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American V: A Hundred Highways


Price: £10.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Beginning his career as an outlaw to the Nashville establishment, Johnny Cash has come to define country music over the last 40 years. At first, his unique mix of hillbilly music with gospel and blues made him a perfect fit at Sam Phillips' Sun records, where he recorded such classics as "Folsom Prison Blues" and "I Walk The Line." From there, Johnny signed with ... Read more in Amazon's Johnny Cash Store

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American V: A Hundred Highways + American III: Solitary Man + American Recordings
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Product details

  • Audio CD (3 July 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Mercury Records Ltd (London)
  • ASIN: B0002W18MU
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 15,898 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Help Me
2. God's Gonna Cut You Down
3. Like The 309
4. If You Could Read My Mind
5. Further On Up The Road
6. On The Evening Train
7. I Came To Believe
8. Love's Been Good To Me
9. A Legend In My Time
10. Rose Of My Heart
11. Four Strong Winds
12. I'm Free From The Chain Gang Now

Product Description

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Amazon.co.uk

The ethical questions surrounding this final album in the American Recordings series are as unavoidable as they are, ultimately, peripheral. While the vocal tracks were recorded in the months just prior to Johnny Cash's passing in September 2003, the arrangements weren't undertaken until two years later. And though producer Rick Rubin had become a trusted friend, the Man in Black wasn't around to approve or disapprove, let alone guide, the final sessions. However, if the pure power of these recordings doesn't quiet the skeptics, nothing will. With Heartbreakers Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench and slide guitar session pro Smokey Hormel on board (all three of whom appear on earlier Cash albums), along with guitarists Matt Sweeney and Johnny Polansky, the sound is stately and acoustic, but rarely staid, even as the dynamics of earlier recordings in the series are absent. Instead, the songs have a measured, elegiac intensity, the sound of musicians choosing their notes carefully and making just the right choices.

The songs Cash sings are, unsurprisingly, confessional and reflective: his mortality and his mistakes, his maker and his salvation, and the loss of his wife June and the end of his career may have weighed on his mind, but in these songs he both embodies and transcends his personal history. On "God's Gonna Cut You Down," as the musicians clap and stomp behind him, his voice cuts through the air like that same avenging hand. On the new original "Like the 309"--the last song Cash ever wrote--he cops to being short of breath, and that voice becomes a metaphor for what each of us will one day face. On Gordon Lightfoot's "If You Read My Mind," Rubin flirts with overwhelming the damp bittersweetness of Cash's phrasing in tasteful atmospherics, but the voice is implacable, hitting and finding notes one never expected he'd have the will to find. Likewise, it's hard to believe this is his first recording of Ian Tyson's "Four Strong Winds"; the elemental narrative seems to have been written for him. Two songs, however, Cash has recorded before: the born-again hymn "I Came to Believe" and the final spiritual, "I'm Free from the Chain Gang Now." The latter especially is a definitive testament, as is his version of Bruce Springsteen's "Further On (Up the Road)." "One sunny morning we'll rise, I know / And I'll meet you further on up the road," he sings. If only, John, if only. --Roy Kasten

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

76 of 76 people found the following review helpful By David Calcano VINE VOICE on 30 Sep 2006
Format: Audio CD
Many people can say what they want, but I almost had tears when I heard this album... just listening to `Help Me' and the way Johnny sings those lyrics, man! that's just too much. The songs in this album are perfect, and personally this is my favourite of the American saga... Johnny knew what was coming and you can feel it across the songs, there's nothing like how he approach the melodies.

I'm just glad we can always remember him with so many great records... the last one can have that nostalgic ingredient, but honestly I've never heard an album that reflected feelings in such a truthful way.

It's almost me being stupid, but after hearing this record, you feel that you know the guy... I guess very few artists could do something like that.

Enjoy this masterpiece...
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99 of 100 people found the following review helpful By L. on 13 July 2006
Format: Audio CD
These songs were recorded while Johnny Cash was wheelchair-bound, nearly blind, asthmatic, diabetic, in constant pain and grieving the death of his soulmate and love of his life June Carter Cash, whom he would join mere weeks after the last of these tracks was recorded. Despite all that, he managed, through sheer force of will, to create an album of honesty and beauty that will stay with you long after the last note fades.

The album opens with a straightfoward appeal for help. "Oh Lord, help me to walk another mile, just one more mile" he sings on "Help Me", a hauntingly beautiful song that is neither maudlin nor overly sentimental. This is followed by what the sequencing seems to suggest is God's answer to that humble plea, the slashing, foot-stomping "God's Gonna Cut You Down". Cash seems to relish the role of the avenging hand and sings this one with gusto.

"Like the 309", the last song Cash wrote and recorded, has him returning to the "train song" motif that has been a lifeblood of his music. Cash stares down "Dr. Death" with a wink, a sly grin and a clear-eyed view of his own mortality. "Tell me all about it, what I did wrong/Meanwhile, I will be doin' fine/Then load my box on the 309".

Gordon Lightfoot's "If You Could Read My Mind", a staple of light-pop radio, is transformed by Cash from a pleasantly hummable song about a romantic breakup into a harrowing trip into a dark night of the soul. Cash's voice is at its weakest here as he struggles for breath and pitch but that only serves to make the effect greater. Lyrics that seemed throwaway in the original seem weighted with years of regret and pain when sung by Cash.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Will Stent on 8 Feb 2007
Format: Audio CD
Being the last album in his 'American Recordings' series, the overall vibe of the other albums led fans and admirers of Cash to expect nothing more than what was needed; Cash's voice, a few guitars, a piano and the occassional backing vocals. Rick Rubin's tried-and-tested production method when it comes to Johnny Cash is put into motion again here, and the end result is another memorable record.

Being a mix of tradtional country songs and Cash's own material, including 'Like The 309', the last song he ever wrote before his death. It would take many pages to explain all the merits of each song, so I'll just pick out a few of my favourites. 'Like The 309' is a classic Cash track, but it has more resonance becuase it was the last he wrote. It continues Cash's love affair with trains and the story of the rails, somthing that features constanly throughout all his albums. 'Further On Up The Road' is done with a brilliance that I haven't seen elsewhere in the country music spectrum. It's instrumentation is also well chosen - the select organ chords halfway through the song sends shivers up your spine. It's a masterwork, with some meaningful lyrics that will stir up some emotion in anyone. 'If You Could Read My Mind' is a softer, moe thoughtful song may go unnoticed when compared to tracks such as 'Hurt' and 'Ring Of Fire', but in my opinion, it deserves to stand with them. It's quiet and smooth, bordering romantic, with the pure honesty of Cash's voice really coming through.

It's certainly a brilliant album to complete the series, and bolsters the allready great legend of the Man In Black. Buy this album if you're a fan of Cash or country music in general - you will not regret it.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By B. A. Woodhouse on 14 July 2006
Format: Audio CD
The last recording, and in places it really feels like it. The voice cannot always carry the same weight and you can almost hear him wheeze in places but this melancholic set is actually a perfect bookend to his career. A posthumous realease that is not a scrappy collection of outtakes but a vital addition to his catalogue for fans, and a great place to start for newcomers to the artist.

More personal and intimate than the first 4 American recordings this is also the most acoustic. The songs are concerned with reflection and impending conclusions, but not with regret. There are flashes of gentle humour and elsewhere evidence of his deep faith (in the aching, pleading 'Help me' for example)

If the album has a criticism it may be the lack of a standout track to equal 'Hurt' from American IV, but it gains over that collection in terms of consistency. It is a magnificent and emotional final tribute, the sound of a man singing himself into the long dark night ahead, and choosing to share it with his friends.
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