September 25th, 2008
02:44 PM ET

New-old Johnny Cash, Kinks

Good things to look forward to this fall:

– The Associated Press is reporting that a lost recording by Johnny Cash, “I Am the Nation,” will be released as part of “Johnny Cash’s America,” a documentary on the Biography Channel. The documentary will run on October 23; a DVD/CD companion package comes out October 28.

“I Am the Nation” is a recitation in which Cash talks about the United States through mentions of important people and events in American history. The recording was found among his personal effects after his death.

Cash, of course, is no stranger to statements about America; indeed, some of his greatest songs touch on issues that have united - or divided - the country. Think of “Ragged Old Flag” or “Man in Black,” or songs focusing on specific figures such as “The Ballad of Ira Hayes.”

Kinks fans, get ready. The long-awaited Kinks box set is going to be a reality December 1 - at least in the UK. It’s called “Picture Book,” and it will run through the band’s entire career from 1964 onward.

According to Universal Music, which is releasing the set, the six-disc collection was compiled by Ray Davies and features an essay on the Kinks by rock critic Peter Doggett. (I guess John Mendelsohn wasn’t available.) The box includes more than 100 tracks, “a third of which are previously unreleased or new to CD,” according to a press release.

Now, anyone who’s followed this space knows I’m a huge Kinks fan, and I can’t wait for this box. But all I can find is references to the UK release; I’m trying to determine if it’s coming out in the U.S., where the Kinks had a more convoluted record company history. (I’ve got an e-mail to a Universal Music publicist - I’ll follow up if I get any response.)

Also, I hope the recordings - which were sonically muddled in the Shel Talmy days, though that was part of their force - have been remastered and cleaned up a bit … though not too much. Castle and Sanctuary have done a nice job with the titles they’ve handled; those works should be the model.

Thanks to Ron Sexsmith for the tip (and for those who like Sexsmith, keep an eye on for a forthcoming story - and go see him on tour. He’s terrific).

- Todd Leopold, Entertainment Producer

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