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Ring of Fire: The Best of June Carter Cash

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Album Review

June Carter represented a vital link to country music founders the Carter Family, and when she married rockabilly-country singer Johnny Cash, her status as country music royalty was sealed. In a way, though, June Carter's musical legacy has long been less than obvious because of the stature of her husband. A number of Dualtone releases like Ring of Fire: The Best of June Carter Cash, however, have worked hard to place her in the spotlight. And while each of these recordings have fine moments, much of the music included finds June Carter Cash — vocally speaking — past her prime. Although it remains unclear in the liner notes where each song came from and whether it had been included on a previous album, most of the songs on Ring of Fire seem to have come from Press On in 1999 and Wildwood Flower in 2003. Songs from Press On, like Carter Cash's stripped-down version of "Ring of Fire," are really nicely done, bringing a new flavor to a timeless song (which she co-wrote). Songs like "Keep on the Sunny Side" from the second recording, however, remind one of a home recording made on great equipment. Production-wise, the guitars and harp ring true, but Carter Cash's vocals are very rough. Only "Jackson" and "If I Were a Carpenter," duets with Johnny Cash, reach back to older material (the late '60s), and they're sandwiched awkwardly in the middle of the album. Ring of Fire isn't a bad collection and the spare arrangements throughout bring a nice, authentic feel to these recordings. It's easy to feel, however, that Ring of Fire is mostly a repackaging of Press On and Wildwood Flower with a couple of wild cards thrown in for good measure. (The collection also adds three previously unreleased songs, but it's unclear how these qualify as "the best" of Cash's output since they've never been available before.) ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr., Rovi


Born: 23 June 1929 in Maces Springs, VA

Genre: Country

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Songwriter, singer, actress, comedienne, and matriarch of country music June Carter Cash was born Valerie June Carter in Maces Springs, VA, on June 23, 1929. Taught by her mother (the legendary Mother Maybelle Carter of the Carter Family) to play autoharp, June entered the spotlight in 1937 singing with her sisters Helen and Anita, eventually performing as the Carter Sisters after the death of June's uncle A.P. Her good humor and quick wit prompted June to perform comedy skits and monologues during...
Full Bio

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