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Johnny Cash's "Out Among The Stars" Reviewed

Cash 84

Cash 84

Johnny Cash’s problem as an album artist is that he wasn’t an album artist. His best album was the Live At Folsom Prison, the second best was the Sun compilation and the third best was Orange Blossom Special. And let’s agree to disagree about the American Recordings stuff.

Which leads us to the newly released great lost Cash album, produced by Billy Sherrill, featuring two duets with June Carter and a visiting Waylon Jennings on the exothermic “I’m Moving On”.  Cash might not be much of an album artist but this album, stuck in deep freeze because, well, because Cash hadn’t had a hit in a decade, it is a real album but not a real great album.

Look: any time you gonna get to hear June and Johnny duet along to “Baby Ride Easy” is a good time and they are certainly up for it here, though their daughter did it better!  But too much of the material isn’t quite good enough, “If I Told You Who It Was” is catchy but slight, “She Used To Love Me A Lot:” is a little on the turgid side and I can’t say I am overly fond of the Elvis Costello remix . I am not quite sure what Elvis thought he was doing with it, kinda strange backing tracks and slowed down by a beat (the last thing it needed). “I Drove Her Out Of My Mind” has some of the gothic stuff Rick Rubin but played in lighter hues.

Cash sings speaks on the next song as well, “Tennessee” and both songs have a rolling low grade country pop hum to them. Not countrypolitan but a purist might have a question mark. Certainly, it wasn’t the country folk of his Sundays.

But in the end, it really is a consistently pretty good album. It doesn’t sound like there has ever been a time when it would be a huge hit but it also isn’t a drunken mess, it is a real thing. “Rock And roll Shoes” is particularly lively and the last song is the best, a country Gospel Cash original “I Came To Believe”; an act of faith so perfect it could draw a straight line to “Can’t Help But Wonder Where I’m Bound”. The album might not be the greatest but “I came To Believe” comes damn close

Grade: B

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