recommend either Columbia Legacy CD: 88697 60051 2 — From Memphis to Hollywood: Bootleg II (2011) or Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014).

All versions, except the following, seem to ever so slightly cut off the opening guitar note: Music Club Deluxe CD: MCDLX128 — Rock and Roll Roots (2010), Charly CD: CDSUNBOX 5 — The Sun Years (1995), Charly CD: SNAJ 741 CDX — The Complete Sun Masters (2008), Charly CD: SNAJ 706 CD — His Sun Years (2001), and Charly LP 12": SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years (1984). It can be difficult to hear until you start comparing the various sources. Oddly enough, these same four sources have also zapped all of the tape hiss from the recording.

This take was also overdubbed with a vocal group at an unknown date -- possibly as late as 1970. See the session labeled as UNKNOWN DATE #3 for more information.


New Mexico

e. New Mexico: I would recommend the following sources for this track: Time/Life CD: 20803-P — The Complete Recordings 1955-1958 (2005), Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014), Columbia Legacy CD: 88697 60051 2 — From Memphis to Hollywood: Bootleg II (2011), and Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 214 2 — Roads Less Travelled (2001).

I would avoid Bellaphon CD: 288 13 003 — 20 Super Hits (1988), since it runs slow, and the version on RedX Entertainment CD: RXBOX31056 — The Great Johnny Cash (1999).

New Mexico would later be overdubbed on April 21, 1964 and released on The Original Sun Sound of Johnny Cash LP.


Date: Unknown Date #3
Label: Sun
Overdub Session

a. Overdubbed Vocals I COULDN'T KEEP FROM CRYING - 2:04(Marty Robbins)
  Special Music CDSPCD 337 — Fools Hall of Fame   (1990)
Collectables CDCOL 6431 — The Singing Storyteller & The Rough Cut King of Country Music    (1999)
Sun / Music / SAAR Records CDCD 41005 — The Sun Years Vol. 1   (2000)

I Couldn't Keep From Crying was overdubbed with a female vocal group at an unknown date (possibly as late as 1970).

I was unable to confirm when this recording was originally released on LP although it's a safe bet that its initial release was on a Sun International album.

There isn't too much difference between most of the sources, but I'd recommend going with Reader's Digest / Sun CD: SSTC05536 — The Complete Early Hits Collection (2006) or Sun / Victor Entertainment CD: VICP-65263 — The Original Johnny Cash (2014). The Original Johnny Cash version is probably the most clear, but it is also mastered louder than the other sources.

I'd avoid the Entertainment Supplies CD: ES19003 — The Best of the Sun Years (2012).

A true oddity, for sure, and one that you don't see included on many compilations.


Date: Jul 30, 1955
Location: Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN Producer: Sam Phillips
Label: Sun

a. U 172/7-36 - Take 1Master FOLSOM PRISON BLUES - 2:48(J.R. Cash)
Sun LP 12"LP 1220 — With His Hot and Blue Guitar   (1957)
Sun LP 12"DT 91458 (Canadian Capitol Recd Club Edition) — All Aboard the Blue Train   (1962)
Sun LP 12"LP 1270 — All Aboard the Blue Train   (1962)
b. Take 2 FOLSOM PRISON BLUES(J.R. Cash)
unissued
c. Take 1 SO DOGGONE LONESOME(J.R. Cash)
unissued
d. Take 2 SO DOGGONE LONESOME(J.R. Cash)
unissued
e. U 173/7-53 - Take 3Master SO DOGGONE LONESOME - 2:36(J.R. Cash)
Sun LP 12"LP 1220 — With His Hot and Blue Guitar   (1957)
Sun LP 12"SLP 1255 — Now Here's Johnny Cash   (1961)
Sun LP 12"DT 90678 (Canadian Capitol Recd Club Edition) — Now Here's Johnny Cash   (1961)
f. Take 1 MEAN EYED CAT(J.R. Cash)
unissued
g. U 385/7-50 - Take 2Master MEAN EYED CAT - 2:31(J.R. Cash)
Sun LP 12"SLP 1245 — Sings Hank Williams   (1960)
Design Records LP 12"DLP-610 — Story of a Broken Heart (Mono Edition)   (1962)
Sun LP 12"SQBO-93213 — The Greatness of Johnny Cash   (1971)
h. Take 1 LUTHER PLAYED THE BOOGIE(J.R. Cash)
unissued
i. Take 2 LUTHER PLAYED THE BOOGIE(J.R. Cash)
unissued
j. U 351/7-16 - Take 3Master LUTHER PLAYED THE BOOGIE - 2:02(J.R. Cash)
Sun LP 12"SLP 1240 — Greatest!   (1959)
Design Records LP 12"DLP-610 — Story of a Broken Heart (Mono Edition)   (1962)
Sun LP 12"SUN-2-118 — The Legend   (1970)

Folsom Prison Blues

a. Folsom Prison Blues (U172/7-36 Take 1): This track has been on so many compilations that I would recommend that you stick with one of the major players when finding the best sounding version. I would go with one of the following: Sundazed CD: SC 11205 — Original Sun Singles '55-'58 (2009), Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014), or Time/Life CD: 20803-P — The Complete Recordings 1955-1958 (2005). There are plenty of other sources that sound just fine, but to my ears you really can't go wrong with the three noted above.

I compared about 30+ versions of the song and did find that a few sources ran slightly fast or seemed to have had the pitch of the song altered. If you play the intro to three or four versions that are at the correct speed and then you hit one that runs fast or is in a different pitch it sticks out like a sore thumb. Although when a person listens to the off-speed version, within the context of the compilation that it's on, I doubt that they hear anything out of sorts about the recording -- so the differences can be subtle.

Unfortunately, like a number of the tracks on Charly's Sun Years vinyl box set (Sun Box 103) this version runs a bit fast to my ears. In addition, the versions on the Hallmark (UK) CD: 700532 — I Walk The Line (2005) and the Legend CD: WZ 90072 — The Best of Johnny Cash (1993) run fast and are sourced from a (poor) vinyl transfer.

Folsom Prison Blues was overdubbed on November 22, 1957 and released on the Sings Hank Williams Sun LP. And yes, it's awful.


So Doggone Lonesome

In December 2014, Rockbeat Records and Sun Entertainment announced the upcoming release of a 7 disc deluxe set entitled "The Complete Sun Session" -- which was to include 5 CDs of largely Sun studio recordings, one live disc, and a DVD. It was noted that CD1 would include a version of So Doggone Lonesome labeled as "unreleased slower take". Since no outtakes have surfaced from this 7/30/1955 session, it's possible that this is either take 1 or take 2 from this session. I have not updated the sessionography with data on this track since it cannot be confirmed that it is truly a previously uncirculated take. Unfortunately, this deluxe set was shelved due to a dispute over the ownership of Johnny's unreleased Sun recordings that were set to be included in this set.

e. So Doggone Lonesome (U173/7-53 Take 3): This track can be found both with reverb and without (i.e. dry).

The following sources have additional reverb: Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — All Aboard the Blue Train (2010) and Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — Now Here's Johnny Cash (2010). The original vinyl LPs for both All Aboard the Blue Train and Now Here's Johnny Cash also include the version with reverb.

The dry version (sans reverb) can be found on most compilations and I recommend the following: Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — With His Hot and Blue Guitar (2010), Sundazed CD: SC 11205 — Original Sun Singles '55-'58 (2009), Time/Life CD: 20803-P — The Complete Recordings 1955-1958 (2005), Bear Family Records CD: BCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958 (1990), Bear Family Records CD: BCD 15247 — Up Through the Years 1955-1957 (1986), and Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014).


Mean Eyed Cat

f. Mean Eyed Cat (Take 1): There are some discographies online that state that take 1 of Mean Eyed Cat can be found on a vinyl LP from Charly entitled His Top Hits 1955 to 1958 Recordings (SUN 1015; 1984). I can confirm that the version on this album is take 2 -- the dry version. It's my opinion that take 1 of Mean Eyed Cat has not been released officially -- if it still exists at all in the Sun vaults.

It's my thought that the belief that take one even exists can probably be pinpointed back to John L. Smith's 1999 book Another Song To Sing. In it, he states the following regarding take 1 of "Mean Eyed Cat" as found on the Charly Sun 1015 LP His Top Hits: "There is an album notation for this master showing it "previously unissued in original format" so I'm assuming it is this previously unissued master."

The key word in the above sentence is assuming.

It doesn't appear that he went to the source and listened to the record -- if he had, he would have found that it's take 2 and we probably wouldn't have had to have this note in this sessionography at all.

Flash ahead a few years and the great, but out-of-date, sessionography at the URL http://hankwilliamsdiscography.com/JohnnyCash/1954-1965 Sessions.php lists the His Top Hits LP as the source for take 1 of "Mean Eyed Cat" for the session on July 30, 1955.

I wrote the author of this sessionography and he stated that his notation was due to John L. Smith's entry in the book noted above. So there you have it. If take one exists, it's likely still in a vault with the rest of the Johnny's unreleased Sun sessions!

g. Mean Eyed Cat (U385/7-50 Take 2): The following sources have additional reverb:

Sun LP 12": SQBO-93213 — The Greatness of Johnny Cash (1971)
Sun LP 12": 6641008 — The Man, The World, His Music (1971)
Charly LP 12": SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years (1984)
Charly CD: CD CHARLY 18 — Country Boy (1986)
Castle Communications CD: CCSCD 146 — The Johnny Cash Collection (1986)
Spectrum CD: U4065 — I Walk The Line (1988)
Bellaphon CD: 288 13 003 — 20 Super Hits (1988)
Rhino CD: R2 70950 — The Sun Years (1990)
Chicago Music Company CD: CMR-94-108 — Lonesome Me (1994)
Hallmark (UK) CD: 330232 — Country Classics (1996)
Collectables CD: COL 6427 — Get Rhythm & Story Songs of the Trains and Rivers (1999)
Goldies CD: GLD 63189 — The Great Johnny Cash (1999)
Collectables CD: COL 6437 — Sings I Walk The Line & Sings Folsom Prison Blues (1999)
Double Play CD: Double Play 4053 — The Legend (2000)
Sun / Music / SAAR Records CDCD 41005 — The Sun Years Vol. 1 (2000) (Very hissy)
Record Sales CD: No Cat # — Johnny Collection Volumes 1 – 4 (2003)
Direct Source CD: VAU 36082-VIN — Vintage Vaults (2004) *static at the beginning of the track*
Madacy CD: BTP2 4996/7 — Country Legends (2004)
Country Stars CDCTS 55406 — I Walk The Line (2005)
Madacy CDDDP2 51180 — Johnny Cash Collection (2005)
Direct Source CD: DIGLBX-4-62012 — Songbook Collection (2006)
Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — Sings Hank Williams (2010)
Music Brokers CD: MBB7091 — The Greatest Songs (2011)
Entertainment Supplies CD: ES19003 — The Best of the Sun Years (2012)

If you're looking for the original version with reverb I'd definitely stick with the Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — Sings Hank Williams (2010) download. On CD, the Rhino CD: R2 70950 — The Sun Years (1990) disc is also very good.

The dry version (sans reverb) can be found on a number of compilations and I'd recommend Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014), Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 464 2 — Sings Hank Williams (2003), and Time/Life CD: 20803-P — The Complete Recordings 1955-1958 (2005).

To add a little wrinkle to the Mean Eyed Cat story, there are a few sources that let the original master tape roll a touch longer than others. The only item you'll hear is a bit of Luther's electric guitar as he covers the guitar strings after the recording has finished. I don't consider it to be essential, but so many great sounding sources use this tape so you might as well grab one of these if you're looking to have everything "Sun":

Bear Family Records CD: BCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958 (1990)
Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 464 2 — Sings Hank Williams (2003)
Time/Life CD: 20803-P — The Complete Recordings 1955-1958 (2005)
Bear Family Records CD: BCD 16820 AH — Traveling Cash: An Imaginary Journey (2006)
Comet Records CD: UV 165 — Open Road (2006)
Real Gone Music CD: RGCCD001 — 8 Classic Albums (2013)
Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014)
Real Gone Music CD: RGMCD161 — Singles Collection 1955-1962 (2014)
Big3 CD: BT3106 — The Absolutely Essential 3 CD Collection (2015)
Sun (Ultra Vybe) CD: CDSOL-5165 — Sings Hank Williams (2015)

All of the compilations above use the dry (i.e. non reverb) version of the track. Other sources use this same exact take 2, but either fade out at the end or cut off this small guitar part.


Luther Played the Boogie

j. Luther Played the Boogie (U351/7-16): Unfortunately, there are no known false starts or alternate takes for anything from this session -- Luther's Boogie included.

I detected some addtional reverb on the version found on the Hallmark (UK) CD: 700532 — I Walk The Line (2005). I haven't been able to confirm if this dates from the Sun period or was added via EQ by the label long after the original Sun sessions.

I'd recommend the following sources for the best sounding copy of Luther's Boogie: Columbia Legacy CD: 88697910472-61 — With His Hot and Blue Guitar (Complete Columbia Box Set) (2012), Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014), Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 442 2 — Greatest! (2003), and Sundazed CD: SC 11205 — Original Sun Singles '55-'58 (2009).


Date: Probably Late 1955/Early 1956
Location: KWEM Radio Studio, West Memphis, AR Producer: Clyde Leoppard

a. ROCK 'N' ROLL RUBY - 1:41(J.R. Cash)
  Charly LP 12"SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years   (1984)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958   (1990)
Charly CDCDSUNBOX 5 — The Sun Years    (1995)

This was a demonstration tape. A note for this session mentions that Cash recorded this song for Clyde Leoppard, leader of the "Snearly Ranch Boys" from West Memphis. This group included a lead vocalist named Warren Smith who later recorded RUBY for the Sun Label in December 1955 (Sun 239).

Some theorize that Johnny Cash did not write this song and instead purchased it from George Jones. The hillbillycountry blog states, "As Warren Smith (and Cash reportedly also) eventually stated, Cash bought the song from George Jones for $40. In fact, Cash was touring in Texas during December 1955 and January 1956, perfoming both in Odessa, Texas, and at the City Auditorium in Texarkana on December 28 with Jones. Enough time to buy a song from another artist".

Read more about it here: http://hillbillycountry.blogspot.com/2015/10/the-story-of-rock-n-roll-ruby.html

Any source for this track will be fine. There's very little difference in the sound quality from disc to disc on this demo recording.


Date: Apr 2, 1956
Location: Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN Producer: Sam Phillips
Label: Sun

a. Take 1 I WALK THE LINE - 2:38(J.R. Cash)
Charly LP 12"SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years   (1984)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958   (1990)
Charly CDCDSUNBOX 5 — The Sun Years    (1995)
b. U 191/7-39 - Take 2Master I WALK THE LINE - 2:43(J.R. Cash)
Sun LP 12"LP 1220 — With His Hot and Blue Guitar   (1957)
Sun LP 12"SLP 1235 — Sings The Songs That Made Him Famous   (1958)
Sun LP 12"SUN-2-118 — The Legend   (1970)
c. inc BRAKEMAN'S BLUES - 1:32(Jimmie Rodgers)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958   (1990)
Varese Sarabande CD302 066 487 2 — All Aboard the Blue Train    (2003)
Comet Records CDUV 165 — Open Road   (2006)
d. Take 1fs GET RHYTHM - 2:18(J.R. Cash)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
Sun/Cracker Barrel CDNo Cat # — The Sun Records Years    (2009)
e. Take 2 GET RHYTHM - 2:13(J.R. Cash)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
f. Take 3 GET RHYTHM - 2:13(J.R. Cash)
Charly LP 12"SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years   (1984)
Charly CDCDSUNBOX 5 — The Sun Years    (1995)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
g. Take 3a GET RHYTHM - 2:15(J.R. Cash)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958   (1990)
Columbia Legacy CDCSK 59266 — The Alternative Johnny Cash (Promo)   (2002)
Varese Sarabande CD302 066 488 2 — The Original Sun Sound of Johnny Cash    (2003)
Comet Records CDUV 165 — Open Road   (2006)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
Charly CDSNAJ 741 CDX — The Complete Sun Masters    (2008)
h. Take 4 GET RHYTHM(J.R. Cash)
unissued
i. U 190/7-20 - Take 5Master GET RHYTHM - 2:13(J.R. Cash)
Sun LP 12"SLP 1240 — Greatest!   (1959)
Design Records LP 12"DLP-610 — Story of a Broken Heart (Mono Edition)   (1962)
Sun LP 12"SUN-2-118 — The Legend   (1970)
j. TRAIN OF LOVE - 2:38(J.R. Cash)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958   (1990)
Columbia Legacy CDCSK 59266 — The Alternative Johnny Cash (Promo)   (2002)
Varese Sarabande CD302 066 487 2 — All Aboard the Blue Train    (2003)
k. THERE YOU GO(J.R. Cash)
unissued

I Walk The Line

a. I Walk the Line (Take 1): The first take of this classic song finds the band a bit tentative and playing the song at a slightly slower tempo than the groove established on the master take.

Most of the sources for this track sound decent with the version found on the Bear Family Outtakes collection and The Sun Records Years from Cracker Barrel (both use identical masters) probably the closest source, in my opinion, to the master tapes (even if it's a digital source). In my view, these were mastered just a touch too loud, but not compressed. I also like the version on the Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 369 2 — With His Hot and Blue Guitar (2002).

The versions found on the Charly and Snapper CD sets sound okay -- just not as sharp as the sources mentioned above.

b. I Walk the Line (U191/7-39 Take 2): There are a number of excellent sources to choose from what is one of Johnny Cash's most popular songs. I would suggest seeking this one out from one of the following sources: Rhino CD: R2 70950 — The Sun Years (1990), Sundazed CD: SC 11205 — Original Sun Singles '55-'58 (2009), Time/Life CD: 20803-P — The Complete Recordings 1955-1958 (2005), Columbia Legacy CD: CXK 93000 — The Legend (2005), Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 369 2 — With His Hot and Blue Guitar (2002), ORG Music / Cracker Barrel CD: ORGM-2010 — With His Hot and Blue Guitar (2014), Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — Sings the Songs That Made Him Famous (2010), Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — With His Hot and Blue Guitar (2010), and Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014).

Unless you're into the absolute obscure Sun releases, I'd suggest skipping this track on the 20 Super Hits CD from Bellaphon. Someone thought it would be a grand idea to add fake/canned crowd noise over the top of the studio recording and it's simply horrible.

I'd also recommend avoiding the track on RedX Entertainment CD: RXBOX31056 — The Great Johnny Cash (1999), any of the Collectables CD releases from 1998-99, the Music Club Deluxe CD: MCDLX128 — Rock and Roll Roots (2010), due to digital clicking at the beginning of the track, and the Sun / Victor Entertainment CD: VICP-65263 — The Original Johnny Cash (2014) (whoever compiled the set put way too much into the left channel and seemed to forget about the right channel all together). There are so many options out there for the listener to find a decent sounding version of this song that no one should settle for this track in poor quality.

I Walk the Line was overdubbed on November 22, 1957 and released on the Sings Hank Williams Sun LP. And yes, it's less than good. Stick with the original.


Brakeman's Blues

c. Brakeman's Blues (Incomplete take): This song was written and performed by Jimmie Rodgers - his initial version was recorded on February 14, 1928 and released on RCA Victor. Johnny Cash and the band attempted their version on April 2, 1956, but unfortunately they were never able to capture a complete take of the song. Found on just a handful of sources, we're left with an initial false start and an attempt that breaks down a little over a minute into the take.

Below is a listing of the sources that include Brakeman's Blues -- note that some include the false start while others do not. In addition, some sources fade out on Luther's stray guitar notes at the end of the tape, while others let it play through unfaded. All of the sources sound pretty similar and all sound very good, but if you're looking for one source that has the false start and an unfaded ending I'd suggest going with the Bear Family Records CD: BCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958 (1990).

Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014): No false start; Faded ending over closing guitar notes - Total Time 1:17
Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 487 2 — All Aboard the Blue Train (2003): No false start; Faded ending over closing guitar notes - Total Time 1:19
Columbia Legacy CD: 88697 60051 2 — From Memphis to Hollywood: Bootleg II (2011): Includes false start; Faded ending over closing guitar notes - Total Time 1:34
Bear Family Records CD: BCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes (2007): Includes false start; Faded ending over closing guitar notes - Total Time 1:34
Comet Records CD: UV 165 — Open Road (2006): Includes false start; Unfaded ending over closing guitar notes - Total Time 1:33
Charly CD: SNAJ 741 CDX — The Complete Sun Masters (2008): Includes false start; Unfaded ending over closing guitar notes - Total Time 1:34
Bear Family Records CD: BCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958 (1990): Includes false start; Unfaded ending over closing guitar notes - Total Time 1:35


Get Rhythm

d. Get Rhythm (False Start / Take 1): Both sources for this take use the exact same tape source -- even the peak readings are identical. For this reason, I would recommend using the Bear Family Records CD: BCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes (2007) as your source since the Outtakes set includes the initial false start (all :05 seconds of it) along with the complete take one. The Sun Records Years set from Cracker Barrel omits this short false start from their collection.

e. Get Rhythm (Take 2): The only source for take 2 is the Bear Family Records CD: BCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes (2007).

f. Get Rhythm (Take 3): The version found on Bear Family Records CD: BCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes (2007) is the most clear of all of the sources, but all are fine.

g. Get Rhythm (Take 3a): Due to an entry in the Bear Family Records CD: BCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958 (1990) box set, this take is often notated as being 'Take 3 -- microphone test'. This is incorrect.

This recording is not a microphone test at all, but instead a recording that would be looped through the Sun recording console to apply the famed 'Sun Echo' to the finished/mixed result.

The web site elvisrecordings.com (see Info > Elvis at SUN, An Overview of the Audio Restoration > Footnotes > Sun Tape Echo) states the following regarding this recording:

At least one example exists where the tape played the through loop survived as well as the mixed result recorded on the other machine. This example is for an outtake of Get Rhythm (Johnny Cash & The Tennessee Two), combining a Bear Family source erroneously labelled "mike test" (actually #1: the reverb tape) with a Charly Box source (#2: the mixed result of the same take).

Johnny Cash could apply enough pressure on the strings with his left hand to damp the tones of his acoustic guitar (not necessarily done with paper/dollar bills attached to the strings as the story goes - video proof from 1957 exists). Mixed with bass slaps, delay, compression etc., it sounds like a train moving. In this example the vocals would be delayed as well:

1 = Dry as found on Bear-Family Box, vocals + acoustic guitar (other instruments bleeding slightly)
2 = Quickly added compression+delay to the dry track-just as an example-not the right proportions
3 = The result as found on a Charly Box
4 = [Left=3, Right=2]

Assume a distance between the recording and playback head of 4 inches and echo tape speeds of
7.5 ips: Delay = 4/7.5 = 0.53 seconds (most likely the most common echo tape speed).
15 ips: Delay = 4/15 = 0.27 seconds (When It Rains It Really Pours).
(Update July 2004: 7.5 ips as the common speed of the echo tape machine has been confirmed by Roland Janes of Sam Phillips studio - thanks!)

So the distance between heads would correspond to the longer path if the wet signal is delayed with about half a second (7.5 ips).

Speed of sound at 25 centigrades (77 F): 347 m/s. It would take a distance of 180 metres to get the same delay (as 7.5 ips) that way. This means that it would be difficult to measure if a signal was recorded twice from both amplifier and microphones in a studio, but on the other hand the delay ought to be too small to be worth that extra procedure. One can but wonder if RCA thought of this in January 1956 when Heartbreak Hotel was recorded - perhaps they found out the hard way when they had to use the stairwell eventually.

In the case of the Johnny Cash example, the delay applied to the microphone picking up Johnny's voice and guitar only. Although this was the most typical setup with the Cash recordings, the Elvis Presley recordings sometimes used delay of other microphones. Probably forgotten by now, That's All Right was actually recorded and released entirely dry using just one tape machine. In late 1955 RCA added echo to it during transfer of originally received SUN Tape Box #2. Unfortunately Box #2 was one of the tapes destroyed in Indianapolis after 1957 so no tape source of the original, dry That's All Right is thought to exist anymore. However, the released outtakes from Tape Box #13 as well as the original 78/45 of SUN 209 reveal the original, dry sound. We can guess that there wasn't time to set up the two machines and this adds credit to the story about the July 5 session being planned as just a rehearsal. On one of the following days, Blue Moon of Kentucky seems to have been recorded with full reverb, but it's hard to tell since it appears to have been processed afterwards as well. Perhaps further echo was added by Bill Putnam during mastering.


Therefore, this recording (labeled as 'Take 3a' in this sessionography' is actually part of what would be used to create the full result as found on the Charly CDCDSUNBOX 5 — The Sun Years (1995) box set (i.e. Take 3).

In the past, this so called 'microphone test' was given it's own take (Take 3) and the fully realized recording was given its own entry and labeled as Take 4 (with an unreleased take assigned as 'Take 5' and the master take labeled as 'Take 6').

This sessionography will differ from others that are online since I am no longer assigning the previously labeled 'micrphone test' its own unique numbered take.

Previous sessionographies would label the 'Get Rhythm' session as follows (with one example of a source and the new assignment in this sessionography):

Take 1 / FS: Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes (2007) / New: still Take 1
Take 2: Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes (2007) / New: still Take 2
Take 3 (mic test): Bear Family Records CDBCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958 (1990) New: Take 3a
Take 4: Charly CDCDSUNBOX 5 — The Sun Years (1995) / New: Take 3
Take 5: Unissued / New: Take 4
Take 6 (Master): Columbia Legacy (Pono/Qobuz) FLACNo Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014) / New: Take 5 (Master)

i. Get Rhythm (U190/7-20 Take 5): This is the master take and is available on dozens and dozens of compilations. There are a number that sound good, but my favorites are Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 442 2 — Greatest! (2003), Sundazed CD: SC 11205 — Original Sun Singles '55-'58 (2009), Columbia Legacy CD: CXK 93000 — The Legend (2005), Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — Greatest! (2010), Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014), and Bear Family Records CD: BCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958 (1990). You'll find that the bass is very upfront on Columbia's The Legend (2005) box set -- much more so than other sources. It's not bad or good -- just different.

Some sources to avoid are Bellaphon CD: 288 13 003 — 20 Super Hits (1988), RedX Entertainment CD: RXBOX31056 — The Great Johnny Cash (1999), Sun/Cracker Barrel CD: No Cat # — The Sun Records Years (2009), and Reader's Digest / Sun CD: SSTC05536 — The Complete Early Hits Collection (2006). You'll find that these either have a strange faux stereo effect or shound hissy or just plan odd to the ear! The 'stereo' effect on the Sun LP 12": SQBO-93213 — The Greatness of Johnny Cash (1971) is a bit more subtle and seems to throw a bit of echo to the left stereo channel.

Stick with the usual suspects when you need to Get Rhythm!


Train Of Love

j. Train Of Love (Alternate): April 2, 1956 was a pretty good day at the office for Mr. Cash. Not only did he cut a master for I Walk the Line, but he also put Get Rhythm in the bag and worked on early versions of Train of Love and There You Go. We should all be so successful!

If forced to choose one source for this early take, I'd definitely go with the digital download on Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014). That being said, all of the other sources, except The Sun Records Years from Cracker Barrel, sound just fine. Disc three of The Cracker Barrel set seems to use the same tape sources as found on the Bear Family Outtakes set -- but not on this track for whatever reason. The peak levels do not match between the two sets and the version on the Cracker Barrel set sounds further removed from the master when compared to the other sources.

It's worth noting that the promo release Columbia Legacy CD: CSK 59266 — The Alternative Johnny Cash (2002) states that the recording date for this alternate take was August 8, 1956.


Date: May 8, 1956
Location: Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN Producer: Sam Phillips
Label: Sun

a. Take 1 TRAIN OF LOVE - 2:16(J.R. Cash)
Charly LP 12"SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years   (1984)
Charly CDCD Charly 146 — His Top Hits 1955 to 1958 Recordings    (1988)
Charly CDCDSUNBOX 5 — The Sun Years    (1995)
b. Take 2 TRAIN OF LOVE(J.R. Cash)
unissued
c. U 222/7-45 - Take 3Master TRAIN OF LOVE - 2:22(J.R. Cash)
Sun LP 12"SLP 1235 — Sings The Songs That Made Him Famous   (1958)
Sun LP 12"DT 91458 (Canadian Capitol Recd Club Edition) — All Aboard the Blue Train   (1962)
Sun LP 12"LP 1270 — All Aboard the Blue Train   (1962)
d. Take 1 THERE YOU GO(J.R. Cash)
unissued
e. U 226/7-42 - Take 2Master THERE YOU GO - 2:16(J.R. Cash)
Sun LP 12"SLP 1235 — Sings The Songs That Made Him Famous   (1958)
Sun LP 12"DT 91458 (Canadian Capitol Recd Club Edition) — All Aboard the Blue Train   (1962)
Sun LP 12"LP 1270 — All Aboard the Blue Train   (1962)

Train Of Love

a. Train Of Love (Take 1): In all honesty, this take could be either one or two. Some discographies have shown the alternate take from April 2, 1956 along with three takes from May 8, 1956, but I've only been able to find three unique takes of Train Of Love: the alternate from April and two takes from this session in May. If there's a third take in circulation from this May session, it's safe to assume that it would share a similar arrangement to the two other known takes from May -- and I haven't been able to find it.

I believe that older sessionographies simply made the error of assigning the April take to both the April and May sessions for Train Of Love and that only the three takes truly circulate.

Attempting to decide if the take that you have is take 1 or take 3 isn't easy, but I'd suggest looking at the track times. Take 1 is usually shorter and if listen from the start of the track until the music fades out, you should see that take 1 usually runs about 2 minutes and 17 seconds. Take 3 is a bit longer and runs about 2 minutes and 21 seconds.

One other obvious item that will assist you in sourcing the track is the short musical section between the first and second lines of verse two. After Johnny sings the line "Now stop your whistle blowin', 'cause I've got ways of knowin'" and before he sings the first word of the second line ("Your bringin' other people's lovers, but my own keeps goin'"), if you're listening to take 1, you'll hear what sounds like someone making a short run with their fingers on what I believe to be a washboard. Take 3, in this same section of the songs, does not have this "wooden" washboard sound.

For this "take 1", I'd recommend seeking this out from either the Charly CD: CD Charly 146 — His Top Hits 1955 to 1958 Recordings (1988) or the Bear Family Records CD: BCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes (2007). Both sound good with the Outtakes version mastered a bit louder.

If you're collecting the kitchen sink when it comes to Johnny's Sun recordings, you'll also need to seek out the version on the Charly LP 12": SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years (1984). They have included a cough that was caught on tape just prior to the beginning of the take. It's only :03 seconds, but if you have to have everything, you have to have this too!

Avoid the version found on the RedX Entertainment CD: RXBOX31056 — The Great Johnny Cash (1999).

c. Train Of Love (U222/7-45 Take 3): The master take and a classic at that.

In order to find a good sounding Train Of Love you have to find a version with a bit of tape hiss. I'd recommend the Bear Family Records CD: BCD 15247 — Up Through the Years 1955-1957 (1986), Bear Family Records CD: BCD 16820 AH — Traveling Cash: An Imaginary Journey (2006), Sundazed CD: SC 11205 — Original Sun Singles '55-'58 (2009), Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — Sings the Songs That Made Him Famous (2010), Time/Life CD: 20803-P — The Complete Recordings 1955-1958 (2005), Bear Family Records CD: BCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958 (1990), and Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014).

HD Tracks also has a version available on the All Aboard the Blue Train download, but it fades slightly earlier than the version on the Sings the Songs That Made Him Famous download -- and some of the hiss has been removed (Noise Reduction? Perhaps).

Outside of a little noise reduction, most sources are acceptable if you don't have a discerning ear (and don't have the track on one of the many compilations from Bear Family, Varese Sarabande, or those noted above).


There You Go

e. There You Go (U226/7-42 Take 2): The master take and the only take available of this song. It was previously attempted on April 2, 1956, but that take does not circulate (if it exists at all). Take 1, from this May session that captured the master take, also has yet to be released.

This track is on a ton of compilations so finding a good sounding version should be easy. You'll want to note that there's something going on with the bass at about the :03 mark and continuing on for a few seconds. I'm not sure if it's the EQ or simply distortion on the master tape, but some sources do a better job than others of lessening this 'noise'.

I'd recommend any of the following sources for this take: Bear Family Records CD: BCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958 (1990), Time/Life CD: 20803-P — The Complete Recordings 1955-1958 (2005), Columbia Legacy CD: CXK 93000 — The Legend (2005), Bear Family Records CD: BCD 16820 AH — Traveling Cash: An Imaginary Journey (2006), Sundazed CD: SC 11205 — Original Sun Singles '55-'58 (2009), Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — Sings the Songs That Made Him Famous (2010), and Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014). I've found that the master takes for the Sun material is best represented on a number of the 'usual suspects' -- most of the Bear Family sets, Time/Life, Sundazed, HD Tracks, the Columbia Legacey 2014 download, etc. Stick to the common sets for this material and you'll usually have a fine sounding version.


Date: Oct 1, 1956
Location: Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN Producer: Sam Phillips
Label: Sun

a. bd ONE MORE RIDE - 0:50(Bob Nolan)
Charly LP 12"SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years   (1984)
Charly CDCDSUNBOX 5 — The Sun Years    (1995)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
Charly CDSNAJ 741 CDX — The Complete Sun Masters    (2008)
Columbia Legacy (Pono/Qobuz) FLACNo Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun   (2014)
b. Outfake ONE MORE RIDE - 1:28(Bob Nolan)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958   (1990)
Varese Sarabande CD302 066 488 2 — The Original Sun Sound of Johnny Cash    (2003)
Comet Records CDUV 165 — Open Road   (2006)

a. One More Ride (Breakdown): A great rollicking number that unfortunately breaks down about :50 seconds into the take. This track sounds great, as recorded at Sun Records, and this snippet is the only reminder of what could have been. Johnny Cash would rerecord this track for Columbia LP "The Fabulous Johnny Cash" (Nov. 1958), but it's a bit slick for my taste -- especially when compared to the Sun recording.

Get this one on either Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014) or Bear Family Records CD: BCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes (2007). Personally, I prefer the mastering on the Johnny Cash at Sun download.

b. One More Ride (Outfake/Edit): One More Ride (b) is an extended edit of One More Ride (a). The extended edit repeats a portion of the original take (a) before it comes to the normal breakdown. The edit can be heard at about :42 seconds into the recording. I'm unsure if this outfake/edit was created for an actual Sun release (in an attempt to squeeze out one more 'song') or if this was created by someone else long after the track was recorded. It doesn't really work in any sense of the word.

If you have to have this one any source will do.

Note 1: In December 2014, Rockbeat Records and Sun Entertainment announced the upcoming release of a 7 disc deluxe set entitled "The Complete Sun Session" -- which was to include 5 CDs of largely Sun studio recordings, one live disc, and a DVD. It was noted that CD2 would include a version of One More Ride labeled as "Incomplete Take 2". This set also was including the incomplete take and the extended version noted above -- so this "Incomplete Take 2" could be a recording that has previously not circulated. I have not included this incomplete take in the sessionography above since it hasn't been confirmed if it's truly something that is unknown to collectors. Unfortunately, this deluxe set was shelved due to a dispute over the ownership of Johnny's unreleased Sun recordings that were set to be included in this set.

Note 2: A full live version from the Sun recording era can be found on the Columbia Legacy CD: 88697 60051 2 — From Memphis to Hollywood: Bootleg II (2011). The track was recorded at KWEN Radio on May 21, 1955.

Note 3: If you have the One More Ride fever, takes 1 - 12 of the Columbia recording were included on disc 5 of the Bear Family Records CD: BCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958 (1990).


Date: Possibly December 13, 1956
Location: Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN Producer: Sam Phillips
Label: Sun

a. Take 1 I LOVE YOU BECAUSE - 2:28(Leon Payne)
Charly LP 12"SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years   (1984)
Castle Communications CDCCSCD 146 — The Johnny Cash Collection   (1986)
ARC Records CDTOP CD 521 — Home of the Blues   (1987)
b. Take 2 I LOVE YOU BECAUSE(Leon Payne)
unissued
c. GOODBYE, LITTLE DARLIN'(Gene Autry, Johnny Marvin)
unissued
d. U 386/7-48 - Take 1Master STRAIGHT A's IN LOVE - 2:14(J.R. Cash)
Sun LP 12"SLP 1245 — Sings Hank Williams   (1960)
Sun LP 12"Sun 122 — Rough Cut King of Country Music   (1970)
Hilltop (Pickwick) LP 12"JS 6097 — I Walk The Line   (1971)
e. Take 2 STRAIGHT A's IN LOVE(J.R. Cash)
unissued

I Love You Because

a. I Love You Because (Take 1): This is the undubbed master take that would later be overdubbed with a vocal group arrangement (see Unknown Date #4 session).

Most of the sources for this take sound pretty good (avoid The Great Johnny Cash set from RedX) and I would recommend seeking this out on the Time/Life CD: 20803-P — The Complete Recordings 1955-1958 (2005), Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 214 2 — Roads Less Travelled (2001), Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 464 2 — Sings Hank Williams (2003), and Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014).


Goodbye, Little Darlin'

c. Goodbye, Little Darlin' is currently unissued, but was overdubbed and released with a vocal group arrangement -- See the Unknown Date #4 session.

In December 2014, Rockbeat Records and Sun Entertainment announced the upcoming release of a 7 disc deluxe set entitled "The Complete Sun Session" -- which was to include 5 CDs of largely Sun studio recordings, one live disc, and a DVD. It was noted that CD2 would include a version of Goodbye, Little Darlin' labeled as "unreleased alternate take". The undubbed version of this track has never circulalated, according to my research, and it's possible that this track would have been the first release without overdubs (although we can't confirm if this would have been the undubbed master recording). The Pledge Mustic set was also going to include the master take which would have likely been the commonly available overdubbed version. I have not updated the sessionography with data on this track since it cannot be confirmed that it is truly a previously uncirculated take. Unfortunately, this deluxe set was shelved due to a dispute over the ownership of Johnny's unreleased Sun recordings that were set to be included in this set.

Straight A's In Love

d. Straight A's In Love (U386/7-48 Take 1): This is the master take that was included on the Sun LP Johnny Cash Sings Hank Williams. The LP version includes a heavy drenching of reverb and this version, instead of the "dry" version (see below), is the one that is most commonly found on compilations of Johnny's Sun recordings.

If you're looking for the best sounding take with reverb, I'd recommend Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — Sings Hank Williams (2010), Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 056 2 — The Complete Original Sun Singles (1999), Charly CD: SNAJ 706 CD — His Sun Years (2001), and the Bear Family Records CD: BCD 15247 — Up Through the Years 1955-1957 (1986).

Avoid the versions on The Entertainers CD: CD 208 — His 30 Greatest Hits (1996), Chicago Music Company CD: CMR-94-108 — Lonesome Me (1994), RedX Entertainment CD: RXBOX31056 — The Great Johnny Cash (1999), and Charly CD: CDCD 1154 — Guess Things Happen That Way (1994).

The "dry" version (sans reverb) of Straight A's In Love is less common but can found on some of the more popular sets from Time/Life, Bear Family, and Varese Sarabande.

You'll find the "dry" version on the following compilations:

Demon Music Group (DMG) CD: LEGENDS021 — 100 Hits Legends (2011)
AP Music CD: AUPCD4007 — The Best of Johnny Cash 101: I Walk The Line (2014)
Entertainment Supplies CD: ES19003 — The Best of the Sun Years (2012)
Bear Family Records CD: BCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958 (1990)
Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 464 2 — Sings Hank Williams (2003)
Time/Life CD: 20803-P — The Complete Recordings 1955-1958 (2005)
Union Square Music CD: METRTCD805 — Walking the Line: The Legendary Sun Recordings (2005)
Comet Records CD: UV 165 — Open Road (2006)
Music Club Deluxe CD: MCDLX128 — Rock and Roll Roots (2010)
Union Square Music CD: METRSV002 — The Essential Collection (Sound and Vision) (2012)
Union Square Music CD: SIMPTNCD006 — Simply Johnny Cash (2014)
Not Now Music CD: NOT2CD551 — The Sun Singles Collection (2014)
Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014)
Acrobat Music CD: ACTRCD9054 — The Complete Sun Releases and Columbia Singles (2015)

I tend to prefer the mastering on the Time/Life Complete Recordings (2005) set and the Johnny Cash at Sun (2014) download, but all of the sources for the "dry" version sound similar. You really can't go wrong no matter the source.


Date: Unknown Date #4 (1956)
Location: Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN Producer: Sam Phillips or Jack Clement
Label: Sun
Overdub Session

a. U 387/7-38 OverdubbedMaster I LOVE YOU BECAUSE - 2:28(Leon Payne)
Sun LP 12"SLP 1245 — Sings Hank Williams   (1960)
Sun LP 12"SQBO-93213 — The Greatness of Johnny Cash   (1971)
Flash CDCDF 8835-2 — Johnny Cash   (1989)
b. U 379/7-57 OverdubbedMaster GOODBYE, LITTLE DARLIN' - 2:13(Gene Autry, Johnny Marvin)
Sun LP 12"SLP 1240 — Greatest!   (1959)
Sun LP 12"DT 91458 (Canadian Capitol Recd Club Edition) — All Aboard the Blue Train   (1962)
Sun LP 12"LP 1270 — All Aboard the Blue Train   (1962)
Both titles on: Bear Family Records CDBCD 15247 — Up Through the Years 1955-1957    (1986)
Big Country CD2430712 — 18 Original Hits   (1988)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958   (1990)

I Love You Because

a. I Love You Because (U387/7-38 Overdubbed): Includes, in my opinion, some of the worst overdubbed vocals found on Johnny's Sun material. The caterwauling from the female at the end of the song gives me a headache just about every time ("But most of all / I love you / Cause you're youuuuuuu"). Just awful.

I would avoid the CeDe International CD: CD 66142 — Hey Good Lookin' Volume 3 (1993) since it seemed to fall out of being a mono recording and most of the sound is pushed to the right channel. It just sounds poor. You'll also want to avoid the following two sources since the opening guitar note is clipped: Collectables CD: COL 6431 — The Singing Storyteller & The Rough Cut King of Country Music (1999) and Record Sales CD: No Cat # — Johnny Collection Volumes 1 – 4 (2003). I also find the version on the Charly CD: SNAJ 741 CDX — The Complete Sun Masters (2008) to be pretty muddy compared to the better sounding sources.

There are a number of good sounding versions of the overdubbed version of I Love You Because. I'd recommend any of the following: Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — Sings Hank Williams (2010), Bear Family Records CD: BCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958 (1990), Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 056 2 — The Complete Original Sun Singles (1999), Bear Family Records CD: BCD 15247 — Up Through the Years 1955-1957 (1986), and Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014).


Goodbye, Little Darlin'

b. Goodbye, Little Darlin' (U379/7-57 Overdubbed): Much more subtle backing vocals were used on this Gene Autry classic. Unfortunately the undubbed version has yet to receive an official release (an alternate version (which is hopefully the undubbed version) was scheduled to be included in the 5 CD "Complete Sun Sessions" box set through Pledge Music, but that set has yet to see the light of day).

I would avoid the version on Charly CD: CDCD 1154 — Guess Things Happen That Way (1994) (which is one of the worst release Charly has ever put their name on) and CeDe International CD: CD 66142 — Hey Good Lookin' Volume 3 (1993).

I hear a bit of slight reverb on the versions found on the Sun LP 12" LP 1270 — All Aboard the Blue Train (1961), Hallmark (UK) CD: 700532 — I Walk The Line (2005), Galaxy CD3884182 — 18 Golden Hits (1993), and Sun LP 12": 6641008 — The Man, The World, His Music (1971). It's subtle and nicely done, but I'm not sure if this originates from the time of the original recording or if it was altered after Johnny left the label. I'm not hearing this slight reverb on any of the Sun LPs released through HD Tracks.

There are a number of great sounding copies of this track and I'd recommend any of the following: Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — All Aboard the Blue Train (2010), Time/Life CD: 20803-P — The Complete Recordings 1955-1958 (2005), Columbia Legacy CD: CXK 93000 — The Legend (2005) Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — Greatest! (2010), Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 056 2 — The Complete Original Sun Singles (1999), and Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014).


Date: Apr 4, 1957
Location: Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN Producer: Sam Phillips
Label: Sun

a. fs DON'T MAKE ME GO - 0:18(J.R. Cash)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
b. Take 1fs DON'T MAKE ME GO - 2:51(J.R. Cash)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958   (1990)
Varese Sarabande CD302 066 214 2 — Roads Less Travelled   (2001)
Varese Sarabande CD302 066 441 2 — Sings the Songs That Made Him Famous    (2003)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
c. Take 2 DON'T MAKE ME GO - 2:31(J.R. Cash)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958   (1990)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
d. Take 3 DON'T MAKE ME GO - 2:34(J.R. Cash)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
e. fs DON'T MAKE ME GO - 0:42(J.R. Cash)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
f. Take 4 DON'T MAKE ME GO - 2:27(J.R. Cash)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
g. Take 5 DON'T MAKE ME GO - 2:39(J.R. Cash)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
Charly CDSNAJ 741 CDX — The Complete Sun Masters    (2008)
h. U 244/7-43 - Take 6Master DON'T MAKE ME GO - 2:28(J.R. Cash)
Sun LP 12"SLP 1235 — Sings The Songs That Made Him Famous   (1958)
Sun LP 12"SUN-2-118 — The Legend   (1970)
Sagittarius Recording Company LP 12"OTD 8025 — Truck Stop Favorites   (1982)
i. inc DON'T MAKE ME GO - 1:38(J.R. Cash)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
j. Take 7 DON'T MAKE ME GO - 2:33(J.R. Cash)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
k. Take 8 DON'T MAKE ME GO - 2:48(J.R. Cash)
Charly LP 12"SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years   (1984)
Charly CDCPCD 8101 — Folsom Prison Blues (The Original Sun Hits)   (1995)
Charly CDCDSUNBOX 5 — The Sun Years    (1995)
Snapper Music CDSMDCD 213 — The Essential Sun Collection    (1999)
Charly CDSNAP 174 CD — The Sun Hits   (2004)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
l. Take 9 DON'T MAKE ME GO - 2:28(J.R. Cash)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
m. Take 1 NEXT IN LINE(J.R. Cash)
unissued
n. Take 2 NEXT IN LINE(J.R. Cash)
unissued
o. U 245/7-34 - Take 3Master NEXT IN LINE - 2:46(J.R. Cash)
Sun LP 12"SLP 1235 — Sings The Songs That Made Him Famous   (1958)
Sun LP 12"SUN-2-118 — The Legend   (1970)
Hilltop (Pickwick) LP 12"JS-6118 — Big River   (1972)

Don't Make Me Go

a. Don't Make Go (False Start): Timing in at about :18 seconds, this short false start is only available on the Bear Family Records CD: BCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes (2007).

b. Don't Make Go (False Start / Take 1): This recording opens with a false start that lasts until approximately :23 seconds into the take. The band gathers itself and makes it though a full take which is labeled as take 1. All four sources that offer this recording sound good, but the version on Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 441 2 — Sings the Songs That Made Him Famous (2003) does not include the false start -- it only includes the full take 1.

c. Don't Make Me Go (Take 2): Another full take of the song. Available on two sources from Bear Family and both sound fine. I'd give the edge to the Bear Family Outtakes set if forced to choose.

d. Don't Make Me Go (Take 3): This take is only available on the Bear Family Records CD: BCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes (2007).

e. Don't Make Me Go (False Start): Timing in at about :43 seconds, this short false start is only available on the Bear Family Records CD: BCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes (2007).

f. Don't Make Me Go (Take 4): The claps at the start of the take are a bit more prominent than on other takes. This take is only available on the Bear Family Records CD: BCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes (2007).

g. Don't Make Me Go (Take 5): Yet another full take of the song and only available from two different sources. I'd recommend grabbing this one from the Bear Family Outtakes set (2007).

h. Don't Make Me Go (U244/7-43 Take 6): The master take. The placement of this as take 6 (among all of the other takes) has never made sense to me. All you have to do is listen. This take opens with an acoustic guitar and has a much more polished arrangement than the numerous other takes presented before and after it. All of the other outtakes, except take 6, open with an electric guitar! Take 6 was either recorded later in the session (after the powers that be had a chance to lock down the arrangment and the tempo of the song) or perhaps even on another day. We all know that assigning correct take numbers to Johnny's Sun material is a guessing game at best, but it's pretty obvious to me that this take belongs somewhere else in his sessionography. For now, I'll go along with everyone else and leave it as-is.

This master take has appeared on dozens of compilations and I'd recommend finding it on the Bear Family Records CD: BCD 16820 AH — Traveling Cash: An Imaginary Journey (2006), Sundazed CD: SC 11205 — Original Sun Singles '55-'58 (2009), Time/Life CD: 20803-P — The Complete Recordings 1955-1958 (2005), Charly CD: CD Charly 146 — His Top Hits 1955 to 1958 Recordings (1988), Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — Sings the Songs That Made Him Famous (2010), and Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014).

i. Don't Make Me Go (Aborted Take): Another take that is aborted about 1:40 into the recording. Also only available on the Bear Family Outtakes set (2007).

j. Don't Make Me Go (Take 7): Another full take from the sessions.

k. Don't Make Me Go (Take 8): The band is almost getting this arrangement together, but it still sounds a little rough to me. Take 8 is available on a handful of different compilations and the track ends on all versions at approximately 2:33 -- followed by :13 seconds of random bass notes and light studio chatter. The only sources that does not include this additional studio chatter and coughs at the end of the track is the Charly CD: CPCD 8101 — Folsom Prison Blues (The Original Sun Hits) (1995) and Charly CD: SNAP 174 CD — The Sun Hits (2004).

The odd thing about the studio chatter found at the end of a few of these sources is that the coughs vary -- you read that right, the coughs aren't the same between two sources.

The Bear Family Outtakes set has the studio chatter at the end of the track with one cough. Three other sources feature this same studio chatter, but with three distinct coughs. I'm sure this difference is due to a new edit being created for the Outtakes set, but it's still odd nonetheless. To sum it up for you:

One cough:

Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes (2007)

Three coughs:

Charly LP 12"SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years (1984)
Charly CDCDSUNBOX 5 — The Sun Years (1995)
Snapper Music CDSMDCD 213 — The Essential Sun Collection (1999)

No Cough:

Charly CDCPCD 8101 — Folsom Prison Blues (The Original Sun Hits) (1995)
Charly CDSNAP 174 CD — The Sun Hits (2004)

I'd still stick with the Outtakes set (2007) for this version of the full song -- it's more clear than the other sources -- but be sure to grab the studio chatter at the end of two of the sources if you have to have it all.

l. Don't Make Me Go (Take 9): If you're looking for a version of Don't Make Me Go that opens with the electric guitar, you'd probably end up choosing between take 8 and take 9. I'd likely recommend take 9 -- although the band never seems to get the tempo right with any of the versions that open with electric guitar. Take 9 is only available on the Bear Family Outtakes set (2007).

To make it easier for people to match up the tracks on the Bear Family Outtakes set (2007), here's a guide to which track corresponds to each take listed above:

a. False Start - Disc 1 Track 24
b. False Start / Take 1 - Disc 1 Track 25
c. Take 2 - Disc 1 Track 26
d. Take 3 - Disc 1 Track 27
e. False Start - Disc 1 Track 28
f. Take 4 - Disc 1 Track 29
g. Take 5 - Disc 1 Track 30
i. Incomplete/Aborted Take - Disc 1 Track 23
j. Take 7 - Disc 1 Track 31
k Take 8 - Disc 1 Track 32
l. Take 9 - Disc 1 Track 33


Next In Line

o. Next In Line (U245/7-34 Take 3): Released as a single in April 1957 and backed with Don't Make Me Go (see above).

You'll want to avoid this song on Bellaphon CD: 288 13 003 — 20 Super Hits (1988), RedX Entertainment CD: RXBOX31056 — The Great Johnny Cash (1999), and Sun/Cracker Barrel CD: No Cat # — The Sun Records Years (2009) . As is the case with a number of song on the Charly LP 12": SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years (1984), the tracks runs a bit fast when compared to other sources.

I'd recommend this track on the following compilations: Rhino CD: R2 70950 — The Sun Years (1990), Sundazed CD: SC 11205 — Original Sun Singles '55-'58 (2009), Time/Life CD: 20803-P — The Complete Recordings 1955-1958 (2005), Charly CD: CD Charly 146 — His Top Hits 1955 to 1958 Recordings (1988), Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — Sings the Songs That Made Him Famous (2010), and Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014).

Next In Line was overdubbed on November 22, 1957 and released on the Sings Hank Williams Sun LP.


Date: Jul 1, 1957
Location: Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN Producer: Jack Clement
Label: Sun

a. Take 1fs HOME OF THE BLUES - 2:48(J.R. Cash, G. Douglas, L. McAlpin)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958   (1990)
Varese Sarabande CD302 066 468 2 — Now Here's Johnny Cash    (2003)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
b. Take 2 HOME OF THE BLUES(J.R. Cash, G. Douglas, L. McAlpin)
unissued
c. Take 3 HOME OF THE BLUES(J.R. Cash, G. Douglas, L. McAlpin)
unissued
d. Take 1 GIVE MY LOVE TO ROSE - 2:39(J.R. Cash)
Charly LP 12"SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years   (1984)
Charly CDCD CHARLY 18 — Country Boy   (1986)
Charly CDCDSUNBOX 5 — The Sun Years    (1995)
e. Take 2 GIVE MY LOVE TO ROSE - 2:46(J.R. Cash)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
Sun/Cracker Barrel CDNo Cat # — The Sun Records Years    (2009)
f. Take 3fs GIVE MY LOVE TO ROSE - 3:08(J.R. Cash)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958   (1990)
Varese Sarabande CD302 066 487 2 — All Aboard the Blue Train    (2003)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
Sun/Cracker Barrel CDNo Cat # — The Sun Records Years    (2009)
g. Take 4 GIVE MY LOVE TO ROSE(J.R. Cash)
unissued
h. Take 5Master GIVE MY LOVE TO ROSE - 2:43(J.R. Cash)
Charly LP 12"SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years   (1984)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 15247 — Up Through the Years 1955-1957    (1986)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958   (1990)

Home of the Blues

a. Many sessionographies will show entries for takes 1 and 2 of the undubbed Home of the Blues. After some detailed listening, I believe that these are incorrect.

In most cases, it seemed that the 'take 1' tag was given to the version found on the Bear Family Records CD: BCD 17311 FK — Sun Country Box 1950-1959 (2013). This track includes a false start and a complete take. The false start includes the break down of the initial guitar run as performed by Luther Perkins and no studio chatter.

'Take 2' was assigned to the complete take that included a different false start that again includes the break down of the opening guitar run and then a comment from Johnny Cash to Luther Perkins after Perkins flubs the opening guitar run. Johnny says, "A Little Faster Luther".

The first false start which features the break down after the opening guitar run and includes NO studio chatter can be found on the Bear Family Records CD: BCD 17311 FK — Sun Country Box 1950-1959 (2013), but take note that the false start is tracked on the CD and download to appear at the end of the track previous to Home of the Blues, Train of Love. So if you have to have it all, you can download the lossless track from Qobuz, but you'll need to buy the two tracks to get the false start and take 1!

The second false start also includes a break down during the opening guitar run and Johnny saying, "A little faster Luther," and is found on the following compilations: Bear Family Records CD: BCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958 (1990) and Bear Family Records CD: BCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes (2007). The Sun/Cracker Barrel CD: No Cat # — The Sun Records Years (2009) contains a few seconds of studio noise prior to the full take and is sourced from the same tapes used for the two Bear Family releases mentioned above.

My theory is that these two false starts were in the vault and made available to Bear Family when they were compiling their various sets. They simply grafted both false starts to the same full take of Home of the Blues. So what we could have here is two different false starts to Home of the Blues and only one complete (undubbed) take of the track. I've lined up the wav forms and they do appear to synch up and I can't find any section of the song that is unique (a guitar note, lyric difference, etc) that would easily show a difference between the various sources for take 1. If anyone would like to comment on this theory please send me a note.

Going forward, I consider all of the sources listed under Take 1 to include the same full take of the track, but with the differing false starts as noted above.

c. Home of the Blues (Take 3) is unissued but was overdubbed on July 31 and August 1, 1957. The version from July 31 remains unissued, but the version from August 1 can be found on numerous compilations. If you queue up a recording of Take 1 and compare it to the overdubbed take, you can hear that they are truly different takes of the song. The overdubbed take is about 10 seconds shorter, but Johnny's phrasing on the word "users" in the line "Down the street that losers use" differs between the two takes. On take 1, his vocal seems to go up on "u SER s" and it stays steady or declines a bit on the overdubbed version. In addition, listen to the line at approximately :51 into each track. On take one, Johnny sings "It's dark in the home of the blues" while on the overdubbed version he sings "It's dark at the home of the blues." This is definitive proof that a take, different from take one, was indeed used for the overdub on August 1.

It is also worth noting that the instrumental section that runs from 1:43 to 2:01 on the overdubbed take, runs a bit longer on the undubbed take 1 -- it runs from 1:43 to 2:07. So possibly they made corrections to the arrangement to tighten it up a bit as they recorded additional (undubbed) takes of the track.

The undubbed take (take 3?) used for this overdub session remains unreleased.


Give My Love To Rose

d. Give My Love To Rose (Take 1): To identify take 1, listen for the use of the word 'please' in the line "God bless you for finding me this morning, please don't forget..." starting at 2:03. Also listen to the way the word 'mister' is phrased when the line "give my love to rose please won't you mister" from 2:11 to 2:15.

e. Give My Love To Rose (Take 2): Take 2 uses the word 'now' instead of 'please' in the line "God bless you for finding me this morning, NOW don't forget..." starting at 2:05. In addition, the final four guitar chords that close the song are all evenly played.

f. Give My Love To Rose (Take 3): This take also uses the word 'now' instead of please in the line "God bless you for finding me this morning, NOW don't forget..." -- much like take 2. The easiest way to identify take 3 from take 2 is to listen to the closing guitar notes. It has the same four closing chords, but there's a slight pause between the third and fourth chord that sets it apart from take 2. Listen to them back-to-back and you should easily be able to tell the difference.

The following two sources also include an :18 second false start before the full take 3: Bear Family Records CD: BCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958 (1990) and Bear Family Records CD: BCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes (2007).

h. Give My Love To Rose (Take 5): The master take and a classic. For whatever reason, this recording (when it hasn't had noise reduction applied to it) has always had a good amount of hiss.

The master take is easy to identify -- it's the only take of the song in which Johnny waits to sing the word "Rose" on the fourth and final guitar note at the very end of the song. In all of the previous takes, there is not pause as he sings the final "Give my love to Rose" to close out the song.

I'd recommend picking it up from one of the following sources: Rhino CD: R2 70950 — The Sun Years (1990), Bear Family Records CD: BCD 16820 AH — Traveling Cash: An Imaginary Journey (2006), Sundazed CD: SC 11205 — Original Sun Singles '55-'58 (2009), Time/Life CD: 20803-P — The Complete Recordings 1955-1958 (2005), Columbia Legacy CD: CXK 93000 — The Legend (2005), and Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014).

This master take was overdubbed on July 31, 1957 and initially released on the Sings Hank Williams Sun LP.


Date: Possibly Summer 1957
Location: Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN Producer: Sam Phillips
Label: Sun

a. 7-59 ROCK ISLAND LINE - 2:10(Arranged by John R. Cash)
Sun LP 12"LP 1220 — With His Hot and Blue Guitar   (1957)
Sun LP 12"DT 91458 (Canadian Capitol Recd Club Edition) — All Aboard the Blue Train   (1962)
Sun LP 12"LP 1270 — All Aboard the Blue Train   (1962)
b. Take 1 WRECK OF THE OLD 97 - 1:47(Arranged by John R. Cash)
Sun LP 12"LP 1220 — With His Hot and Blue Guitar   (1957)
Sun LP 12"DT 91458 (Canadian Capitol Recd Club Edition) — All Aboard the Blue Train   (1962)
Charly LP 12"SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years   (1984)
c. Take 1a (Edit) WRECK OF THE OLD 97 - 1:58(Arranged by John R. Cash)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958   (1990)
See For Miles CDSEECD 719 — The EP Collection...Plus   (2000)
Varese Sarabande CD302 066 214 2 — Roads Less Travelled   (2001)
d. Take 1b (Edit)Outfake WRECK OF THE OLD 97 - 1:58(Arranged by John R. Cash)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 15247 — Up Through the Years 1955-1957    (1986)
Music Brokers CDMBB7091 — The Greatest Songs   (2011)
e. Take 1c (Edit)Outfake WRECK OF THE OLD 97 - 1:46(Arranged by John R. Cash)
Sun (HD Tracks) FLACNo Cat # — All Aboard the Blue Train   (2010)
f. 7-61- Take 2 WRECK OF THE OLD 97 - 1:49(Arranged by John R. Cash)
Sun LP 12"LP 1270 — All Aboard the Blue Train   (1962)
Share Records LP 12"Share 5002 — The Blue Train   (1970)
Sun LP 12"SQBO-93213 — The Greatness of Johnny Cash   (1971)
g. Take 1 BELSHAZAH(J.R. Cash)
unissued
h. Take 2 BELSHAZAH - 2:22(J.R. Cash)
Share Records LP 12"Share 5002 — The Blue Train   (1970)
Sun LP 12"SQBO-93213 — The Greatness of Johnny Cash   (1971)
Sun LP 12"6641008 — The Man, The World, His Music   (1971)

Rock Island Line

a. Rock Island Line (7-59): The lead off track on Johnny Cash's first Sun LP Johnny Cash With His Hot and Blue Guitar! I'm always surprised that this take wasn't overdubbed at some point after Johnny left the label.

I'd recommend any of the following sources for this track: Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 369 2 — With His Hot and Blue Guitar (2002), Time/Life CD: 20803-P — The Complete Recordings 1955-1958 (2005), Columbia Legacy CD: CXK 93000 — The Legend (2005), Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — With His Hot and Blue Guitar (2010), Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — All Aboard the Blue Train (2010), and Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014).

The version on the Hallmark (UK) CD: 700532 — I Walk The Line (2005) is sourced from a (poor) vinyl transfer. It just goes to show that some public domain labels don't care what source they use -- why, in 2005, someone would use a lousy vinyl transfer on a CD when pristine versions are available from other sources is baffling.


Wreck Of The Old '97

b. Wreck Of The Old '97 (Take 1): Although never assigned as the true 'master take', it was take one that was used on the original Sun LP 1220 Johnny Cash With His Hot and Blue Guitar. For some reason, the HD Tracks version of With His Hot and Blue Guitar (mistakenly?) uses take 2 (although take 1c is included on the HD Tracks album for All Aboard the Blue Train).

In order to identify this take, simply listen to the first few lines. Take 1 uses the phrase, "They gave him his orders at Monroe, Virginia, saying 'Steve you're way behind time"'.

I have found that there are four distinct variations of take 1 in circulation. The descriptions for each are as follows:

Variation 1 (Take 1): This variation is the album master and was used on the original Sun LP 1220 (With His Hot and Blue Guitar). This variation has a very abrupt ending that cuts off the final guitar chord (too soon, in my opinion). It is jarring, to say the least, but it is likely that the master tape for take 1 cuts at the exact same place that we hear on the original album.

I would suggest seeking out variation #1 (take 1) from any of the Charly CD releases if you cannot find a clean version on vinyl. To my ears, most of the versions on CD have had some slight noise reduction to reduce the tape hiss, but the version on Charly CD: CD Charly 146 — His Top Hits 1955 to 1958 Recordings (1988) has plenty of tape hiss if that helps you decide which version to add to your collection.

Note that the version on Object Enterprises LTD CD: OR0020 — I Walk The Line: The Collection (1987) uses the LP master with the abrupt ending, but has applied a quick fade to minimize the cut.

Variation 2 (Take 1a): A second variation seemingly first appeared on the 1990 Bear Family box set "The Man In Black 1954-1958". This variation mimics the LP version, in that it comes to end on the final guitar chord, but has a much more natural sounding ending. This version is slightly longer (less than a second for sure) but doesn't trim off the final guitar chord like the LP master. It's hard to know what, if anything, additional has been added to this variation. A small graft from take 2 perhaps? Added reverb at the end to help to better cover the hard edit found on the original LP master? Maybe. This version is used by most of the reputable sources and sounds excellent to my ears.

Perhaps this variation was first created by Bear for their 1990 box set and Sun, liking what they heard, created a similar version that was then licensed out to Columbia, Time/Life, Varese Sarabande, etc. We'll likely never know.

Variation 3 (Take 1b): I have identified a third variation that is an outfake that dates to the mid 1980s. Instead of letting the song cut hard on that final guitar chord, some enterprising chap decided to take the guitar solo heard from :37-:53 and paste it to the end of the track just after the final guitar chord -- then it's brought to a nice fade. This track is timed to about 1:58. It's not a horrible edit, and it gives the song a decent ending, but I would assume (judging from the sources) that this is a modern creation and not something that was created by Sun.

Variation 4 (Take 1c): A fourth variation, available only from HD Tracks, is a new 2010 transfer from the Sun master with the "strum out" of take 2 grafted to the end to give take one a more natural ending. This version has excellent sound quality and the edit is extremely well done, but an 'outfake' nonetheless (unfortunately).

Additional notes for the various edits and outfakes for take 1 can be reviewed below.


c. Wreck Of The Old '97 (Take 1a (Edit)):

See additional notes under 'b. Wreck of the Old 97' regarding this edit (variation #2).

I won't go as far as to label this variation as an outfake, but the ending differs enough from LP master to warrant it's own listing in this sessionography. This variation mimics the LP version, in that it comes to end on the final guitar chord, but has a much more natural sounding ending. This version is slightly longer (less than a second for sure) but doesn't trim off the final guitar chord like the LP master. It's hard to know what, if anything, additional has been added to this variation.

Perhaps this variation was first created by Bear for their 1990 box set and Sun, liking what they heard, created a similar version that was then licensed out to Columbia, Time/Life, Varese Sarabande, etc. We'll likely never know.

I would recommend the following for take 1a (Variation #2) of Wreck of the Old '97: Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 214 2 — Roads Less Travelled (2001), Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 369 2 — With His Hot and Blue Guitar (2002), Time/Life CD: 20803-P — The Complete Recordings 1955-1958 (2005), Columbia Legacy CD: CXK 93000 — The Legend (2005), and Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014).


c. Wreck Of The Old '97 (Take 1b (Edit) Outfake):

See the notes under 'b. Wreck of the Old 97' regarding this outfake/edit (variation #3).

In 1986, it seems that Bear Family didn't much care for the lousy cut on the final chord of take one of "Wreck of the Old 97" and they decided to take matters into their own hands. They took the guitar solo that runs from :37 to :53 and grafted it on to the end of the track in order to give the take a more natural ending. They brought that solo to a fade and viola -- a new variation of "Wreck" was born. And it's not horrible, but in my opinion, it's not something that was recorded or created by Johnny or Sun in the 1950s or 1960s.

If you have to have this outfake in your collection, definitely get it from Bear Family Records CDBCD 15247 — Up Through the Years 1955-1957 (1986).

d. Wreck Of The Old '97 (Take 1c (Edit) Outfake):

See the notes under 'b. Wreck of the Old 97' regarding this outfake/edit (variation #4).

When Johnny's Sun Records were released to HD Tracks in 2010, the following statement accompanied that release:

For this project we are painstakingly making new transfers from the original Sun Masters. We’ve eliminated phase cancellation issues that have been present in previous transfers and brought a new level of clarity and depth to these recordings. Basically, by going back to the very first generation master, and then adjusting for each song individually, we’re able to play these tapes back just as if you were sitting in the control room with Sam Phillips listening from the very same machine used to make the tape.

And new transfers were definitely made! The hard edit usually found on all versions of "Wreck of the Old 97" (take 1) is gone and the song is allowed to fully end on Johnny's final guitar strum. Or so you might initially believe.

Unfortunately, this complete take isn't the first appearance of the full master take being allowed to play out to give the song it's true, natural ending. Instead, it seems that the individuals that prepped the Sun material for release on HD Tracks in 2010 simply took the 'strum out' found on take 2 and grafted it to the end of take 1 in order to give the take a more natural sounding ending. You can find this variation on one and only one source:

Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — All Aboard the Blue Train (2010)

If you compare the 'strum out' on take 1 on the HD Tracks version of All Aboard the Blue Train against the same 'strum out' on take 2 on the HD Tracks version of With His Hot and Blue Guitar, you can hear that they are note perfect. There's not the slightest difference between the two.

In my opinion, this is the way the song should have been released initially all the way back in 1957 -- outfake or not -- but it's my assumption that the existing master tape likely cuts at the same stop as we hear it on the original With His Hot and Blue Guitar album released in 1957. And judging by the variations found here, Sun Records has been slightly trying to smooth out the hard cut at the end ever since.

It sounds great, don't get me wrong! At the very least, this does appear to be a Sun (circa 2010) creation which gives it a bit more credibility than having a random EU public domain label release their own franken-edit!

If you're creating your own compilation of Sun material, and you're not dead set on staying true to the original masters, you can hardly go wrong by including this variation of take 1 of Wreck Of The Old '97 from Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC download on All Aboard the Blue Train (2010).

e. Wreck Of The Old '97 (7-61 Take 2): Even though two different masters are known to exist, Sun International assigned a master number to only take 2.

In order to identify this take, listen to the first few lines. Take 2 uses the phrase, "They gave him his orders at Monroe, Virginia, they said 'Steve you're way behind time"'.

I guess we should thank Sun and HD Tracks for messing up the tapes when compiling the tracks for the With His Hot and Blue Guitar download since they easily gave us the best sounding version of this take. I'd really only recommend two sources for take 2: Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — With His Hot and Blue Guitar (2010) and Sun/Cracker Barrel CD: No Cat # — The Sun Records Years (2009).

The other sources either sound horrible or just okay. I'd definitely avoid RedX Entertainment CD: RXBOX31056 — The Great Johnny Cash (1999) and Charly CD: SNAJ 741 CDX — The Complete Sun Masters (2008).


Belshazah

In December 2014, Rockbeat Records and Sun Entertainment announced the upcoming release of a 7 disc deluxe set entitled "The Complete Sun Session" -- which was to include 5 CDs of largely Sun studio recordings, one live disc, and a DVD. It was noted that CD3 would include a version of Belshazah labeled as "Alternate Short Version". It's possible that this alternate take could be the currently unissued take 1. The Pledge Music set was scheduled to include the undubbed take (which likely would have been take 2) and the overdubbed master. I have not updated the sessionography with data on this track since it cannot be confirmed that it is truly a previously uncirculated take. Unfortunately, this deluxe set was shelved due to a dispute over the ownership of Johnny's unreleased Sun recordings that were set to be included in this set.

g. Belshazah (Take 2): For the most part, outside of the usual suspects, this take sounds pretty good on a number of releases. I'd recommend one of the following: Charly CD: CD Charly 146 — His Top Hits 1955 to 1958 Recordings (1988), Bear Family Records CD: BCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958 (1990), Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 056 2 — The Complete Original Sun Singles (1999), Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 214 2 — Roads Less Travelled (2001), Time/Life CD: 20803-P — The Complete Recordings 1955-1958 (2005), Columbia Legacy CD: 88697 05838 2 — Ultimate Gospel (2007), and Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014).

The version on the Sun LP 12": SQBO-93213 — The Greatness of Johnny Cash (1971) seems to run slightly slow to my ears.

Belshazah (take 2) was overdubbed on April 21, 1964 and released on The Original Sun Sound of Johnny Cash LP.


Date: Jul 31, 1957
Location: Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN Producer: Sam Phillips
Label: Sun
Overdub Session

a. Overdubbed HOME OF THE BLUES(J.R. Cash, G. Douglas, L. McAlpin)
unissued
b. U 269/7-35 OverdubbedMaster GIVE MY LOVE TO ROSE - 2:46(J.R. Cash)
Sun LP 12"SLP 1245 — Sings Hank Williams   (1960)
Sun LP 12"DT 91458 (Canadian Capitol Recd Club Edition) — All Aboard the Blue Train   (1962)
Sun LP 12"LP 1270 — All Aboard the Blue Train   (1962)

Give My Love To Rose

b. Give My Love To Rose (U269/7-35 Overdubbed): You really can't top the version of Give My Love To Rose without the vocal overdubs -- but of course they tried!

I would only recommend the following three sources for this track: Charly CD: SNAP 285 CD — Original Sound Sound of Johnny Cash (2 Original Albums on One CD) (2007), Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — Sings Hank Williams (2010), and Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — All Aboard the Blue Train (2010).

The other CD sources are from horrible transfers -- and in the case of Charly CD: SNAJ 741 CDX — The Complete Sun Masters (2008), a horrible vinyl transfer.

The Gene Lowery Singers: Bill Abbott, Don Carter, Lee Holt, Cyd Mosteller, Nita Smith, and Asa Wilkerson added vocals to Give My Love To Rose at this session, it is possible James Van Eaton also added drums (although I can't hear any evidence of drums on the track).


Date: August 1957
Location: Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN Producer: Sam Phillips
Label: Sun

a. Acoustic Demo COUNTRY BOY - 1:50(J.R. Cash)
Varese Sarabande CD302 066 369 2 — With His Hot and Blue Guitar    (2002)
ORG Music LP 12"ORGM-2010 — With His Hot and Blue Guitar   (2014)
ORG Music / Cracker Barrel CDORGM-2010 — With His Hot and Blue Guitar   (2014)
ORG Music CDORGM-2010-2 — With His Hot and Blue Guitar   (2014)
b. Acoustic Demo LEAVE THAT JUNK ALONE - 1:30(J.R. Cash)
ARC Records CDTOP CD 521 — Home of the Blues   (1987)
Charly CDSNAJ 706 CD — His Sun Years    (2001)
Varese Sarabande CD302 066 214 2 — Roads Less Travelled   (2001)
Both titles on: Charly LP 12"SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years   (1984)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958   (1990)
Charly CDCDSUNBOX 5 — The Sun Years    (1995)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
Charly CDSNAJ 741 CDX — The Complete Sun Masters    (2008)
Columbia Legacy (Pono/Qobuz) FLACNo Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun   (2014)

Country Boy

a. Country Boy (Demo): An acoustic demo featuring only Johnny Cash on guitar and vocals.

Most sources for this track sound good and feature similar mastering, but avoid these three since they are absolutely a muddy mess: Charly CD: CDSUNBOX 5 — The Sun Years (1995), Charly CD: SNAJ 741 CDX — The Complete Sun Masters (2008), and Charly LP 12": SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years (1984).


Leave That Junk Alone

b. Leave That Junk Alone (Demo): Another acoustic demo featuring Johnny alone on guitar and also dated to August 1957.

Most early sources for this track are muddy and from inferior sources (same as the Country Boy demo above).

I'd stick with one of the souces below for the clearest sounding demo of Leave That Junk Alone: Columbia Legacy CD: 88697 60051 2 — From Memphis to Hollywood: Bootleg II (2011), Time/Life CD: 20803-P — The Complete Recordings 1955-1958 (2005), Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 214 2 — Roads Less Travelled (2001), Reader's Digest / Sun CD: SSTC05536 — The Complete Early Hits Collection (2006), and Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014).


Date: Aug 1, 1957
Location: Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN Producer: Sam Phillips
Label: Sun
Overdub Session

a. U 268/7-29 OverdubbedMaster HOME OF THE BLUES - 2:39(J.R. Cash, G. Douglas, L. McAlpin)
  Sun LP 12"SLP 1235 — Sings The Songs That Made Him Famous   (1958)
Sun LP 12"SLP 1255 — Now Here's Johnny Cash   (1961)
Sun LP 12"DT 90678 (Canadian Capitol Recd Club Edition) — Now Here's Johnny Cash   (1961)

a. Home Of The Blues (U268/7-29 Overdub Session): This session placed vocal overdubs, by the Gene Lowery Singers, over take 3 of Home Of The Blues.

Your ears may hear it differently, but I've always felt that most sources clip the very opening guitar note that begins the track. For example, listen to the version from Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — Sings the Songs That Made Him Famous (2010). The opening note does not sound clipped and the entire note can be heard. Then listen to the version on Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — Now Here's Johnny Cash (2010) -- it sounds slightly clipped to me. Strange since both sources are from HD Tracks/Sun. I wonder if the master used for the Songs That Made Him Famous has an 'unclipped' source while the same master, as prepared for the Now Here's Johnny Cash album, is slightly clipped? Oddly enough, the version found on Sun (Ultra Vybe) CD: CDSOL-5164 — Sings The Songs That Made Him Famous (2015) has the clipped intro!

It's worth noting that the original SUN LP releases for Sings The Songs That Made Him Famous and Now Here's Johnny Cash both feature an unclipped Home of the Blues.

The undubbed take used for this session remains unissued.

Available on dozens of compilations, I'd recommend the following: Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 056 2 — The Complete Original Sun Singles (1999), Time/Life CD: 20803-P — The Complete Recordings 1955-1958 (2005), Columbia Legacy CD: CXK 93000 — The Legend (2005), Sundazed CD: SC 11205 — Original Sun Singles '55-'58 (2009), Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — Sings the Songs That Made Him Famous (2010), Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — Now Here's Johnny Cash (2010), and Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014).


Date: Aug 4, 1957
Location: Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN Producer: Sam Phillips
Label: Sun

a. Take 1 DOIN' MY TIME - 2:25(Jimmie Skinner)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
Charly CDSNAJ 741 CDX — The Complete Sun Masters    (2008)
b. 7-55 - Take 2 DOIN' MY TIME - 2:38(Jimmie Skinner)
Sun LP 12"LP 1220 — With His Hot and Blue Guitar   (1957)
Charly LP 12"SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years   (1984)
Castle Communications CDCCSCD 146 — The Johnny Cash Collection   (1986)
c. Take 3 DOIN' MY TIME(Jimmie Skinner)
unissued
d. Take 1 COUNTRY BOY - 1:47(J.R. Cash)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
e. Take 2 COUNTRY BOY(J.R. Cash)
unissued
f. 7-8 - Take 3 COUNTRY BOY - 1:52(J.R. Cash)
Sun LP 12"LP 1220 — With His Hot and Blue Guitar   (1957)
Sun LP 12"LP 1275 — The Original Sun Sound of Johnny Cash   (1964)
Sun LP 12"6641008 — The Man, The World, His Music   (1971)
g. Take 1 IF THE GOOD LORD'S WILLING - 1:43(Jerry Reed)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
Charly CDSNAJ 741 CDX — The Complete Sun Masters    (2008)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 17311 FK — Sun Country Box 1950-1959    (2013)
h. 7-51 - Take 2 IF THE GOOD LORD'S WILLING - 1:41(Jerry Reed)
Sun LP 12"LP 1220 — With His Hot and Blue Guitar   (1957)
Charly LP 12"SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years   (1984)
Charly CDCD CHARLY 18 — Country Boy   (1986)
i. Take 3 IF THE GOOD LORD'S WILLING(Jerry Reed)
unissued
j. fs I HEARD THAT LONESOME WHISTLE BLOW - 0:41(Hank Williams)
unissued
k. Take 1 I HEARD THAT LONESOME WHISTLE BLOW - 2:21(Hank Williams)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
l. Take 2 I HEARD THAT LONESOME WHISTLE BLOW(Hank Williams)
unissued
m. 7-58 - Take 3 I HEARD THAT LONESOME WHISTLE BLOW - 2:24(Hank Williams)
Sun LP 12"LP 1220 — With His Hot and Blue Guitar   (1957)
Sun LP 12"DT 91458 (Canadian Capitol Recd Club Edition) — All Aboard the Blue Train   (1962)
Sun LP 12"LP 1270 — All Aboard the Blue Train   (1962)
n. 7-54 - Take 1 I WAS THERE WHEN IT HAPPENED - 2:15(Jimmie Davis)
Sun LP 12"LP 1220 — With His Hot and Blue Guitar   (1957)
Charly LP 12"SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years   (1984)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958   (1990)
o. Take 2 I WAS THERE WHEN IT HAPPENED - 2:17(Jimmie Davis)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958   (1990)
Varese Sarabande CD302 066 214 2 — Roads Less Travelled   (2001)
Varese Sarabande CD302 066 369 2 — With His Hot and Blue Guitar    (2002)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
Charly CDSNAJ 741 CDX — The Complete Sun Masters    (2008)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 17311 FK — Sun Country Box 1950-1959    (2013)
p. fs REMEMBER ME - 0:41(Stuart Hamblen)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
q. 7-52 REMEMBER ME - 1:59(Stuart Hamblen)
Sun LP 12"LP 1220 — With His Hot and Blue Guitar   (1957)
Hilltop (Pickwick) LP 12"JS 6097 — I Walk The Line   (1971)
Charly LP 12"SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years   (1984)

Doin' My Time

a. Doin' My Time (Take 1): Only available from a couple of sources, this first take of Doin' My Time is a little rough but you can tell that Johnny and the band are almost there. They'll nail it with the next take. This outtake first appeared on the Bear Family set The Outtakes in 2007 and it would appear that Charly simply "borrowed" this master from Bear Family for their 2008 Complete set. Both sources feature the same mastering, but I actually prefer the version on the Charly set. They reduced the volume a touch when compared to the (overly) loud Outtakes set.

b. Doin' My Time (7-55 Take 2): The master take. Most sources for this track sound decent, with only a few using inferior souces, but I'd recommend the following for this track: Time/Life CD: 20803-P — The Complete Recordings 1955-1958 (2005), Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 214 2 — Roads Less Travelled (2001), Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 369 2 — With His Hot and Blue Guitar (2002), ORG Music / Cracker Barrel CD: ORGM-2010 — With His Hot and Blue Guitar (2014), Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — With His Hot and Blue Guitar (2010), Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014), and Bear Family Records CD: BCD 16820 AH — Traveling Cash: An Imaginary Journey (2006).

It's pretty easy to tell the two takes of Doin' My Time apart -- Take 1 ends on a full guitar strum while take 2 (the master take) ends on a single, extended guitar note.


Country Boy

d. Country Boy (Take 1): Take 1 is very similar to take 3 (which would end up being the master take). It is performed at a slighly faster tempo than the master take and is only available on the Bear Family Records CD: BCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes (2007).

Pay special attention to the phrasing at approximately the :40 point in the song on the line "You're lucky free". It is slightly different when comparing take 1 to take 3.

f. Country Boy (7-8 Take 3): The master take that was featured on Sun LP 1220 With His Hot and Blue Guitar.

The master for a number of great sounding recent sources includes a bit of tape damage around the :10 second point of the song during the "well you work all day..." line. You'll find this slight damage on these (good sounding) sources: Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 488 2 — The Original Sun Sound of Johnny Cash (2003), Columbia Legacy CD: 88697910472-61 — With His Hot and Blue Guitar (Complete Columbia Box Set) (2012), Time/Life CD: 20803-P — The Complete Recordings 1955-1958 (2005), Bear Family Records CD: BCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958 (1990), and Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014). If you can live with this slight defect, then I'd recommend any of the sources above.

The lossess versions available through HD Tracks DO NOT have the tape damage and can be found on these albums: Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — The Original Sun Sound of Johnny Cash (2010) and Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — With His Hot and Blue Guitar (2010). Therefore, these would be my recommened sources for this track.

A number of other sources have a clean tape source, but the sound quality is subpar.

Avoid the version on The Entertainers CD: CD 208 — His 30 Greatest Hits (1996) since it runs fast and is sourced from vinyl.


If The Good Lord's Willing

g. If The Good Lord's Willing (Take 1): A bit slower and more tentative than take 2 (the master take), this first try at this Jerry Reed song is best found on either Charly CD: SNAJ 741 CDX — The Complete Sun Masters (2008) and Bear Family Records CD: BCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes (2007).

h. If The Good Lord's Willing (7-51 Take 2): The master take and the take that appeared on Sun LP 1220 With His Hot and Blue Guitar. You'll find a pretty decent sounding version on a number of compilations, but I'd stick with the following: Time/Life CD: 20803-P — The Complete Recordings 1955-1958 (2005), Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 214 2 — Roads Less Travelled (2001), Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 369 2 — With His Hot and Blue Guitar (2002), ORG Music / Cracker Barrel CD: ORGM-2010 — With His Hot and Blue Guitar (2014), Charly CD: CD Charly 146 — His Top Hits 1955 to 1958 Recordings (1988), Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — With His Hot and Blue Guitar (2010), and Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014).


I Heard That Lonesome Whistle Blow

J. I Heard That Lonesome Whistle Blow (False Starts): The Bear Family Records CD: BCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes (2007) set list these false starts as being on disc 2, track 10. These same false starts were previously released on the Charly LP 12": SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years (1984) and Bear Family Records CD: BCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958 (1990) but included in front of the master take for Remember Me which was recorded during this same session.

Although the guitar intros to both songs definitely sound similar, it's obvious that the chords being played are Remember Me and not I Heard That Lonesome Whistle Blow. It's my belief that an error was made during the creation of the Bear Family Outtakes set and that these four false starts were mistakenly attributed to the recording of I Heard That Lonesome Whistle Blow, but truly are aborted takes for Remember Me. Since there are a number of sessionographies that list these full starts for I Heard That Lonesome Whistle Blow, I am leaving this entry in the sessionography so that individuals can judge for themselves.

k. I Heard That Lonesome Whistle Blow (Take 1): The lyrics are slightly different on this take when compared to take 3 (the master take). Around the 1:47 point of take 1, Johnny sings "I'll be locked here in this cell / until my body's just a shell". On take 3, he sings the word "til" instead of "until".

m. I Heard That Lonesome Whistle Blow (7-58 Take 3): Available on from numerous sources, but I'd recommend: Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — All Aboard the Blue Train (2010), Time/Life CD: 20803-P — The Complete Recordings 1955-1958 (2005), Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 369 2 — With His Hot and Blue Guitar (2002), ORG Music / Cracker Barrel CD: ORGM-2010 — With His Hot and Blue Guitar (2014), Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — With His Hot and Blue Guitar (2010), and Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014).

Again, this take can be easily identified by the use of the following line around the 1:49 point of the song: "I'll be locked here in this cell / til my body's just a shell".

Note: The Charly LP 12": SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years (1984) includes a :06 second false start prior to the full take 3. This short false start is NOT one of the four false starts heard on the Bear Family The Outtakes set and shown in this discography as 'j. I Heard That Lonesome Whistle Blow'. If you're collecting every snippet of Johnny's Sun sessions, you'll need the Sun Box 103 vinyl set for this short false start.

The version on the World Star Collection CD: WSC 99038 — The Best of Johnny Cash (1988) is sourced from vinyl.


I Was There When It Happened

In December 2014, Rockbeat Records and Sun Entertainment announced the upcoming release of a 7 disc deluxe set entitled "The Complete Sun Session" -- which was to include 5 CDs of largely Sun studio recordings, one live disc, and a DVD. It was noted that CD3 would include a version of I Was There When It Happened labeled as "unreleased alternate take". The Pledge Music set was scheduled to also include two other versions of this track labeled as "alternate take" and "master take" which should be the two tracks that we have been noted in this sessionography. This unreleased alternate take would likely be new to collectors. I have not included this unissued take in the sessionography since I have not been able to confirm if the take is truly unreleased. Unfortunately, this deluxe set was shelved due to a dispute over the ownership of Johnny's unreleased Sun recordings that were set to be included in this set.

n. I Was There When It Happened (7-54 Take 1): The master take and included on Johnny's debut Sun LP 1220 With His Hot and Blue Guitar.

This take can be identified by lyrics in line 2 of the song -- Johnny sings "Whether we are saved or whether all is well." In the digital realm, there a number of great sounding sources for this track: Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — With His Hot and Blue Guitar (2010), Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014), Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 369 2 — With His Hot and Blue Guitar (2002), Time/Life CD: 20803-P — The Complete Recordings 1955-1958 (2005), ORG Music / Cracker Barrel CD: ORGM-2010 — With His Hot and Blue Guitar (2014), and Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 369 2 — With His Hot and Blue Guitar (2002).

o. I Was There When It Happened (Take 2): This take can be identified by lyrics in line 2 of the song -- Johnny sings "Whether you are saved or whether all is well."

I'd recommend the following for this alternate take: Bear Family Records CD: BCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958 (1990), Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 214 2 — Roads Less Travelled (2001), and Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 369 2 — With His Hot and Blue Guitar (2002).

One note for the completists: Take 2, as found on the Bear Family Records CD: BCD 17311 FK — Sun Country Box 1950-1959 (2013) release, includes a cough from the studio that is unique to this set. On the CD and download, the cough can be found at the very end of the track before "I Was There When It Happened", "Folsom Prison Blues".


Remember Me

p. Remember Me (False Starts): This entry is for a series of four false starts which include Johnny telling Luther after the first aborted attempt, ""You got to fill in there somewhere Luther". As an individual track, you'll only find this on the The Bear Family Records CD: BCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes (2007) set on disc 2, track 10 (it is mistakenly listed as being false starts for I Heard That Lonesome Whistle Blow (see entry 'j.' in this session for more information). The Outtakes track times to about :41 seconds.

These same false starts were also released in full on the following two sets prior to The Outtakes set in 2007: Bear Family Records CD: BCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958 (1990) and Charly LP 12": SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years (1984). Both of these tracks place the false starts prior to the master take of Remember Me and are not tracked as their own individual track. For example, you'll find these false starts on disc 2, track 19 on the Bear Family The Man In Black 1954-1958 (1990) collection, but the FS and the master take are all contained within track 19.

To make things even more muddier, the first false start and the chatter with Johnny saying, "You got to fill in there somewhere Luther," was included before the full Remember Me track on the Time/Life CD: 20803-P — The Complete Recordings 1955-1958 (2005). Confusing, isn't it?.

Let's break it down. The false starts for Remember Me break down as follows:

1. Bear Family The Outtakes (2007): Available as its own track -- Disc 2, Track 10 -- and :41 seconds in length (mistakenly attributed to I Heard That Lonesome Whistle Blow in the art work for the set).
2. Bear Family The Sun Years (Sun Box 103 / 1984) 5 LP set: Included on LP3 -- Side B, Track 5 -- and :48 seconds in length. It includes some minor guitar noodling at the end that The Outtakes set does not include.
3. Bear Family The Man In Black 1954-1958 (1990) CD set: Same as the vinyl box set from Charly (Sun Box 103). It is found on Disc 2, Track 19 -- :48 seconds in length -- and placed on the same track as the full master take for Remember Me.
4. Time Life The Complete Recordings 1955-1958 (2005): Included on Disc 2, Track 12 and is :13 seconds long. Only includes the first false start and studio chatter. Tracked on the disc with the full master take of Remember Me.

All this being said, grab the false starts from the Bear Famly The Man In Black 1954-1958 (1990) set and you've got it all. Whew.

q. Remember Me (7-52): The master take as included on the Sun LP 1220 With His Hot and Blue Guitar. Grab this from one of the following sources for great sounding version: Bear Family Records CD: BCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958 (1990), Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 369 2 — With His Hot and Blue Guitar (2002), ORG Music / Cracker Barrel CD: ORGM-2010 — With His Hot and Blue Guitar (2014), Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — With His Hot and Blue Guitar (2010), and Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014).

And by God don't forget to pick up those false starts from somewhere!


Date: Oct 11, 1957
Location: Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN Producer: Sam Phillips
Label: Sun

a. COME IN STRANGER - 2:03(J.R. Cash)
  Sun LP 12"DT 91458 (Canadian Capitol Recd Club Edition) — All Aboard the Blue Train   (1962)
Charly LP 12"SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years   (1984)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958   (1990)

a. Come In Stranger (Alternate Take): This song would be revisited in 1958 when Johnny and the band would lay down the master take. This early take sounds good on all of the digital sources but I'd recommend the version on Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014) slightly above all of the others.

Martin Hawkins indicates a double session was filed with the American Federation of Musicians by the Sun Company but provides no further details. Apart from the above title he assumes Ballad of a Teenage Queen and Big River may have got their start at one of these sessions.


Date: Nov 12, 1957
Location: Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN Producer: Jack Clement
Label: Sun

a. Take 1 BIG RIVER - 3:46(J.R. Cash)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958   (1990)
Varese Sarabande CD302 066 488 2 — The Original Sun Sound of Johnny Cash    (2003)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
b. U 285/7-47 - Take 2Master BIG RIVER - 2:31(J.R. Cash)
Sun LP 12"SLP 1235 — Sings The Songs That Made Him Famous   (1958)
Sun LP 12"LP 1275 — The Original Sun Sound of Johnny Cash   (1964)
Sun LP 12"SUN-2-118 — The Legend   (1970)
c. Take 3 BIG RIVER(J.R. Cash)
unissued
d. Take 1 BALLAD OF A TEENAGE QUEEN(Jack Clement)
unissued
e. Take 2 BALLAD OF A TEENAGE QUEEN - 2:18(Jack Clement)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
Sun/Cracker Barrel CDNo Cat # — The Sun Records Years    (2009)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 17311 FK — Sun Country Box 1950-1959    (2013)
Columbia Legacy (Pono/Qobuz) FLACNo Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun   (2014)
f. Take 3 BALLAD OF A TEENAGE QUEEN(Jack Clement)
unissued
g. Take 4 BALLAD OF A TEENAGE QUEEN - 2:12(Jack Clement)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958   (1990)
Varese Sarabande CD302 066 441 2 — Sings the Songs That Made Him Famous    (2003)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
Charly CDSNAJ 741 CDX — The Complete Sun Masters    (2008)
Time/Life CDM19635 — Original Greatest Hits   (2008)
h. fs GOODNIGHT IRENE - 0:08(Huddie 'Leadbelly' Ledbetter, John A. Lomax, Sr.)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
i. 7-9 GOODNIGHT IRENE - 2:41(Huddie 'Leadbelly' Ledbetter, John A. Lomax, Sr.)
Charly LP 12"SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years   (1984)
Charly CDCD CHARLY 18 — Country Boy   (1986)
Object Enterprises LTD CDOR0020 — I Walk The Line: The Collection   (1987)

Big River

a. Big River (Take 1): Take 1 is the version Cash referred to on his ABC-TV show, aired on January 6, 1971, as having another verse which was cut at the recording session because of its length. He did, however, sing the song in its entirety on that program. The omitted verse is:

Well now I pulled into Natchez the next day, down the river
And there wasn’t much there to make a rounder stay very long
And when I left it was raining so nobody saw me cry
Big River why’s she doing me that way.

Cash did, on occasion, sing this verse during his concerts.

The following sources have two false starts (totally :30 seconds) prior to the full take 1:

Charly CD: SNAJ 741 CDX — The Complete Sun Masters (2008)
Columbia Legacy CD: 88697 60051 2 — From Memphis to Hollywood: Bootleg II (2011)
Bear Family Records CD: BCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958 (1990)
Bear Family Records CD: BCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes (2007)

The following sources have only take 1 (no false starts):

Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 488 2 — The Original Sun Sound of Johnny Cash (2003)
Sun/Cracker Barrel CD: No Cat # — The Sun Records Years (2009)
Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014)

Columbia's Johnny Cash at Sun (2014) is probably the best sounding of the bunch, but it's missing the false starts. Your next best option is Columbia's From Memphis to Hollywood: Bootleg II (2011) which includes the two false starts and the full take. The sound quality for all sources is above average however.

b. Big River (U285/7-47): The master take. Available on dozens and dozens of compilations and easily one of Johnny Cash's most popular songs.

I'd recommend seeking this one out for the best possible sound: Bear Family Records CD: BCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958 (1990), Time/Life CD: 20803-P — The Complete Recordings 1955-1958 (2005), Columbia Legacy CD: CXK 93000 — The Legend (2005, Bear Family Records CD: BCD 16820 AH — Traveling Cash: An Imaginary Journey (2006), Sundazed CD: SC 11205 — Original Sun Singles '55-'58 (2009), Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — The Original Sun Sound of Johnny Cash (2010), Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — Sings the Songs That Made Him Famous (2010), and Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014).

Avoid the version on the Legend CD: WZ 90072 — The Best of Johnny Cash (1993) unless you enjoy hearing piped in audience noise over the original studio recording. Just awful.


Ballad Of A Teenage Queen

e. Ballad of a Teenage Queen (Take 2): Take two can be identified by the phrasing of the following lyrics at about 1:08 in the song: "So she left the boy next door (no pause) working at the candy store".

The version on the Bear Family Records CD: BCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes (2007) (Disc 2, Track 14) includes about 8 seconds of studio noise and guitar at the end of the track -- Johnny is stumming the chords to the opening of "Goodnight Irene" which would be recorded at this same session. This short false start has been assigned to this same session as 'h. Goodnight Irene (false start)'.

I would recommend take 2 as found on the Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014).

f. Ballad of a Teenage Queen (Take 3): This take is unissued but was overdubbed on November 22, 1957 and released as a single and on Sun SLP 1235 Johnny Cash Sings The Songs That Made Him Famous.

g. Ballad of a Teenage Queen (Take 4): Take four can be identified by the phrasing of the following lyrics at about 1:08 in the song: "So she left the boy next door (pause) workin' at the candy store."

The version on the Bear Family Records CD: BCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958 (1990) includes a muted count-in at the beginning of the track by Johnny Cash. This count-in has been removed from the other sources for this take. The version on the Time/Life CD: M19635 — Original Greatest Hits (2008) sounds excellent, but is missing the count-in.


Goodnight Irene

h. Goodnight Irene (False Start): This false start is found at the end of Ballad of a Teenage Queen (track 14, disc 2) of the Bear Family The Outtakes CD set. It's not identified as it's own track and is merely an 8 second additional bit of the studio sessions captured that day.

i. Goodnight Irene (7-9): This is one of the rare occasions when all of the sources sound almost uniformly excellent. I'd still probably stick to the usual suspects for a good sounding copy, but you really can't go wrong for this track.

Goodnight Irene would be overdubbed on April 21, 1964 and included on the Sun LP 1275 The Original Sun Sound of Johnny Cash.


Date: Nov 22, 1957
Location: Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN Producer: Jack Clement
Label: Sun
Overdub Session

a. Overdubbed FOLSOM PRISON BLUES - 2:49(J.R. Cash)
Sun LP 12"SLP 1245 — Sings Hank Williams   (1960)
Charly CDSNAP 285 CD — Original Sun Sound of Johnny Cash (2 Original Albums on One CD)    (2007)
Sun (HD Tracks) FLACNo Cat # — Sings Hank Williams   (2010)
b. Overdubbed I WALK THE LINE - 2:46(J.R. Cash)
Sun LP 12"SLP 1245 — Sings Hank Williams   (1960)
Charly CDSNAP 285 CD — Original Sun Sound of Johnny Cash (2 Original Albums on One CD)    (2007)
Sun (HD Tracks) FLACNo Cat # — Sings Hank Williams   (2010)
c. Overdubbed NEXT IN LINE - 2:48(J.R. Cash)
Sun LP 12"SLP 1245 — Sings Hank Williams   (1960)
Charly CDSNAP 285 CD — Original Sun Sound of Johnny Cash (2 Original Albums on One CD)    (2007)
Music Club Deluxe CDMCDLX128 — Rock and Roll Roots   (2010)
d. U 284/7-41 OverdubbedMaster BALLAD OF A TEENAGE QUEEN - 2:11(Jack Clement)
Sun LP 12"SLP 1235 — Sings The Songs That Made Him Famous   (1958)
Sun LP 12"SUN-2-118 — The Legend   (1970)
Sun LP 12"SQBO-93213 — The Greatness of Johnny Cash   (1971)
All titles on: Charly CDSNAJ 741 CDX — The Complete Sun Masters    (2008)

Folsom Prison Blues

a. Folsom Prison Blues (Overdub Session): The Gene Lowery Singers provide vocal overdubs (unfortunately) to this Johnny Cash classic. Horrible.

If you have to have this, I'd recommend it on the Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — Sings Hank Williams (2010). It's a bit bass heavy for my tastes, but it's the best sounding version available. The versions on Charly's Original Sound Sound of Johnny Cash (2 Original Albums on One CD) from 2007 or their Complete Sun Masters from 2008 are acceptable if you need a version on CD.


I Walk The Line

b. I Walk The Line (Overdub Session): The vocal overdubs from The Gene Lowery Singers are more subtle here, but still a disaster nonetheless.

The three digital sources for this track all have a constant, high-pitched bit of static that runs through the entire track. It must be on the master for this recording since the SUN/HD Tracks recording has it as well. It's less annoying on the Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — Sings Hank Williams (2010). If you have a clean copy of the original Sings Hank Williams LP, you might be better off recording the song off of vinyl (not that anyone should really want to listen to this version more than once).


Next In Line

c. Next In Line (Overdub Session): Less of a sacred cow when compared to Folsom Prison Blues and I Walk the Line, but still just awful. Everytime I hear the last :15 seconds or so of the song, I have to wonder if The Gene Lowery Singers just gave up and started singing random "bom bom bom's...". Ugh.

Just download this from Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — Sings Hank Williams (2010) and call it good.

I get the feeling that they might have had the session planned to add vocals to Ballad of a Teenage Queen and someone (obviously at the last second) had the bright idea to take a quick stab at the other three songs. Big mistake.


Ballad Of A Teenage Queen

d. Ballad of a Teenage Queen (U284/7-41 Overdub Session): The master take and one of Johnny's biggest chart hits.

It's available on dozens of compilations but stick with these for the best sound: Bear Family Records CD: BCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958 (1990), Time/Life CD: 20803-P — The Complete Recordings 1955-1958 (2005), Columbia Legacy CD: CXK 93000 — The Legend (2005), Sundazed CD: SC 11205 — Original Sun Singles '55-'58 (2009), Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — Sings the Songs That Made Him Famous (2010), and Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014).


Date: Apr 9, 1958
Location: Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN Producer: Jack Clement
Label: Sun

a. Take 1 GUESS THINGS HAPPEN THAT WAY(Jack Clement)
unissued
b. Take 2 GUESS THINGS HAPPEN THAT WAY(Jack Clement)
unissued
c. Take 3 GUESS THINGS HAPPEN THAT WAY(Jack Clement)
unissued
d. Take 4 GUESS THINGS HAPPEN THAT WAY(Jack Clement)
unissued
e. Take 5 GUESS THINGS HAPPEN THAT WAY(Jack Clement)
unissued
f. Take 6 GUESS THINGS HAPPEN THAT WAY - 1:55(Jack Clement)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958   (1990)
Varese Sarabande CD302 066 441 2 — Sings the Songs That Made Him Famous    (2003)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16820 AH — Traveling Cash: An Imaginary Journey   (2006)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
Columbia Legacy (Pono/Qobuz) FLACNo Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun   (2014)
g. Take 1 COME IN STRANGER(J.R. Cash)
unissued
h. Take 2 COME IN STRANGER(J.R. Cash)
unissued
i. Take 3 COME IN STRANGER(J.R. Cash)
unissued
j. U 305/7-49 - Take 4Master COME IN STRANGER - 1:43(J.R. Cash)
Sun LP 12"SLP 1245 — Sings Hank Williams   (1960)
Sun LP 12"LP 1270 — All Aboard the Blue Train   (1962)
Sun LP 12"SUN-2-118 — The Legend   (1970)
k. Take 1 OH, LONESOME ME - 2:31(Don Gibson)
Charly LP 12"SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years   (1984)
Object Enterprises LTD CDOR0020 — I Walk The Line: The Collection   (1987)
Charly CDCD Charly 146 — His Top Hits 1955 to 1958 Recordings    (1988)

Guess Things Happen That Way

f. Guess Things Happen That Way (Take 6): A few other Sun sessionography sites list the undubbed outtakes as being take 1 -- and that take 6 is the take used for overdubbing on the hit version of the song. I've listened and compared all of the available digital sources for the undubbed track and have concluded that this is the same track used for the overdubbing session. Therefore, they must be take 6 if that take was indeed used for the overdubbing session.

It would appear that the overdubbed version fades the song earlier than the undubbed version, but other than that, I can hear no difference in the vocals between all of the undubbed souces and the final, overdubbed master.

I'd recommend getting this undubbed take on Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014).

Guess Things Happen That Way (take 6) would be overdubbed in May of 1958 and included on the Sun SLP 1235 Sings the Songs That Made Him Famous.


Come In Stranger

j. Come In Stranger (U305/7-49 Take 4): The master take. Originally attempted in November 1957, this new recording is available on a number of compilations and most of them sound decent to okay. Stick with the following for the best sound quality: Bear Family Records CD: BCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958 (1990), Sundazed CD: SC 11205 — Original Sun Singles '55-'58 (2009), Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — Sings Hank Williams (2010), Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — All Aboard the Blue Train (2010), Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014), and Time/Life CD: 20803-P — The Complete Recordings 1955-1958 (2005).


Oh, Lonesome Me

k. Oh, Lonesome Me (Take 1): This take would be overdubbed in May of 1958 and released as a single (and on Sun SLP 1255 Now Here's Johnny Cash in 1961).

The undubbed version sounds best on Charly CD: CD Charly 146 — His Top Hits 1955 to 1958 Recordings (1988), Time/Life CD: 20803-P — The Complete Recordings 1955-1958 (2005), and Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014).


Date: May 1958
Location: Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN Producer: Jack Clement
Label: Sun
Overdub Session

a. Overdubbed GUESS THINGS HAPPEN THAT WAY - 1:57(Jack Clement)
Music Club Deluxe CDMCDLX128 — Rock and Roll Roots   (2010)
b. Overdubbed GUESS THINGS HAPPEN THAT WAY - 1:51(Jack Clement)
Sun/Cracker Barrel CDNo Cat # — The Sun Records Years    (2009)
Both titles on: Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)

a. Guess Things Happen That Way (Overdub Studio Session): We're given a peak into the overdub session featuring the vocal group The Confederates and an unnamed female singer.

The Confederates were a barbershop quartet that performed in the 1950's and 1960's. The group formed in September 1953 in Memphis, TN, and were notable not only for their championship-calibre harmonies, but also for performing in Confederate officer uniforms. They consisted of:

George Evans - Tenor
Dave LaBonte - Lead
Bill "Bus" Busby - Baritone
Wally Singleton - Bass

This first outtake is available on the Music Club Deluxe CD: MCDLX128 — Rock and Roll Roots (2010) and the Bear Family Records CD: BCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes (2007) and starts with one of the vocalists saying "I got to practice a minute, wait a minute, one time".

b. Guess Things Happen That Way (Overdub Studio Session): A second bit of tape from this same session. This take is also available on the Bear Family The Outtakes (2007) set, but you'll find this on The Sun Records Years set released through Cracker Barrel in 2009 as well. The Cracker Barrel set fades up about a second earlier than The Outtakes set so we get a bit of studio silence that is exclusive to that release (I put this in for the absolute hardcores that have to have everything -- including silence!).


Date: May 1958
Location: Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN Producer: Jack Clement
Label: Sun

a. U 304/7-44 OverdubbedMaster GUESS THINGS HAPPEN THAT WAY - 1:51(Jack Clement)
Sun LP 12"SLP 1235 — Sings The Songs That Made Him Famous   (1958)
Sun LP 12"SUN-2-118 — The Legend   (1970)
Charly CDCD CHARLY 18 — Country Boy   (1986)
b. U 427/7-27 OverdubbedMaster OH, LONESOME ME - 2:28(Don Gibson)
Sun LP 12"SLP 1255 — Now Here's Johnny Cash   (1961)
Sun LP 12"DT 90678 (Canadian Capitol Recd Club Edition) — Now Here's Johnny Cash   (1961)
Sun LP 12"SQBO-93213 — The Greatness of Johnny Cash   (1971)
Both titles on: Charly LP 12"SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years   (1984)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958   (1990)
Charly CDCPCD 8101 — Folsom Prison Blues (The Original Sun Hits)   (1995)

Guess Things Happen That Way

a. Guess Things Happen That Way (U304/7-44 Overdub Session): The master take. The best souding versions are all on the usual suspects: Time/Life CD: 20803-P — The Complete Recordings 1955-1958 (2005), Sundazed CD: SC 11205 — Original Sun Singles '55-'58 (2009), Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — Sings the Songs That Made Him Famous (2010), Sun / Rockbeat Records FLAC: No Cat # — Sun Highlights (Pledge Music) (2015), Bear Family Records CD: BCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958 (1990), Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 056 2 — The Complete Original Sun Singles (1999), and Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014).

Be aware that the version on the Bear Family Records CD: BCD 15247 — Up Through the Years 1955-1957 (1986) clips off the opening guitar run and starts the track with first "ba dum da dum" from the overdubs. It's my thought that this isn't a variant, but instead simply a mastering error.


Oh, Lonesome Me

b. Oh, Lonesome Me (U427/7-27 Overdub Session): The master take. Most of the overdubbed masters for this song have the initial acoustic guitar strum clipped off at the beginning -- and this includes the recording on Sun SLP 1255 Now Here's Johnny Cash.

All of the sources listed in this sessionography for the overdubbed version of Oh, Lonesome Me have the clipped intro except for the following: Jasmine CD: JASCD 542 — The Singles 1955-1958 (2010), Real Gone Music CD: RGMCD048 — Five Classic Albums Plus Bonus Singles (2013), Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 468 2 — Now Here's Johnny Cash (2003), Bear Family Records CD: BCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958 (1990), Varese Sarabande CD: 302 066 056 2 — The Complete Original Sun Singles (1999), Union Square Music CD: METRTCD805 — Walking the Line: The Legendary Sun Recordings (2005), Union Square Music CD: SIMPTNCD006 — Simply Johnny Cash (2014), and Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014).

The best sounding clipped version can be found on Sun (HD Tracks) FLAC: No Cat # — Now Here's Johnny Cash (2010).

The unclipped version is best found on Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014), but all of the unclipped versions sound fine.


Date: May 15, 1958 (1st session)
Location: Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN Producer: Jack Clement
Label: Sun

a. Take 1 SUGARTIME - 1:42(Charlie Philips, Odis Echols)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958   (1990)
Varese Sarabande CD302 066 468 2 — Now Here's Johnny Cash    (2003)
Time/Life CD20803-P — The Complete Recordings 1955-1958   (2005)
b. Take 2 SUGARTIME(Charlie Philips, Odis Echols)
unissued
c. Take 1 - Incomplete BORN TO LOSE - 1:12(Frankie Brown)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
d. Take 2 - False Start BORN TO LOSE - 0:20(Frankie Brown)
Charly LP 12"SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years   (1984)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
e. Take 3 BORN TO LOSE - 2:08(Frankie Brown)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958   (1990)
Varese Sarabande CD302 066 214 2 — Roads Less Travelled   (2001)
Varese Sarabande CD302 066 488 2 — The Original Sun Sound of Johnny Cash    (2003)
f. Take 1 YOU'RE THE NEAREST THING TO HEAVEN(J.R. Cash, H. Johnson, J. Atkins)
unissued
g. Take 2 YOU'RE THE NEAREST THING TO HEAVEN(J.R. Cash, H. Johnson, J. Atkins)
unissued
h. Take 3 YOU'RE THE NEAREST THING TO HEAVEN(J.R. Cash, H. Johnson, J. Atkins)
unissued
i. Take 4 YOU'RE THE NEAREST THING TO HEAVEN - 2:36(J.R. Cash, H. Johnson, J. Atkins)
Charly LP 12"SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years   (1984)
Charly CDCDSUNBOX 5 — The Sun Years    (1995)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
Charly CDSNAJ 741 CDX — The Complete Sun Masters    (2008)
Columbia Legacy (Pono/Qobuz) FLACNo Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun   (2014)

Sugartime

a. Sugartime (Take 1): This take is only available from a handful of sources, but sounds excellent on all. There's very little mastering differences between the six sources.

b. Sugartime (Take 2): Take 2 is currently unissued, but was overdubbed on March 27, 1961 and released on SLP 1255 Now Here's Johnny Cash in 1961.


Born To Lose

c. Born To Lose (Take 1): A loose, rambling first take that breaks down about a minute into the recording. It ends with Johnny telling a member of the band, "I nodded at you, this means go ahead."

d. Born To Lose (Take 2 / False Start): A second take that breaks down almost before it got started. It ends with Johnny saying "I got the wrong line...start it over."

On the Charly LP 12": SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years (1984), this short false start is included just prior to the overdubbed version of Born To Lose from March 27, 1961.

e. Born To Lose (Take 3): The undubbed take that would overdubbed on March 27, 1961 and released on Sun LP 1275 The Original Sun Sound of Johnny Cash in 1964.

Although I tend to believe that the Bear Family The Outtakes (2007) set is mastered too loud, you can't really go wrong with any source that offers this take.

The version on the Not Now Music CD: NOT2CD551 — The Sun Singles Collection (2014) sounds great, but it includes a short drum rim shot about five seconds after the track has finished. This is the last track on disc 2 of a 2 disc set and perhaps this is just something that the Not Now label does as some sort of signature. It's easily edited off, but color me confused.


You're The Nearest Thing To Heaven

In December 2014, Rockbeat Records and Sun Entertainment announced the upcoming release of a 7 disc deluxe set entitled "The Complete Sun Session" -- which was to include 5 CDs of largely Sun studio recordings, one live disc, and a DVD. It was noted that CD4 would include a version of You're the Nearest Thing To Heaven labeled as "unreleased alternate take". The Pledge Mustic set was also going to include the master take which would have likely been the commonly available overdubbed version and another alternate take (likely take 4), so this additional cut would have likely been new to collectors. I have not updated the sessionography with data on this track since it cannot be confirmed that it is truly a previously uncirculated take. Unfortunately, this deluxe set was shelved due to a dispute over the ownership of Johnny's unreleased Sun recordings that were set to be included in this set.

i. You're the Nearest Thing To Heaven (Take 4): This undubbed take includes a second vocal track from Johnny Cash -- much like Port of Lonely Hearts. When the track is overdubbed on July 9, 1958, this second vocal track was removed and The Gene Lowery Singers overdubbed vocals to the track. The overdubbed version would be released on Sun SLP 1255 Now Here's Johnny Cash in 1961.

There's no source that sounds horrible, but the best sounding version is found on Columbia Legacy (Qobuz) FLAC: No Cat # — Johnny Cash At Sun (2014).


Date: May 15, 1958 (2nd session)
Location: Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN Producer: Jack Clement
Label: Sun

a. Take 1fs STORY OF A BROKEN HEART - 0:50(Sam Phillips)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
b. Take 2 STORY OF A BROKEN HEART - 6:06(Sam Phillips)
Charly LP 12"SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years   (1984)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958   (1990)
Charly CDCDSUNBOX 5 — The Sun Years    (1995)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
Charly CDSNAJ 741 CDX — The Complete Sun Masters    (2008)
c. Take 3 STORY OF A BROKEN HEART - 2:33(Sam Phillips)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958   (1990)
Varese Sarabande CD302 066 488 2 — The Original Sun Sound of Johnny Cash    (2003)
d. Take 4 STORY OF A BROKEN HEART - 2:10(Sam Phillips)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 17311 FK — Sun Country Box 1950-1959    (2013)
e. U 404/7-6 - Take 5Master STORY OF A BROKEN HEART - 2:10(Sam Phillips)
Sun LP 12"SLP 1255 — Now Here's Johnny Cash   (1961)
Sun LP 12"DT 90678 (Canadian Capitol Recd Club Edition) — Now Here's Johnny Cash   (1961)
Design Records LP 12"DLP-610 — Story of a Broken Heart (Mono Edition)   (1962)
f. inc ALWAYS ALONE - 1:34(Ted Daffan)
Charly LP 12"SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years   (1984)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958   (1990)
Charly CDCDSUNBOX 5 — The Sun Years    (1995)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
Music Club Deluxe CDMCDLX128 — Rock and Roll Roots   (2010)
g. inc ALWAYS ALONE - 1:09(Ted Daffan)
Charly LP 12"SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years   (1984)
Charly CDCDSUNBOX 5 — The Sun Years    (1995)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
Music Club Deluxe CDMCDLX128 — Rock and Roll Roots   (2010)
h. inc ALWAYS ALONE - 1:10(Ted Daffan)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 16325 CR — The Outtakes   (2007)
i. 7-7 ALWAYS ALONE - 1:50(Ted Daffan)
Sun LP 12"LP 1275 — The Original Sun Sound of Johnny Cash   (1964)
Charly LP 12"SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years   (1984)
Castle Communications CDCCSCD 146 — The Johnny Cash Collection   (1986)
j. fs YOU TELL ME - 0:06(Roy Orbison)
Charly LP 12"SUN BOX 103 — The Sun Years   (1984)
Bear Family Records CDBCD 15517 EH — The Man In Black 1954-1958   (1990)