From the Vault...


Johnny Cash
"American Recordings"

© American Recordings Rec Year of Release: 199

track listing
  • Deila's Gone
  • Let The Train Blow The Whistle
  • The Beast In Me
  • Drive On
  • Why Me Lord
  • Thirteen
  • Oh Bury Me Not
    A Cowboy's Prayer)
  • Bird On A Wire
  • Tennessee Stud
  • Down There By The Train
  • Redemption
  • Like A Soldier
  • The Man Who
    Wouldn't Cry

  • WSVNRadio Archives
    A B C D E F G H I J K L M
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    Johnny Cash
    "American Recordings"

    Johnny Cash is a Legend.

    In the past two decades, we've seen comeback trails for music artists who had they heyday in the 60s and 70s: Tina Turner, John Fogerty, Roy Orbison, Cher, and most recently, Bad Company. It also happened for country giant Johnny Cash, who returned in 1994 with American Recordings, an album that features just Cash's vocals, and an accoustic guitar.

    You know you're famous when your video appears on Beavis & Butthead. Believe it or not, Cash's "Delia's Gone" appeared on that show, as the dynamic duo critiqued Cash's video. The song is sad, and so was the video, with its eerie presence.

    "Let The Train Blow The Whistle" is a nostalgia trip back to Sun Records. It has the hillbilly country style made famous by Sam Phillips, who ran Sun in the 1950s. "The Beast In Me" is a simple Cash song, in the familar Cash style. "Drive On" is a story-telling song, as his previous 1970s hits, "One Piece At A Time" and "A Boy Named Sue."

    One of my all time favorite country songs is featured here, as Johnny Cash recorded his own version of Kris Kristofferson's "Why Me Lord". It's a very well done version; it's a little bit faster than Kristofferson's, but of the two, I would have to say the better version goes to Kristofferson, being so adapted to that version. "Thirteen" is a sad tale, where it tells the story of living the hard life, similar to Cash's personal life. "Oh, Bury Me Not (Introduction: A Cowboy's Prayer)" is a talking song as Cash tells the story in talking to the Lord in the everyday happenings of life (A Cowboy's Prayer). Cash then breaks into song afterwards and throughout the rest of the song.

    Leonard Cohen's "Bird On The Wire"; a song that is a great, beautiful ballad. Every version I have heard (there are two to my knowledge; Cash's version, and Joe Cocker). They are truly phenomenal, even though I have never heard Cohen's version himself. "Tennessee Stud" is a song that seems to be recorded in front of a live audience. This song works extremely well with the gentle accoustic playing, and Cash's genuine unmistakable voice.

    You can imagine seeing a train roll down the track, as Cash sings "Down There By The Train," another gentle sounding song, as the train slowly rides down the rails. "Redemption" has an early Dylan atmosphere, with the Dylan-inspired guitar strumming. "Like A Soldier" is obviously a story of being a soldier getting over the war. And like all the songs on this album, it is truly entertaining. The album closes with "The Man Who Wouldn't Cry", another song in which a live audience is watching. It's a comedical song, lyrically, as this song has a Tom Petty atmosphere, where Tom Petty himself could easily just pick up an accoustic guitar and sing along.

    Johnny Cash wrote five songs on this album. Other writers included Nick Lowe, Tom Waits, Loudon Wainwright III, and suprisingly, Glenn Danzig. Danzig had commented, that he does not like any other music artists, but he made one exception -- he truly admired Johnny Cash as the only artist he would listen to, likewise work with, as he passed his song, "Thirteen" to Cash.

    Johnny Cash's comeback album American Recordings is different than the common songs heard famous in Cash's prominent hitmaking years. The album works out so well, being the fact that just a guitar and Cash's voice works together so well. They both blend together pleasantly, and it's very easy to listen to this album again and again. It also features some gospel-inspired songs, another area of music that Johnny Cash has always admired.

    This kind of a album was a great move for Cash, despite he had been considered "washed up" in the 1980s, to be replaced by the newest country acts at the time. With the success of American Recordings and his 1996 release, Unchained, Cash responded by having his picture taken for Billboard Magazine, with his middle finger extended in anger, on how he felt for being jerked around, and being called a has-been. Johnny Cash won; his American Recordings label (most known for having rap and and hardcore metal rock acts) created a new and successful chapter for him, by gaining a new generation of fans.

    Call it Johnny Cash Unplugged; call it an album closely related to Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska. It can also be compared to the early beginnings of Bob Dylan. Either way, American Recordings is a great album to listen to, and a great album to relax by. Whether you're familiar with Johnny Cash or not, this album should get a 3-star rating from anyone, after they hear this album.

    © All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of American Recordings Record and is used for reference purposes only.

    Previous Review: #643
    Emerson, Lake & Palmer--Works, Volume 1
    Next Review: #645
    Tom Waits--Small Change