Songwriter. six-string strummer. storyteller. country boy. rock star. folk hero. preacher. poet. drug addict. rebel. sinner. saint. victim. survivor. home wrecker. husband. father and more…
Yes you’re eyes do not deceive you its a new album from ‘The Man In Black’ himself. Ten years after the undisputed king of country passed away here’s a Johnny Cash album that was recorded in the early 80s and has never been heard before. At the time of these recordings he was signed to Columbia Records and his career was in a bit of a slump, a suggested reason why they never released it. His son found these recordings last year among a multitude of other material so its likely that Johnny’s estate will be releasing stuff for a long time to come.
It has also been suggested that the reason the album was shelved was because it was a little too pop for Johnny’s taste though he was never adverse to experimenting so I find that hard to believe. Throughout his career he tried to expand what people thought of country music and even though he always stayed within the country genre he’s responsible for shifting the boundaries of what we consider country music today.
To these ears though it sounds like classic Cash. His voice instantly taking me back to my childhood of sitting round the record player listening to my mammy’s Johnny Cash collection. All the adults I knew, especially the Irish ones, seemed to be a massive fan of his with their record collections bulging with his albums. it was impossible not to like him. The subject matter was so much darker than other country artists and lets face it he was as cool a fecker as ever there was in music! He was himself the quintessential Scotch-Irish American, with a bit of Native American too he use to say!
It was that background that was possibly responsible for why we looked at Johnny differently from other country stars. As Kris Kristofferson said of him
“He’s as comfortable with the poor and prisoners as he is with presidents. He’s crossed over all age boundaries. I like to think of him as Abraham Lincoln with a wild side.”
‘Out Among The Stars’ is generally a sprightly album with ‘Rock’n’roll Shoes’ as descriptive of the LP as the sentimental ‘After All’ is or the title track about a young man robbing a store which has a feel of ‘Folsom prison Blues’ about it. A cover of the Dave Edmunds and Carlene Carter duet “Baby Ride Easy” rolls along with spirit, an affectionate homage to ‘Tennessee’ is actually pretty good despite the addition of a children’s choir! and ‘I Drove Her Out Of My Mind’ is yer classic country’n’western outlaw track about murdering your ex-wife…
13 tracks at just under 40 minutes is pretty good value and though their are a couple of duffers, the duet with Waylon Jennings of Hank Snow’s classic ‘I’m Moving On’ springing to mind, what Johnny Cash album would be right without one or two, it still adds up to a very strong album and according to those in the know some Cash experts are already considering it to have been one of his better 1980’s albums so the reasons behind its shelving remain a bit of a mystery but we can be glad that it saw the light of day eventually.
more on the discovery of the album here
THE BLACK PROJECT
on another note Grinning Beggar and Paddyrock, two of the biggest names in celtic-punk have united and are planning on bringing out a celtic-punk Johnny Cash tribute album. All the details here
Tagged: Johnny Cash