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Unearthed Box set, Limited Edition

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Audio CD, Box set, Limited Edition, November 25, 2003
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

black cloth slipcase box set

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Over the course of five mesmerizing CDs, Unearthed shows us just how Johnny Cash's now-legendary handful of recordings for American Records came to be. Four discs feature previously unreleased tracks from the famed Rick Rubin-produced sessions. Through their inconsistencies and quirks (and, more often than not, brilliance), they shed light on how Cash's final records were shaped, edited, and produced. Here we get some creative pairings: Fiona Apple providing guest vocals on Cat Stevens' "Father & Son," and the late Joe Strummer duetting with Cash on Bob Marley's "Redemption Song." Neither are the definitive statements that some of Cash's covers from this period are (his glorious takes on Nick Lowe and Danzig, to name just two), but they're still very much worth hearing. Most riveting are the numerous traditional numbers, the songs that were clearly closest to the Man in Black's heart. "Banks of the Ohio," Billy Joe Shaver's "Old Chunk of Coal," Stephen Foster's "Hard Times," and the entire disc of previously unreleased gospel tunes are powerful statements, tunes where you feel privileged to hear Cash--despite declining health and failing voice--sing one more time, the way he wanted. The last disc of this monumental set is a "best-of" compilation of tracks that did make it on the American individual discs, a reminder of just how groundbreaking these sessions were. Perhaps the biggest highlight in this awe-inspiring set is its vast liner notes, a loving collection of essays and recollections that highlight the history and stories behind this eclectic array of songs. --Jason Verlinde

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 25, 2003)
  • limited_edition edition
  • Original Release Date: 2000
  • Number of Discs: 5
  • Format: Box set, Limited Edition
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: American Recordings/Lost Highway
  • ASIN: B0000TLA9Q
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #72,309 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

184 of 187 people found the following review helpful By Roger Robinson on December 21, 2003
Format: Audio CD
I cannot give enough praise to the performances on this collection of (mostly) unreleased material. Cash is astounding. I found many of these songs to be more diverse and impressive than much of what was found on the last two American Recordings releases. I can think of no more fitting farewell from (and for) the Man In Black than this. How much of it didn't end up on an album is beyond my comprehension.

The Re-Recordings:

There are quite a few legendary Cash gems given new life and intensity in this set. Among them is the classic mourner "Long Black Veil," the endearing "Flesh And Blood," and twin mining/coal town songs of "Dark As Dungeon" and "The L&N Don't Stop Here Anymore." There are others and, honestly, each one is as good (if not more straight-forward and hard-hitting) as the originals.

The Covers:

While I felt that American Recordings IV: When The Man Comes Around contained too many covers of uber-popular songs ("In My Life," "Desperado," etc.), here we find a few numbers from songwriters like Kris Kristofferson ("Just The Other Side Of Nowhere" and "Casey's Last Ride"), Neil Young ("Pocahontas" and "Heart of Gold"), Jimmie Rodgers ("'T' For Texas" and "Waiting For a Train")...and the list goes on and on. Again, I'm left wondering why hadn't some of these made the cut before?

The Duets:

Why "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" was chosen over the charming "Cindy" (both with gloom-crooner Nick Cave) for American IV I'll never know. While I love Hank Williams, Sr. this traditional track is simply perfect. The same for the Fiona Apple duet of Cat Steven's "Father And Son." A vast improvement over "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" where Miss Apple's voice seems to interfere more than harmonize.
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107 of 108 people found the following review helpful By Bill R. Moore on January 10, 2004
Format: Audio CD
To put it quite plainly, Unearthed is essential for anyone who loved the last 10 years of Johnny Cash's recording career - his years with producer Rick Rubin on American Recordings, which many, including this humble reviewer, consider the best years of Cash's long and storied career. This set features not merely the best of the rest of those recordings, but the rest of the best. While some of them are not fully realized, there are many genuine revelations contained within. It boggles the mind how some of them did not make the original albums; some could have worked interchangeably, some are unquestionably better, while some, perhaps, simply did not fit the mood of the album. In any case, this boxed set, thoughtfully, has not been sequenced randomly: each of the first three discs is thematic and corresponds to a specific American album(s); the fourth, My Mother's Hymn Book, is a never-before-released gospel album; and the final disc is a Best Of for Cash on American records. As such, each disc stands very well on its own.
WHO'S GONNA CRY. This disc, corresponding with the first American album, features Cash unadorned, with just his acoustic guitar - and that voice. It features several great covers, a few previously-unreleased Cash songs, and some re-recordings of his former hits. It starts the set off with a killer, pardon the pun, version of Long Black Veil that is even better than the classic version on the At Folsom Prison album. Other highlights include Flesh and Blood, If I Give My Soul, a great Banks of the Ohio, Casey's Last Ride, and Dark As A Dungeon. The track Book Review is interesting, as the listener gets to hear Cash in conversation. The disc closes with a fine alternate version of Tom Waits's Down There By The Train.
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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Juan Mobili on January 19, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Unearthed is a treasure chest of Cash's movingly sung, austerely rich marvels of American music. Although a handful were written by Cash himself, his artistic weight and keen capacity to interpret the songs of others, makes this 5-CD set the stunning legacy of a man who is an icon the history of Earth's music -to call it "country," "contemporary" or "American," although accurate would not do justice to the universal power of his work. What is still more astonishing to me is that these five CDs never fall into the common, tired batch of outakes and discarded mishaps that we are so used to seeing record companies put out, on behalf of other musical legends, nor is it the "sure-thing" approach of gathering classics and re-selling them with the excuse of having being remastered -which so often is impossible to justify or hardly an improvement. No, this is five CDs of authentic greatness, the late work of a man who was beginning to say goodbye to life but was not done with honoring his craft or searching his soul. The fact that three out of five units are entirely dedicated to material recorded but not previously chosen for the American Recordings series, says something about Cash's productivity, but even more about the endless creativity he found partnering with Rick Rubin and the trove of great material they conceived together. Practically every song -including the CD devoted to old hymns and gospel songs- is treated with a consistent austerity of arrangements and focus on Cash's voice; it is amazing how rich they are, without an endless parade of star-guests or elaborate strings, or other witless and predictable avenues often followed by aging stars joining forces with ambitious producers. Here, none of that is indulged on, here Cash and Rubin breathe into life an amazing musical document.Read more ›
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Unearthed vs American CD's
It depends. If you own none of the American CD's (especially 1 through 4),the Box Set is a good choice. On the other hand, if you do already own one of the American CD's, buy the rest. There's no question the Box Set remains a special and fine piece of work, however. Good Luck.
Sep 18, 2006 by Tom West |  See all 3 posts
"Sorry, You're a Little Too Late"
A Little Bit Late

They repossessed my car, I said , "I'll get it back again..... I'll fight those
finance people to the end."
"Here's my delinquent payment, and I'll give you some to boot,"
"Now gimme back my car and take my loot!"

They said, "I think... Read More
Sep 15, 2012 by gary |  See all 3 posts
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