1. “At Folsom Prison” (1968)
Cash’s first live album, recorded at Folsom State Prison in California, is widely considered to be one of his best. The raw energy and emotion of the performance, captured perfectly by producer Bob Johnston, made for a truly classic album.
2. “American Recordings” (1994)
“American Recordings” was Cash’s comeback album, released after he had been largely out of the spotlight for several years. The sparse, intimate production style suited Cash perfectly, and the album features some of his best later-period songs.
3. “The Man Comes Around” (2002)
“The Man Comes Around” was Jonny Cash’s final studio album, and it features some of his most poignant and beautiful writing. The elegiac tone of the album is offset by the strength of Cash’s performances, making it a fitting tribute to his legacy.
4. “Unearthed” (2003)
“Unearthed” is a posthumous release consisting of previously unreleased recordings, outtakes, and alternate versions of well-known songs. The collection is a fascinating glimpse into Cash’s creative process, and the quality of the material is uniformly high.
5. “American III: Solitary Man” (2000)
“American III: Solitary Man” was the third installment in Cash’s “American” series of albums, and it features some of his best work from the later part of his career. The album is marked by its introspective lyrics and stripped-down production, which highlight Cash’s remarkable storytelling ability.
6. “Unchained” (1996)
“Unchained” is another posthumous release, this time consisting of recordings made for American Recordings that were not used on the final album. The material is raw and often unfinished, but it provides a fascinating look into Cash’s creative process.
7. “Blood, Sweat and Tears” (1963)
“Blood, Sweat and Tears” is a live album recorded during Cash’s famous concert at Madison Square Garden in 1963. The album captures the excitement of the event perfectly and features some of Cash’s most iconic performances.
8. ” Nashville Skyline” (1969)
“Nashville Skyline” was Cash’s foray into country music, and it features some of his most relaxed and easygoing recordings. The album is full of classics, including “I Walk the Line” and “Ring of Fire.”
9. “One Piece at a Time” (1976)
“One Piece at a Time” was Cash’s last major hit single, and it epitomizes his playful attitude towards music. The song is a lighthearted ode to the working class, and its catchy chorus has made it a timeless classic.
10. “At San Quentin” (1969)
“At San Quentin” was another live album, this time recorded at the notorious prison of the same name. The album captures the tension and excitement of the performance perfectly and features some of Cash’s most impassioned singing.