Johnny Cash left Sun Records in 1958 to sign with Columbia, and three years later he was a bigger star than ever and well on his way to becoming one of the living legends of country music. Sun, naturally, wanted to take advantage of Cash's growing popularity, and 1961's Now Here's Johnny Cash was a "new" album from their former star tacked together from single sides, unreleased tunes and demos gussied up with overdubs for their release on LP. Now Here's Johnny Cash is a rather curious hodgepodge, but it's also a satisfying listen and features a handful of top-shelf tunes. "Cry! Cry! Cry!," "Hey Porter" and "Home of the Blues" had all been hits for Cash, and with good reason, while two of his early compositions, "Port of Lonely Hearts" and "My Treasure," made their first public appearances on this album.
While "Sugartime" and "Down the Street to 301" are just too sentimental to sound comfortable coming from Cash, he handles them with graceful aplomb, and his take on Don Gibson's "Oh Lonesome Me" is one of the better renditions of the old chestnut. Much of the rest of the album feels more like filler than anything else, but every song features the voice of Johnny Cash, always an impressive thing to witness, and while there are many better collections of his recordings for Sun, on its own terms it's not a bad way to pass 25 minutes.