MGF Reviews Johnny Cash – The Johnny Cash Christmas Special 1976 and 1977 [DVD]

Johnny Cash – The Johnny Cash Christmas Special 1976
Shout! Factory (11/13/07)
Unrated
50 minutes
Country / Christmas

Johnny Cash – The Johnny Cash Christmas Special 1977
Shout! Factory (11/13/07)
Unrated
50 minutes
Country / Christmas

Just in time for the holidays, a little glimpse into history for those who love the classics…

In this case, we’re treated to a country classic (and hall-of-famer) tackling Christmas classics. In 1976, Johnny Cash tried his hand at a holiday special, inviting a camera crew and a slew of friends to his family home and farm in Tennessee. Tony Orlando, Roy Clark, Barbara Mandrell and Billy Graham tell tales and share songs with the Cash family.

In fact, the program ended up being so successful that the Cash family tried it again in 1977, this time with The Statler Brothers, Roy Clark, Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison. To switch things up for this edition, the show is recorded on stage but is still full of all the charm (and a little more heavy on the Christmas music).

Johnny Cash was a natural storyteller, and his voice captivates, whether singing or spinning a yarn. But while he’s the obvious and deserved star of the shows, it’s the guests that steal the show at times—Roy Orbison with a rendition of “Oh, Pretty Woman”, Jerry Lee Lewis with a stellar “White Christmas”, or June Carter Cash doing a rousing version of “O Little Town of Bethlehem” (over footage of Cash visiting the Holy Land). But perhaps nothing is quite as amazing as Cash, Orbison, Lewis and Carl Perkins sharing the stage for “This Train Is Bound for Glory”, an all-star tribute to Elvis Presley (who had passed away about two months before the filming).

Sure, it’s all a little dated at this point, but it takes you back to a simpler time, and I can’t think of anything being produced these days that comes close to capturing the same family feel of the holidays (let alone with such religious undertones).

Shout! Factory has a deal with the Country Music Hall of Fame, and these DVDs have been created off the shows which were archived there. The full-frame video seems pretty clear, obviously cleared up since the original airing, and the shows’ audio is presented in a simple, yet clear, front mix.

If you love this kind of music, are a Johnny Cash fan, or maybe just want to own a little piece of history, these are perfect additions to any collection, especially given the time of year and subject matter (it’s Christmas, people!).

Rating:

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