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American Recordings Original recording reissued

143 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Original recording reissued, March 5, 2002
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Out of print in the U.S.! Johnny Cash had already recorded some of the most important Country albums in the history of the genre, yet, although he was still making quality music throughout the '80s, record sales and label support were the lowest he'd ever experienced in his entire career. By the early '90s, he was without a label for the first time in four decades. Longtime fan, label owner and producer Rick Rubin stepped in, asked Johnny to return to his roots and together, they re-created the legend of the Man In Black. Features Cash performing his own compositions as well as songs from Loudon Wainwright, Leonard Cohen, Nick Lowe, Tom Waits and Glenn Danzig. American Recordings earned Johnny a 1995 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album. A stunning return to form. Warner.

In 1994 Cash stunned the music world with this commanding collection of 13 solo acoustic performances that roll from gospel to cowboy to sarcastic folk. Minimalism had long been Cash's meal ticket, but this time around, producer Rick Rubin stripped it all away, recording the bulk of the record in Cash's cabin or his own living room (two cuts were captured live at the Viper Room in front of an emphatic audience). Cash offers five typically direct and vivid originals, but he also seizes control of songs by Kris Kristofferson, Nick Lowe, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, and Loudon Wainwright. Forty years after "Hey Porter," Cash delivers a pure, naked, and incredibly moving record that, dare we say, rivals the impact of his greatest achievements. --Marc Greilsamer
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 5, 2002)
  • Original Release Date: 1994
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording reissued
  • Label: American
  • ASIN: B000062X9D
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (143 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,128 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

189 of 199 people found the following review helpful By A. Wolverton VINE VOICE on September 21, 2003
Format: Audio CD
It was a completely unexpected move. In 1994, country music legend Johnny Cash agrees to cut an album produced by rap producer Rick Rubin for Rubin's American Recordings label. The result: The first of four priceless recordings that rival anything else from Cash's outstanding body of work.
The collection includes old songs, new songs, songs written by Cash, and songs written by others. Cash's music has always been marked by great storytelling and honesty, but this recording takes the Man in Black's storytelling and honesty to a whole other level. When you listen to "The Beast in Me," you hear the raw honesty in Cash's voice and you know that he's lived every word of Nick Lowe's lyrics. "Drive On" addresses one of Cash's most passionate topics: the trails and tribulations of Vietnam veterans returning home and the people who don't understand them. "Thirteen" is a dark, brutally exposed portrayal of a life gone wrong, one that has never been on track and never will be. Who else but Cash can convincingly sing the lyric "I pray you don't look at me/I pray I don't look back"?
It took a lot of courage for Cash to do this album. Think about it: Columbia Records had dropped him years before. Now here he was, making a recording not with his band, but with only his voice and his guitar. With one man and one guitar, there's not much you can hide. If the music is true and honest, it'll come through. If it's not, that'll come through too. But the result is true, naked, honest, courageous music. It doesn't get any better than this. Johnny Cash lays it all on the line like no one else ever has...and probably never will.
DISC TIME: 41:52
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295 of 320 people found the following review helpful By Andrew on June 2, 2000
Format: Audio CD
I listen to every and all kinds of music. Until I went to college, that was true for all genres except country. I liked the western stuff my dad played, but I didn't think it was the same. But I had been playing guitar for several years and I was looking for folk music I could play. Then two things happened. 1) I saw the video for Delia's Gone while flipping through cable channels. I was drawn to it, and then 2) I saw the five star review it got in Rolling stone magazine, so I gambled my 14 bucks, or whatever. My life was changed. In the early 90's, while Kurt Cobain screamed about the world that didn't pick him for kickball in gym class, or Eddie Vedder sang about, well, whatever, Johnny Cash sang about real people who felt guilt and regret, not ironic resentment/jealousy. The voice was like listening to an old testament prophet. His words seem to be more than emotion, they seem to be truth. It's often said that God speaks to us like a still, quiet voice. This IS Johnny Cash' American Recordings. I have cried to this album many times, esp. to Like A Soldier, and The Beast In Me. Accepting one's own contradictions is the key to loving yourself. Johnny's album helped me to do this. It is the most important sound recording I own. Do yourself a favor and buy it.
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57 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Fairportfan on September 13, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Facing a landing in the balcony staircase in the Roxy Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, there is (or was, i haven't been there in a while) an almost life-size, autographed poster of the cover of this album, an amazing photo which has always reminded me of one of the less amiable prophets from the Old Testament just before he told some particularly egregious sinners where to head in.
And the "prophet" image is appropriate for Cash; sometimes in the sense of "a prophet without honour in his own country", as Cash has fallen from favour with the country music establishment more than once...
On their CD "Old Dogs", Waylon, Mel Tillis, Jerry Reed and Bobby Bare engaged in a joyful chomp at the hand that doesn't feed older country stars so well any more in a song by Shel Silverstein called "(Nashville is) Rough on the Livin' (But Surely Speaks Well of the Dead)", an indictment of the way in which the country music industry has tended to cast aside the older acts who created it in favour of the Hat of the Day, remembering them only in time for a hypocritical display when they die.
For a while, a few years ago, it looked as if that was going to be the way that Johnny Cash was going -- the majors seemed less and less interested in him, and he pretty much only got airplay on nostalgia-oriented programs.
And then he and Rick Rubin electrified the music world with this album, which cut a swathe across all genres and brought Cash back to the forefront.
This album was incredible when released, and it's still amazing now.
The weakest tracks on it are "Bird on a Wire" and "Man Who Couldn't Cry", which don't really suit Cash's delivery -- and they are Very Good.
Read more ›
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Erik Rust on July 13, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Forget the fact that this album revitalized Johnny Cash's career and brought him to the doorsteps of the alternative rock crowd....The only thing one needs to know is that it is an absolute masterwork. Few artists can manage to sound as powerful and immortal as Cash does here, especially considering that every track was recorded sparsely with only the man, his soul-commanding voice, and his guitar. There is a stunning amount of emotional depth that comes from Cash's harsh baritone as it conveys an underlying sense of warmth and hard-earned knowledge. Listening to Johnny Cash is like getting an education from an age-old scholar.

From the gangster folk of "Delia's Gone" to the gospel leanings of "Redemption" to the grinningly sarcastic "The Man Who Couldn't Cry," The Man In Black sheds any doubt that he is anything less than a musical deity. Cash takes many songs penned by the likes of Glenn Danzig, Leonard Cohen, Nick Lowe, and Tom Waits and makes them sound as if they'd been written by him all along. Praise is also due to Rick Rubin for casting Cash in such naked light and keeping this collection unplugged and singular in purpose and integrity. Although the following albums in the American Recordings quadrilogy were notably strong, this one still resonates the strongest. There is simply an untouchable ragged beauty to this disc and it serves as a fitting reminder of how indespensable and luminous Johnny Cash was as a musical artist. AMERICAN RECORDINGS is an essential part of any music collection, country/western or otherwise. The man may be gone now, but we will always have this subtle tour de force to remember him by.
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