Johnny Cash På Österåker Review

Live. Released 2008.  

BBC Review

His affection and sincerity throughout is undeniable.

Daryl Easlea 2008

Johnny Cash and prison. It's a bit like a sailor and an ocean. Although he never actually served time beyond a string of individual nights here and there, his outlaw stance combined with his high profile gigs at Folsom Prison and San Quentin have inextricably linked him with the penitentiary. He was also a fervent campaigner for prison reform and offender rehabilitation. På Österåker is a lovely curio; a reissue of his October 1972 concert from the Swedish jail, the first such show he'd played outside the US. Originally released as a 12-track album in 1973, this 35th Anniversary edition contains the whole concert.

There is no doubt of the warmth of the crowd's response, especially as Cash says in faltering Swedish, ''Thank you my friends, I hope you like our music''. However, with it being Scandinavia, it's all a trifle more civilised than his San Quentin audience, and it's easy to see why A Boy Named Sue was left off the original vinyl edition, as the inmates react similarly to the hit single but without such gusto. Cash's version of Kris Kristofferson's booze 'n' stoner song, Sunday Morning Coming Down (also unreleased), showcases the vulnerability and naked emotion in Cash's voice. There’s a fine regional take on San Quentin, Osteraker. Also here are Carl Perkins' rollicking run-throughs of Hi-Heel Sneakers and Blue Suede Shoes.

If you haven't any of Johnny Cash’s prison recordings, this may be the most dispensable, but that doesn't mean it is bereft of charm. It is Cash's ability to connect with his audience is his strongest suit. På Österåker is a worthy addition to the burgeoning Cash archive market, as his affection and sincerity throughout is undeniable.

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