Johnny Cash Photo: Associated Press / 1969
A never-heard Johnny Cash live album from 1968 recorded by longtime Grateful Dead associate Owsley “Bear” Stanley in San Francisco is set for release on Sept. 24, the late country icon’s label announced on Thursday, June 24.
Cash’s “At the Carousel Ballroom, April 24, 1968” was recorded at a venue operated by members of the Dead and Jefferson Airplane days before the release of his best-selling live album, “At Folsom Prison,” and six months before the arrival of its storied follow-up “At San Quentin.” The forthcoming release serves as another potent document of Cash’s imperial phase, featuring a setlist that drew from his jailhouse favorites like “I Walk the Line,” “Long Black Veil” and “Ring of Fire,” alongside a pair of Bob Dylan covers (“Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright,” and Cash’s earliest known recording of “One Too Many Mornings”), as well as some of his own deep cuts? such as “The Ballad of Ira Hayes.”
“Going to Memphis,” the first song released from the set, is a cover of a Black chain-gang chant that was first recorded by Cash in 1959.
“It is genuinely different from any Johnny Cash show from that era,” Dennis McNally, Grateful Dead publicist and historian, told The Chronicle. “It was just Johnny, June Carter Cash and the Memphis Three doing a Nashville country spectacular in front of 700 hippies on a Wednesday night.”
The live album, which will be released on CD and as a double vinyl set, features new essays by Johnny and June Carter Cash’s son John Carter Cash, and Stanley’s son Starfinder Stanley, Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir and Widespread Panic’s Dave Schools, as well as new artwork by Susan Archie.
“At the Carousel Ballroom” also includes a reproduction of the original concert poster by Steve Catron.?
Stanley, who created the first public address system specifically dedicated to music in 1966 and was responsible for the Dead’s signature Wall of Sound, created a live album that stands in contrast with Cash’s popular prison recordings, the singer’s voice mixed entirely in the right channel and his band the Tennessee Three on the left channel.?
“When you hear this, you feel like you are on the stage with the band,” Starfinder said in a statement.?
Indeed, McNally said it was more intimate than the usual Cash show of the era.
“Bear really knew how to make live recordings and he did his usual stunning job with one of the great American voices,” he said.
1. “Cocaine Blues
2. “Long Black Veil
3. “Orange Blossom Special (CD and Digital only)
4. “Going to Memphis
5. “The Ballad of Ira Hayes
6. “Rock Island Line
7. “Guess Things Happen That Way
8. “One Too Many Mornings
9. “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right
10. “Give My Love to Rose
11. “Green, Green Grass of Home
12. “Old Apache Squaw
14. “Forty Shades of Green
15. “Bad News
17. “Tall Lover Man
18. “June’s Song Introduction
19. “Wildwood Flower
20. “Foggy Mountain Top
21. “This Land Is Your Land
22. “Wabash Cannonball
23. “Worried Man Blues
24. “Long Legged Guitar Pickin’ Man
25. “Ring of Fire”
26. “Big River”
27. “Don’t Take Your Guns to Town”
28. “I Walk the Line”
Aidin Vaziri is The San Francisco Chronicle’s pop music critic. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @MusicSF