Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Johnny Cash: The Sun Years [Rhino, 1990]
Here at the onset, hitched to a spare Sun aesthetic that's equally apparent in young Carl Perkins, young Elvis, even young Jerry Lee, Cash's natural fusion of folk and country is effortless. Whether covering Lonnie Donegan's novelty remake of Leadbelly's "Rock Island Line" or stroking the market with "Ballad of a Teenage Queen" or checking in with classics like "I Walk the Line" and "Train of Love" and "Get Rhythm" and "Guess Things Happen That Way" and "Folsom Prison Blues," he's down with the common man--implacably, unostentatiously, without having to think about it. And terse, incredibly terse: check "Come In Stranger," which tops all the road-babe songs it anticipates at 1:38. A