Black Music Matters Festival

Johnny Cash

Live Recordings from the Louisiana Hayride – 2003 (Scena)

Reviewed by Tom Netherland

Until now, though, the earliest live recordings of Johnny Cash came via 1968's "Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison." Thanks to some diligent archivists we now have live music of Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two (and Three) on "Live Recordings from the Louisiana Hayride."

The album is as a fitting coda to a career long and storied. For example, any fan worth a nickel needs to hear Cash's absolutely electrifying version of "Hey Porter," which was debut on the Hayride on November 13, 1955. His album carries through to June 15, 1963 and "Busted."

Cash come through even though the sound wavers from muddy to muddier. No matter. It's as if listeners are given a front row seat in front of the radio. We can hear him as they sounded over the airwaves of KWKH in Shreveport, La. nearly a half century ago.

From a blistering "Rock Island Line" (which blows its studio version right off the tracks) to a quickened "Five Feet High and Rising," Cash's charisma emerges as powerful even after all these years removed. And we even hear him take and then play a request from a fan for "The Rebel - Johnny Yuma."