Newly Remastered Releases Johnny Cash Mercury Recordings of Johnny Cash 1986-1991
Fri Jul 03, 2020

In the mid-1980s as Johnny Cash found himself between labels, Mercury Records snatched up the country legend for what would end up being a prolific string of six albums in five years. The records, released from 1986 to 1991, were a diverse collection that included a notable reunion with fellow Sun Records alumni Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins, star-studded collaborations with Paul McCartney and Linda McCartneyGlen CampbellWaylon JenningsEmmylou HarrisHank Williams Jr. and others, inspired takes on songs from Elvis CostelloGuy Clark and Harry Chapin, the Man in Black revisiting his classic hits, and some of the finest songs ever written by Cash. Despite the quality of material, Cash’s stint with Mercury has never been revisited—until now.

Now, Cash's often overlooked and underappreciated chapter of his body of work are available for revisiting with a suite releases via Mercury/UMe including a comprehensive new box set, The Complete Mercury Recordings 1986-1991, and a new greatest hits album, Easy Rider: The Best Of The Mercury Recordings, a newly assembled collection that compiles 24 highlights selected from Cash's Mercury catalog. Easy Rider is available to stream now or as a single CD or double LP.

Stream/purchase: The Complete Mercury Recordings https://JohnnyCash.lnk.to/CompleteMercuryAlbums

Stream/purchase: Easy Rider: The Best Of The Mercury Recordingshttps://JohnnyCash.lnk.to/EasyRiderBestOf

The Complete Mercury Recordings 1986-1991, available digitally, on 7CD or 7LP on 180-gram vinyl, collects all six albums – Class of '55Memphis Rock & Roll Homecoming (1986), Johnny Cash Is Coming to Town (1987)Water from the Wells of Home (1988)Classic Cash: Hall of Fame Series (1988)Boom Chicka Boom (1990) and The Mystery of Life (1991), and –  that Cash recorded during his Mercury tenure and presents them together for the first time in a handsome slipcase emblazoned with the distinctive bold Cash logo. All of the albums have been remastered from the original Mercury master tapes by noted engineer Kevin Reeves at UMG Studios Nashville. The set was assembled by Grammy Award-winning producer Bill Levenson and features extensive new liner notes by veteran music journalist Scott Schinder.

In addition, all of the albums are also now available individually on 180-gram black vinyl, with Classic Cash: Hall Of Fame Series as a two-LP set. This marks the first time that Cash's Mercury albums have been reissued.

The CD and digital versions of The Complete Mercury Recordings 1986-1991 are augmented with several rare or previously unreleased tracks and an additional 20-track album of spare early mixes aptly titled Classic Cash: Hall Of Fame Series (Early Mixes), mastered from tapes newly discovered in the Mercury vaults. Although these never-before-heard versions are not included in the vinyl box, they're being released on October 24 as a Record Store Day First exclusive, as a stand-alone limited edition double LP.

While the mid ‘80s to early ‘90s saw Cash, who was still touring heavily, a bit creatively adrift, he never stopped making distinctive, personally charged music. Signing with Mercury after ending his almost 30-year relationship with Columbia, Cash’s output for Mercury demonstrated that his musical gifts remained as sharp as ever.

Cash’s first album for Mercury, the all-star session, Class of '55: Memphis Rock & Roll Homecoming, reunited him with fellow Sun Records alumni Jerry Lee LewisRoy Orbison and Carl Perkins. With veteran Memphis producer Chips Moman behind the board, the four singers tackle a mix of old and new material, including the Cash-led "I Will Rock and Roll with You" and the Presley tribute, "We Remember the King." Another Elvis ode, John Fogerty's "Big Train from Memphis," features a vocal chorus that includes Fogerty, June Carter Cash, Rick Nelson, Dave EdmundsDan Penn and the Judds.

Johnny Cash Is Coming to Town reteamed Cash with producer "Cowboy" Jack Clement, who as Sun Records' house engineer had overseen many of Cash's '50s sessions and written some of his early hits. The album’s studio team includes wife June Carter Cash and her singing siblings Anita and Helen and daughter Carlene Carter, Cash’s then son-in-law Marty Stuart, and Waylon Jennings, who lends his voice to the warmly nostalgic "The Night Hank Williams Came to Town." Other highlights include rousing readings of Elvis Costello's "The Big Light" and James Talley's "W. Lee O'Daniel (and the Light Crust Dough Boys)."

With Clement producing again, the star-studded Water from the Wells of Home features guest appearances by Cash’s wife June Carter Cash and daughter Rosanne Cash, along with Glen CampbellJessi Colter, the Everly BrothersTom T. HallEmmylou HarrisWaylon JenningsPaul McCartney and Linda McCartney and Hank Williams Jr. on an eclectic set of material including "That Old Wheel," a duet with Williams that became Cash's highest-charting single in over a decade.

Classic Cash: Hall of Fame Series finds Cash revisiting such vintage classics as "I Walk the Line," "Ring of Fire," "Folsom Prison Blues," "Get Rhythm," "I Still Miss Someone" and "Sunday Morning Coming Down" with considerable gusto.

With veteran Nashville musician Bob Moore producing, Boom Chicka Boom —named in honor of the trademark rhythm that Cash pioneered in the '50s—is a straightforward vehicle for Cash's talent, vision and humor. Highlights include the surreal Cash composition "A Backstage Pass," a remake of Harry Chapin’s "Cat's in the Cradle" and the poignant "Hidden Shame," which Elvis Costello wrote for Cash. The CD of Boom Chicka Boom includes seven bonus tracks not on the original album, including several b-sides and early versions and the unreleased gem "I Draw The Line."

The Mystery of Life, again produced by Clement, emphasized Cash’s own songwriting, e.g. "The Greatest Cowboy of Them All" and "I'm An Easy Rider," while also dipping into the songbooks of Tom T. Hall and John Prine. The CD version of The Mystery of Life also includes Cash's historic collaboration with U2, "The Wanderer," which appears as an extended version previously released only on the soundtrack album of director Wim Wenders’ film “Faraway, So Close.” The song also closes out the best of collection.

The Complete Mercury Recordings 1986-1991 and Easy Rider: The Best Of The Mercury Recording represent an overdue deep dive into Johnny Cash's Mercury catalog, revealing its importance as the bridge between his better-known work for other labels. As mentioned by Schinder in the box set’s liner notes, these recordings “stand as a notable transitional body of work, and an illuminating prelude to the full-blown creative resurgence that Cash would experience in the 1990s.”

Johhny Cash The Mercury YearsTHE COMPLETE MERCURY ALBUMS 1986-1991
CD TRACK LISTING

CD1: CARL PERKINS / JERRY LEE LEWIS / ROY ORBISON / JOHNNY CASH – CLASS OF ’55: MEMPHIS ROCK & ROLL HOMECOMING (1986)
1. Birth Of Rock And Roll
2. Sixteen Candles
3. Class Of '55
4. Waymore’s Blues
5. We Remember The King
6. Coming Home
7. Rock And Roll (Fais-Do-Do)
8. Keep My Motor Running
9. I Will Rock And Roll With You
10. Big Train (From Memphis)

CD2: JOHNNY CASH IS COMING TO TOWN (1987)
1. The Big Light
2. The Ballad Of Barbara
3. I'd Rather Have You
4. Let Him Roll
5. The Night Hank Williams Came To Town
6. Sixteen Tons
7. Letters From Home
8. W. Lee O'Daniel (And The Light Crust Dough Boys)
9. Heavy Metal (Don't Mean Rock And Roll To Me)
10. My Ship Will Sail

CD3: WATER FROM THE WELLS OF HOME (1988)
1. Ballad Of A Teenage Queen (With Roseanne Cash & The Everly Brothers)
2. As Long As I Live (With Emmylou Harris)
3. Where Did We Go Right (With June Carter Cash and The Carter Family)
4. The Last Of The Drifters (With Tom T. Hall)
5. Call Me The Breeze (With John Carter Cash)
6. That Old Wheel (With Hank Williams, Jr.)
7. Sweeter Than The Flowers (With Waylon Jennings)
8. A Croft In Clachan (The Ballad Of Rob MacDunn) (With Glen Campbell)
9. New Moon Over Jamaica (With Paul McCartney)
10. Water From The Wells Of Home (With John Carter Cash)

CD4: CLASSIC CASH: HALL OF FAME SERIES (1988)
1. Get Rhythm
2. Tennessee Flat Top Box
3. Long Black Veil
4. A Thing Called Love
5. I Still Miss Someone
6. Cry, Cry, Cry
7. Blue Train
8. Sunday Morning Coming Down
9. Five Feet High And Rising
10. Peace In The Valley
11. Don't Take Your Guns To Town
12. Home Of The Blues
13. Guess Things Happen That Way
14. I Got Stripes
15. I Walk The Line
16. Ring Of Fire
17. Ballad Of Ira Hayes
18. The Ways Of A Woman In Love
19. Folsom Prison Blues
20. Supper Time

CD5: CLASSIC CASH: HALL OF FAME SERIES (EARLY MIXES) (1987)
1. Sunday Morning Coming Down (early mix)
2. Get Rhythm (early mix)
3. I Walk The Line (early mix)
4. Long Black Veil (early mix)
5. I Still Miss Someone (early mix)
6. Blue Train (early mix)
7. I Got Stripes (early mix)
8. Peace In The Valley (early mix)
9. Five Feet High And Rising (early mix)
10. Folsom Prison Blues (early mix)
11. Cry, Cry, Cry (early mix)
12. Don't Take Your Guns To Town (early mix)
13. Tennessee Flat Top Box (early mix)
14. A Thing Called Love (early mix)
15. The Ways Of A Woman In Love (early mix)
16. Ballad Of Ira Hayes (early mix)
17. Guess Things Happen That Way (early mix)
18. Home Of The Blues (early mix)
19. Supper Time (early mix)
20. Ring Of Fire (early mix)

CD6: BOOM CHICKA BOOM (1990)
1. A Backstage Pass
2. Cat's In The Cradle
3. Farmer's Almanac
4. Don't Go Near The Water
5. Family Bible
6. Harley
7. I Love You, Love You
8. Hidden Shame
9. Monteagle Mountain
10. That's One You Owe Me
11. Veteran’s Day (b-side of “The Mystery Of Life”)
12. I Shall Be Free (b-side of “Farmer's Almanac”)
13. I Draw The Line (previously unreleased)
14. A Backstage Pass (early version)
15. Harley (early version)
16. That's One You Owe Me (early version)
17. Veteran’s Day (early version)

CD7: THE MYSTERY OF LIFE (1991)
1. The Greatest Cowboy Of Them All
2. I'm An Easy Rider
3. The Mystery Of Life
4. Hey Porter
5. Beans For Breakfast
6. Goin' By The Book
7. Wanted Man
8. I'll Go Somewhere And Sing My Songs Again (with Tom T. Hall)
9. The Hobo Song
10. Angel And The Badman
11. The Wanderer (with U2) [Long version from the Faraway, So Close!soundtrack album]

THE COMPLETE MERCURY ALBUMS 1986-1991
LP TRACK LISTING

LP1: CARL PERKINS / JERRY LEE LEWIS / ROY ORBISON / JOHNNY CASH – CLASS OF ’55: MEMPHIS ROCK & ROLL HOMECOMING (1986)
SIDE A
1. Birth Of Rock And Roll
2. Sixteen Candles
3. Class Of '55
4. Waymore’s Blues
5. We Remember The King

SIDE B
1. Coming Home
2. Rock And Roll (Fais-Do-Do)
3. Keep My Motor Running
4. I Will Rock And Roll With You
5. Big Train (From Memphis)

LP2: JOHNNY CASH IS COMING TO TOWN (1987)
SIDE A
1. The Big Light
2. The Ballad Of Barbara
3. I'd Rather Have You
4. Let Him Roll
5. The Night Hank Williams Came To Town

SIDE B
1. Sixteen Tons
2. Letters From Home
3. W. Lee O'Daniel (And The Light Crust Dough Boys)
4. Heavy Metal (Don't Mean Rock And Roll To Me)
5. My Ship Will Sail

LP3: WATER FROM THE WELLS OF HOME (1988)
SIDE A
1. Ballad Of A Teenage Queen (With Roseanne Cash & The Everly Brothers)
2. As Long As I Live (With Emmylou Harris)
3. Where Did We Go Right (With June Carter Cash and The Carter Family)
4. The Last Of The Drifters (With Tom T. Hall)
5. Call Me The Breeze (With John Carter Cash)

SIDE B
1. That Old Wheel (With Hank Williams, Jr.)
2. Sweeter Than The Flowers (With Waylon Jennings)
3. A Croft In Clachan (The Ballad Of Rob MacDunn) (With Glen Campbell)
4. New Moon Over Jamaica (With Paul McCartney)
5. Water From The Wells Of Home (With John Carter Cash)

LP4: CLASSIC CASH: HALL OF FAME SERIES (1988)
SIDE A
1. Get Rhythm
2. Tennessee Flat Top Box
3. Long Black Veil
4. A Thing Called Love
5. I Still Miss Someone

SIDE B
1. Cry, Cry, Cry
2. Blue Train
3. Sunday Morning Coming Down
4. Five Feet High And Rising
5. Peace In The Valley

LP5: CLASSIC CASH: HALL OF FAME SERIES (1988)
SIDE C
1. Don't Take Your Guns To Town
2. Home Of The Blues
3. Guess Things Happen That Way
4. I Got Stripes
5. I Walk The Line

SIDE D
1. Ring Of Fire
2. Ballad Of Ira Hayes
3. The Ways Of A Woman In Love
4. Folsom Prison Blues
5. Supper Time

LP6: BOOM CHICKA BOOM (1990)
SIDE A
1. A Backstage Pass
2. Cat's In The Cradle
3. Farmer's Almanac
4. Don't Go Near The Water
5. Family Bible

SIDE B
1. Harley
2. I Love You, Love You
3. Hidden Shame
4. Monteagle Mountain
5. That's One You Owe Me

LP7: THE MYSTERY OF LIFE (1991)
SIDE A
1. The Greatest Cowboy Of Them All
2. I'm An Easy Rider
3. The Mystery Of Life
4. Hey Porter
5. Beans For Breakfast

SIDE B
1. Goin' By The Book
2. Wanted Man
3. I'll Go Somewhere And Sing My Songs Again (with Tom T. Hall)
4. The Hobo Song
5. Angel And The Badman

EASY RIDER – THE BEST OF THE MERCURY RECORDINGS
CD TRACK LISTING
1. Waymore Blues (with Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison and Carl Perkins)
2. We Remember The King
3. The Big Light
4. The Night Hank Williams Came To Town (with Waylon Jennings)
5. Let Him Roll
6. W. Lee O'Daniel (And The Light Crust Dough Boys)
7. Ballad Of A Teenage Queen (with Roseanne Cash & The Everly Brothers)
8. The Last Of The Drifters (with Tom T. Hall)
9. That Old Wheel (with Hank Williams Jr.)
10. Get Rhythm
11. Tennessee Flat Top Box
12. Sunday Morning Coming Down
13. Veteran’s Day
14. A Backstage Pass
15. Cat's In The Cradle
16. Farmer's Almanac
17. Monteagle Mountain
18. I Shall Be Free
19. I'm An Easy Rider
20. The Greatest Cowboy Of Them All
21. Hey Porter
22. The Mystery Of Life
23. Goin' By The Book
24. The Wanderer (with U2)

2LP TRACK LISTING
SIDE A
1. Waymore Blues (with Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison and Carl Perkins)
2. We Remember The King
3. The Big Light
4. The Night Hank Williams Came To Town (with Waylon Jennings)
5. Let Him Roll
6. W. Lee O'Daniel (And The Light Crust Dough Boys)

SIDE B
1. Ballad Of A Teenage Queen (with Roseanne Cash & The Everly Brothers)
2. The Last Of The Drifters (with Tom T. Hall)
3. That Old Wheel (with Hank Williams Jr.)
4. Get Rhythm
5. Tennessee Flat Top Box
6. Sunday Morning Coming Down

SIDE C
1. Veteran’s Day
2. A Backstage Pass
3. Cat's In The Cradle
4. Farmer's Almanac
5. Monteagle Mountain
6. I Shall Be Free

SIDE D
1. I'm An Easy Rider
2. The Greatest Cowboy Of Them All
3. Hey Porter
4. The Mystery Of Life
5. Goin' By The Book
6. The Wanderer (with U2)