At San Quentin is the second prison concert album by Johnny Cash and was originally released in 1969. It followed on from the success of 1968’s At Folsom Prison. Like its predecessor, At San Quentin features an eponymous song damning the institution. It also includes the classic version of A Boy Named Sue.
Vinyl LP £15.49 88875111981
Reissue LP on Legacy.
7/10 Penrith Steve 17th September 2015
“At San Quentin” was the follow-up to the successful “At Folsom Prison” and by this time, Johnny Cash’s career was well and truly back on track. The cover even suggests it: his shadowy figure caught in the stage light, his head bowed – this is an album by a true star.
The set list has a few more of his greatest hits than its predecessor which was tailored for its audience of inmates. Here he runs through “I Walk the Line”, “Ring of Fire”, “Daddy Sang Bass” and a crowd-pleasing rendition of “A Boy Named Sue”.
Johnny Cash really has them on his side. In his monologue preceding “I Walk the Line” he tells the crowd that the gig is being filmed for TV and recorded for an album. He says that he’s been told to “stand like this and stand like that” and which songs to do. He then says “I just don’t get it, I want to do what you want me to do” which is greeted by a big cheer. He also does two versions of “San Quentin” a song in which he states “San Quentin, I hate every inch of you” much to the enjoyment of the audience. There’s a heartfelt rendition of “(There’ll be) Peace In The Valley” which seems at odds with the location but nevertheless goes down a storm. After that, Johnny Cash thanks the prison warden and the guards which is met with a chorus of boos. Cash says to the crowd “Now you don’t mean that do you” which is met with cheers. All this shows how Cash can relate to both sides. Classic stuff.
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