Orange Blossom Special

Orange Blossom Special

One of Johnny Cash’s landmark albums, Orange Blossom Special has something for just about anyone in his diverse audience. Its mix of country, folk, and gospel was ahead of its time and remains fresh. “It Ain’t Me Babe” (rendered as a sarcastic duet with June Carter Cash and accented with mariachi-style horns), “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” (sung with baritone earnestness to a tic-tac beat), and “Mama, You Been On My Mind” (with an oddly successful vocal syncopation and spiced by saxophone) find Cash creatively interpreting Bob Dylan material. Cash’s sense of social justice comes through on “All of God’s Children Ain’t Free,” while his rock-solid faith is made plain by “Amen.” Rollicking train songs (the title track), poetic invocations of the West (“You Wild Colorado”), haunting country parables (“The Long Black Veil”), and moody frontier ballads (“When It’s Springtime in Alaska”) add further color to this eclectic release. Johnny holds it all together with a commanding presence that’s by turns somber, tender, playful, and ornery. Orange Blossom Special belongs in any Cash fan’s collection.

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