I'm not much of a country music fan, but I've always had an affinity for the late, great John R. Cash. And this 1968 concert album is one of his very best records, combining the resignation and worldweariness of country with the bluntness of folk music and the roughness and rebelliousness of rock n' roll.
Johnny Cash takes full advantage of the unusual circumstances, drawing energy from the literally captive audience, and creating an intense atmosphere which results in one of the most raw and stimulating performances you'll ever hear.
("This show is being recorded for an album released on Columbia Records", Cash says, "-so you can't say hell or sh*t or anything like that!")
Country weepers like "I Still Miss Someone" and "Green, Green Grass Of Home" may have seemed smaltzy if performed by an artist with less panache, but the imposing Johnny Cash imbues every song with dignity and sincerity.
Almost all of the nineteen songs performed has do to with death, prison, violence, drugs, loneliness, loss and regret, but "Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison" never becomes morose; Cash delivers songs like "Cocaine Blues", "Folsom Prison Blues", "The Wall" and "25 Minutes To Go" with conviction and a singular mix of seriousness and dark, acerbic humor, making this album a sublime concert album, one which truly couldn't have been recorded in the studio. One of the finest records of the 60s, and a must-have for anyone even remotely interested in the music of Johnny Cash.