Vinyl Vlog 075

Vinyl Vlog 075

Sunday, 19 April 2015
Vinyl Vlog

A deeper look at the grooves pressed into Johnny Cash’s Record Store Day-issued Koncert V Prague LP.

It’s incredible how great a difference ten years can make for a musician, but even more amazing is when it’s actually possible to hear that difference in their performance. In 1968, for example, Johnny Cash recorded his classic Live At Folsom Prison album; at the time, the singer was already developing a pretty serious drug problem (he’d become addicted to pills). It wasn’t easy to hear the effects of the drugs in his recordings at the time and, eventually, he did kick his habit so not many fans became privy to the singer’s substance abuse problems. By 1978 though, Cash had discovered and gotten hooked on amphetamines and, when he went to Europe on tour and recorded the show that he and his band performed in Prage before the backdrop of the Iron Curtain at Sport Hall in Prague on April 11, 1978, the toll that the drugs were taking on Cash was easy to gauge. Other than sounding a little rattled, a little confused and a little distracted, Cash really rushed his band through the show; in fact, this critic had to double check to make sure that his turntable was playing at the right speed. That is not to say that there is something off which is particularly unsettling.

Regardless of Cash’s physical condition, the audience in Prague is clearly ready and willing to be won over by Johnny Cash – so he brings a set which is very easy to like because it’s frontloded with hits.The A-side of the album knocks through a series of crowd-pleasing classics including “Ring Of Fire,” “Folsom Prison Blues” and “I Walk The Line” like a set of marching orders – quick, clean and incisive – but the crowd eats it all up jubilantly and that reception wins the hearts of the men on stage. It loosens them up.

The B-side of the album finds both Cash and the band in higher spirits as they address the crowd warmly and attempt to interact with them and prove they’re getting comfortable when they begin throwing some lesser known gems including “Casey Jones” and “Sunday Morning Coming Down” into the set and end on a positively jubilant note when they cover ”The Wabash Cannonball.” At each turn, listeners will be able to feel that, while not at all as obviously classic as an album like Live at Folsom Prison is, it still plays well. The album doesn’t exactly present the image of a band who was accustomed to having a lot of incredible moments outside of North America (they may have, but it feels as though the crowd in Prague is more excited because, “they may have, but it feels as though the crowd is in Prague is more excited because, “Look! It’s Johnny freakin’ Cash! He braved the Iron Curtain to come and now he’s here!”), but it’s respectable. It’s a really cool album to have stacked next to Live At Folsom Prison, because the pair show two very different portraits of Johnny Cash, even if both albums have some common songs between them.


Koncert V Prague will be released on Record Store Day, April 18, 2015. Click here for a list of participating locations.

Comments are closed.