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American VI: Ain't No Grave
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172 of 176 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon February 23, 2010
Format: Audio CD
"American VI: Ain't no grave" is the final in the Rick Rubin produced "American" series of CDs by Johnny Cash. Like its predecessors, it comprises pared-back covers, as well as (in this case), an original (and purpotedly final) composition by Cash.

"I Corinthians 15:55" is the lone original with lyrics looking at his mortality and the hope of seeing his Redeemer. Mortality, love, redemption, and spirituality colour the 10 songs on this beautiful CD, and I must say, for what supposedly comprises his last recordings, he sounds a lot stronger than he did on songs like "If you could read my mind" (from "American V"), or "Bridge over troubled water" ("American IV), where he was slightly reedy.

"Redemption day" (a Sheryl Crow composition) is a beautiful acoustic ballad that wouldn't sound out of place in a Western movie, with Cash singing about the "train that's heading straight to heaven's gate", while "For the good times" (a Kris Kristofferson composition) is a heartbreaking farewell to his lover as they part and he reminisces the good times they shared.

"Can't help but wonder where I'm bound" touches on his journey on earth and his curiousity over his final destination. The solemn "Last night I had the strangest dream" finds him dreaming of a world with no more war, against a richer musical backdrop than the other songs.

Highlight, in my opinion" is "Ain't no grave", his fearless and defiant proclamation that no grave can hold his body down when he hears the trumpet sound, and his looking forward to meeting Jesus, his mother and father. Chiming bell sounds, Soft guitars and banjo set to shuffling shackled-footstep sounds which provide the gentle beat to this stirring song.

As with the previous discs in the series, Cash inhabits and makes each song his own. It is obvious he knew his sojourn here was done and the songs reflect his strong belief of a life well lived and being reunited with loved ones on the other side of eternity. A masterpiece!
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48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon February 26, 2010
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Perhaps the most surprising thing about AMERICAN VI: AIN'T NO GRAVE isn't that it was released (we love to exploit our deceased talents), but that it is such a solid album. These are among Cash's very last recordings, and it's true, his voice wasn't what it used to be (a review I read somewhere actually said Cash's voice got better closer to his death, or words to that effect; if you're offended and rather miffed, you aren't the only one), but that really isn't an issue on GRAVE. Sure, his voice slips here and there--but not as much as it did on AMERICAN V. And these are, overall, a better batch of songs, perhaps made slightly better by--of course--Cash himself, as well as the sparse acoustic arrangement.

This time, Cash covers songs from Sheryl Crow, Kris Kristofferson, Hawaii, the Bible, and classic country radio; plus we get one of his final originals, "I Corinthians 15:55." Every single tune here is strong, a testament to who Cash was and the life he lived, especially at the end. There is not one disappointing song on here, and I mean that quite literally. From the opener (which sounds a bit too much like "God's Gonna Cut You Down," but maybe that isn't a bad thing) through the closer "Aloha Oe," every single one of these tunes/performances reaches into your soul and pulls at your heartstrings. And it's not because these were Cash's "final" recordings; it's because of the passion he put into them, and the passion that went into Rick Rubin's finishing them up.

Overall, Cash and Rubin's "American Recordings" series was one of the best things to hit the music world; I'd say "country music," but let's face it--compared to the current state of affairs in country music, the "American Recordings" belong in an entirely different category altogether. AIN'T NO GRAVE ain't no exception, if I may say so. It's one of the series' stronger entries, even if Cash's voice wasn't as hearty as at the beginning. Rest assured: if you purchase this album, and if you love music, you won't be disappointed. I'm there's more exploitation on the way; but this album comes off as genuine, as heart-felt, because it's not a compilation or some tribute: it's Cash himself, even ending on the song of his choice. This is a great album, plain and simple, from one of music's true (and too few) original talents.
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41 of 47 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
Johnny Cash is forever with us, in spirit and in his music. The sixth volume of the Americana is a reminder of his greatness.

During the last few years of Johnny Cash's life he spent much of his time recording songs that meant a great deal to him. We know from his daughter, Rosanne Cash's recent CD, that her father loved the old time folk/gospel songs. This CD brings us the uplifting, redeeming qualities that may have been in Johnny Cash's mind as he sang the songs he loved. This is a gruff old voice, but the meaning of his life surrounds us.

Rick Rubin produced this CD, as he has all of the Americana series. There are ten songs on this CD that bring the face of death before us. And, at the same time, we are privy to a forgiving spirit that has seen it all.

'Ain't No Grave' is so perfect, as it opens up the view of the spirit that grows as the CD proceeds. Nothing is going
to keep him down.

'Redemption Day' is a Sheryl Crow song that had an anti-war stance, but with Johnny Cash it is a song sorrow and love for all- merciful.

'For The Good Times' an old Kris Kristofferson tune, is my favorite- an old hand, giving a tip of the hat to the times of yore when things were good. A sentimental favorite that we all can relate to.

'Corinthians'- 'death where is thy sting'- looking forward to seeing those gone before.

'Can't Help But Wonder Where I'm Bound' a Tom Paxton tune, wandering and wondering what he was meant to be. A look back and forward to whatever is coming.

'Satisfied Mind'-everything that has gone before is done and done-some regrets but not many- 'believe there is no doubt;- he leaves this old world with a satisfied mind'.

'I Don't Hurt Anymore'- an old folk/western song- all hurts are forgotten and forgiven. Loves lost and new ones found.

'Cool Water'- was this not an old Frankie Lane song- we can feel the parched throat and the release with that cool water.
'Dan can't you see that green tree with water running free for you and me'. Love this tune.

'Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream'-there was no war, no strife, no poor, no more war ever. The people were dancing round and round, guns and swords were scattered all around'. All life's woes are solved and it is time to rejoice.
.
'Aloha Oe-Aloha Oe Queen Lili'uokalani's Hawaiian goodbye: 'Until we meet again'

Johnny Cash has given us his peace of mind that carries on. He wishes for peace and love while he faced his mortality.
Over the years, Johnny Cash always sang the tunes that were right for him at that moment, in his death, he continues.

Aloha Oe, Johnny Cash

Highly Recommended prisrob 02-23-10

The Essential Johnny Cash

American IV: The Man Comes Around
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2011
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
The final American album from Johnny Cash isn't his strongest, but it's one of his most memorable. It's not his strongest because he wasn't feeling his strongest. These songs were recorded just weeks and months before his passing. His whispers are haunting though, on tracks like "Ain't No Grave," because he obviously understands that his life is coming to an end.

I'm not familiar with a lot of these songs, and to be honest, I wish there were more songs here for Johnny to sing. I don't think his version of "Aloha Oe" will be remembered as one of his greatest recordings ever, so the album feels a little too light, but maybe that's the point.

If you are a fan of Johnny Cash's American recordings, I recommend listening to the album, and if you are thrilled by what you hear, then buy the album. If you are new to Johnny's music, I would start somewhere else.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2010
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
American V felt like a finished album. You could hear the age and death on John as he sang the songs, with a Biblical, concrete feel. EVERY SONG felt finished, solid, and stood alone as JOHN as anything he'd ever put out. This album didn't convey that feeling. Waiting, and being put off again and again, I expected VI to blow my mind wind open. This didn't happen. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed this album. My problem with the album is not that the songs aren't good. That isn't true. But coming from an Audio Engineer, (That's Music Recording and Production guy) I feel that the album wasn't finished. Tracks feel bare. I don't mind minimalism, after all, I love his early stuff, where it's just him, Luther, and Marshall playing together. But these tracks feel like somebody put in all the right stuff, and then decided to mute tracks at random, giving each track almost a demo like feel. This works for some of the tracks, but it makes me uncomfortable to hear it across the entirety of the album. Part of the greatness of IV and V was the arrangement of the songs. Some songs were stripped down, some had lush orchestrations, and each one was tasteful and WORKED. I feel like some of the songs here would have benefited greatly from those orchestrations. Again, I stress that I have enjoyed this album so far, and I reccomend it to my Johnny Cash friends. Just don't expect the same feel as the previous albums.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2010
Format: Audio CD
American VI: Ain't No Grave is advertised as the final album in Johnny Cash's American series. As such, it is a solid, moving collection that brings the critically acclaimed series to an end.

Cash's voice comes across fairly strong on songs such as Kris Kristofferson's "For the Good Times" and the country staple "Satisfied Mind." On others, like "Can't Help But Wonder Where I'm Bound," he sounds older than a man in his early seventies. It works to paint a picture of Johnny Cash near the end: frail, ailing, but still commanding, still Cash.

The musical backing deserves positive notice, as well. It is delicate, beautiful, and totally captivating while never overwhelming Cash's vocals. I believe that the arrangement of "For the Good Times" on this album is the best that I have heard.

Many of these songs are well-known, and some, like "Cool Water" seemed a little too obvious to me at first. However, there is not one weak track on this album; listening to Cash sing "Cool Water" actually served to remind me that the man was one of our great folksingers and folklorists. The overtly Christian numbers ("Ain't No Grave," "I Corinthians 15:55") testify to Johnny Cash's staunch faith in his God.

It is a great album that can present an artist with humanity and dignity. American VI: Ain't No Grave does that for Johnny Cash, one of music's greatest voices.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
Johnny Cash is a lot like Willie. You either hate his singing or you love it. The jury has always been split in our house. My wife hates him. I love him. I've been listening to Johnny Cash for over fifty years. I think I was hooked from the opening notes of "Ballad of a Teenage Queen," when I was only twelve or thirteen years old. Johnny went through a lot of transformations in the years between then and now, but the voice was always instantly recognizable. And now he's gone to that place none of can be honestly sure about. Maybe that's why one of my favorite songs from this album is "I Can't Help but Wonder Where I'm Bound." That's if I actually have a favorite. Because the mood of this last CD, recorded in the last months of Cash's life, remains unrelentingly somber. My assessment here may be colored by my continuing sadness, knowing that Johnny is really gone, and knowing that he was very much aware of his own imminent death when he recorded these songs. His beloved life partner, June Carter Cash was already gone. So maybe Johnny was ready. The melancholy is evident in every song here, in any case. The voice is a bit weaker, but the sentiments expressed were firm and true. Listening to Johnny sing "For the Good Times" nearly brings me to tears each time I listen. And I have listened dozens of times already. I can't seem to take this album off the player. Every simple and spare arrangement by Rick Rubin and company is letter-perfect. And the songs seem to get a little better every time I play it. Yes, there is much here to meditate on - death and loss, grief that won't end. But every time I listen, I want to paraphrase that line from To Kill a Mockingbird. "Stand up, child. Johnny Cash is singing." - Tim Bazzett, author of SOLDIER BOY: AT PLAY IN THE ASA
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
American VI: Ain't No Grave is (at least we're being told) the last installment of Johnny Cash's recordings produced by Rick Rubin. With American V Cash's recordings had taken on a dark and somber tone both musically and lyrically, and some fear that this new collection would be even further down that path. However Ain't No Grave has the overall tone of someone who is a peace with his impending passing. This is shines through the most on "I Corinthians 15:55" where the chorus draws from the Bible passage "O Death, where is thy sting?/O Grave, where is thy victory?".

Cash also took the opportunity on these songs to remember positive relationships as on "For The Good Times" and "Can't Help But Wonder Where I'm Bound". Both of these songs have simple, but bright acoustic backing.

In contrast I found it interesting that even though "Ain't No Grave" and "Redemption Day" have positive lyrics; they have very deep bass notes on the piano and/or guitar that have a dark and ominous feel to them. This makes for an interesting contrast rather than contradiction.

Ain't No Grave concludes with the Hawaiian song "Aloha Oe" which translates to "Farewell to you". Even though Cash departed this world some six plus years ago, it was his wish for this song to be the closer of his final CD. Yet it is not meant as a sad goodbye as the lyrics include "Until we meet again."

The instrumentation - most notably provided by Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench of The Heartbreakers - is skillfully done yet never overpowers Cash. The production is simple so that listeners will not be distracted from what Cash had to offer in his final recordings.

Overall, Ain't No Grave is a testament to a legend who knew his end was near. His vocals reflect that his health was in decline; however, he by no means embarrassed himself. This collection of songs is a fitting posthumous tribute to Cash's faith and the peace that it afforded him. Yes, Johnny, farewell to you, until we meet again.

Download this: I Corinthians 15:55
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2010
Format: Audio CD
It shouldn't be a big surprise that the Cash/Rubin connection has continued to produce great music long after Johnny's death. Ain't No Grave finds Cash in a much different place than he was on his prior album, A Hundred Highways. On A Hundred Highways, Cash sounded tired and very much like a man on his death bed. Ain't No Grave is a display of a man who has accepted death and who is not afraid. Johnny Cash delivers his own eulogy on Ain't No Grave and makes it very clear that death did not defeat him. From the first notes of "Ain't No Grave" to the comforting "until we meet again" on the final lyrics of "Aloha Oe", Johnny is a man who is celebrating life and embracing the next stage.

The title track is an immediate classic, much in the vein of "God's Gonna Cut You Down" on the prior album. It is haunting and emotionally stunning. The Avett Brothers add quite a lot to the track with the banjo and stomping. But the highlight for me is Cash's rendition of "For The Good Times". I have always been a Kristofferson fan, but this was never really my favorite song. Cash makes this song very much his own and you can easily visualize him sitting alone singing to a photo of June, longing to be with her again. It is a very touching tribute to her and surely does Kristofferson proud.

If this is to be Cash's "swan song", I don't think he could have done it better. This is a great cap to the American recordings and I hope we can look forward to an Unearthed II if Rubin and John Carter Cash have a few extra songs laying around. Rest in Peace, Mr. Cash. We will all miss you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2010
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
This is an excellent CD and I can't be more pleased with the entire selection of songs. Johnny has left a legacy and given us another great album that I'm certain to enjoy for years to come. Johnny has given us his witness and has stored his reward in heaven and is nowing reaping what he has sown. The Lord has given Johnny all his talents and Johnny did not bury them, but has deposited them while earning great interest. I trust that Johnny Cash is happy now more than ever for the road he has chosen. He has blessed us, too. The voice is a little cracked and old, but like fine wine it is better with age as he tugs our hearts more than our ears with this excellent selection of songs. Who says you can't take it with you... or maybe send it ahead?
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