We get acoustic versions of hits like "Get Rhythm" and obscurities like "My Treasure", most of which are performed in a necessarily stark way that seems to prefigure his American Recordings albums. Some songs sound good in this setting while others are obvious demos, but the percussive wallop of the Tennessee Two is sorely missed.
It's obvious why the label signed the trio: These versions of "Leave That Junk Alone" and "Big River" percolate with prickly energy, and Cash exhibits fresh interpretive range. He and the Two rumble through an abortive take on Jimmie Rodgers' "Brakeman's Blues", which sounds like it's destined to fall apart, and deliver a poignant version of Leadbelly's "Goodnight Irene". With a sense of organizational purpose and of local music history, the first disc depicts Cash an artist hungry for success and willing to sell venetian blinds to get there.
When he signed with Columbia records in , he and his family moved out to Los Angeles, where Cash continued to record and dabbled in acting. There are many fine songs and many mediocre songs on the second disc, which spans through He does story-songs about outlaws and soldiers, some of which are still wrenching "Hardin Wouldn't Run" and some of which have aged poorly "Johnny Reb".
And then there's "Shifting, Whispering Sands", perhaps one of the most over-the-top recordings Cash ever made, complete with narration by Lorne Greene, best known as Ben Cartwright on "Bonanza". The portrait of Cash on this second disc is, unfortunately, fuzzy and poorly defined.
It showcases everything we know about him and very little we don't know. The compilation is subtitled Bootleg Volume II. Cash was a songwriter who almost always rooted his performances in the here and now, meaning right now — even when the lyrical sentiment was wistful or even nostalgic. From Memphis to Hollywood begins with a radio broadcast, with Cash performing on-air with the Tennessee Two.
And for a laugh, try listening to Cash read those hardware advertisements while you look at that famous picture of him flipping you off. This radio show takes up 15 minutes of the two hours of material on Memphis to Hollywood.
Does this sound daunting? Regardless, the mere mass-market release of these rarities is a treat, and carry through the aforementioned sense of time and place with a particular up-frontness.
Closing Comments and Theme. Texas Bill Strength. I Walk the Line. Get Rhythm. Train of Love. Country Boy. My Treasure. He'll Be a Friend. When I Think of You. I'll Cry for You. You're My Baby. Rock and Roll Ruby. Leave That Junk Alone. Brakeman's Blues [Incomplete]. Big River. I Couldn't Keep from Crying. Marty Robbins. New Mexico. Goodnight Irene.
Restless Kid. Its All Over. Track Listing - Disc 2. All Over Again. You Dreamer You. I'll Remember You. Johnny Yuma Theme. Five Minutes to Live. The Losing Kind. Locomotive Man. Girl in Saskatoon. There's a Mother Always Waiting. Johnny Reb. Merle Kilgore. Shifting, Whispering Sands. Send a Picture of Mother. Hardin Wouldn't Run. One Too Many Mornings. Bob Dylan. The Frozen Logger. James Stevens. Foolish Questions. Bottom of the Mountain.