Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Country, Pop
UK only 180 gram vinyl pressing. The first four songs on Unchained come from the songbooks of Beck, Don Gibson, Soundgarden, and Jimmie Rodgers. What might look like absurdly unsupportable eclecticism in other artists, of ... more »
UK only 180 gram vinyl pressing. The first four songs on Unchained come from the songbooks of Beck, Don Gibson, Soundgarden, and Jimmie Rodgers. What might look like absurdly unsupportable eclecticism in other artists, of course, is pretty much standard stuff for Cash. Unchained is hardly standard, though; it's more like the best album he's made since his 1984 departure from Columbia Records. Not only is this a stack of songs perfectly and idiosyncratically suited to the man, they're given door-rattling backing treatment by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, who prove as fitting for Cash's music as his own Tennessee Two was back in the day. Rhino UK. 2006.
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Crown Jewel Of The American Recordings
Philip R. Heath | DFW | 02/24/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"With the release yesterday of American VI: Ain't No Grave, there is a spike in interest in all of the American Recordings that Johnny Cash did with Rick Rubin. American II: Unchained finds Cash in relatively good health circa 1996, and this shows through in the vibrance of this collection of songs (mostly covers). Backed by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers the overall sound is country very much infused with southern rock.
While the CD opens strongly with Cash's interpretation of Beck's "Rowboat", the energy bursts through on "Sea Of Heartbreak". The up-tempo acoustic guitar on the chorus provides a great backdrop for Cash and Petty's harmonization. If there were any doubts as that this CDs greatness, they are removed by this second track.
The song that most people will be familiar with from this CD is Cash's cover of Soundgarden's "Rusty Cage". When people think of the unlikely covers that Cash did on the American Recordings, most will think of "Hurt" from American IV. However "Rusty Cage" paved the way many years prior. Cash, Petty, and crew slow the tempo down such that it sounds natural for Cash's voice and style. I really like his understated delivery on the chorus. After the line "I'm gonna break my rusty cage" and the short pause the finishing words "and run" are rather subdued compared to the original. While the screams on the original show defiance, this style transforms the same lyrics into a controlled display of confidence.
Cash even covers himself on "Country Boy" and "Mean Eyed Cat". Both of these are fairly short, but the up-tempo acoustic jam style shows a group of musicians that were having a great time making music. Cash even adds an additional verse to "Mean Eyed Cat" because he said that after enough time had passed he understood the song enough to give it a proper conclusion. It is an amusing tale of a man who drives his woman away over a money dispute only to travel across the country by train to win her back. He even has to consult with his mother-in-law to find out where his love has gone.
American II also shows Cash's spiritual side with his cover of Josh Haden's "Spiritual", Cash's original "Meet Me In Heaven", and his cover of "Kneeling Drunkard's Plea". These songs show Cash's faith with the last of the three serving as a metaphor of Cash's own path of redemption.
There are no weak spots on Unchained, and to me this was the pinnacle of the American Recordings series. American III didn't have quite the same chemistry to it, and Cash's health really started to decline after that. If you are checking this out based on the buzz around American VI, do yourself a favor and grab a collection of songs that show Cash still at the top of his game.
Download this: Rusty Cage"
My favorite American Recording
A. Christy | 03/07/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Unchained typically gets lesser reviews than the other American Recordings. This neglect is undeserved. Simply put, Unchained rocks. Johnny's voice is rich, deep, and powerful, just as we like it, and the backing band supplies a hearty country-rock sound to complement. This album is comprised of a combination of country classics and more recent country and rock, all of which Cash performs masterfully. The cover of "Sea of Heartbreak" is the most outstanding track on the album, and has become my favorite Johnny Cash song, hands down. "Rowboat," "I Never Picked Cotton," and "I've Been Everywhere" (of course) are also gems, performed with a definite Cash sound. This album admittedly departs sharply from traditional Johnny Cash recordings, both acoustic and backed by the Tennessee Three, but this difference is not a grounds for criticism. Rather, it demonstrates Johnny's ability to master a new style, and demonstrate that he was still a badass, even in the '90s."