- Audio CD (22 Feb. 2010)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: Mercury
- ASIN: B0035RQK2C
- Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 78,972 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
American VI: Ain't No Grave
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American VI: Ain't No Grave, is the sixth and final installment of Johnny Cash's critically-acclaimed American Recordings album series, and as with the previous five albums, American VI was produced by Rick Rubin. The songs on are drawn from all over the musical landscape and from various eras, and include Sheryl Crow's moving "Redemption Day", Kris Kristofferson's "For The Good Times", "Can't Help But Wonder Where I'm Bound" by Tom Paxton, Bob Nolan's "Cool Water," and the never before heard Cash original, "I Corinthians: 15:55", written over the last three years of his life.
Johnny Cash’s American Recordings albums, recorded during the last decade of his life, carefully stewarded by Rick Rubin, are a monumental accomplishment – monumental enough, indeed, to stand as the monument that their incalculably influential creator deserves.
The quantity of the American Recordings matched the quality: four albums proper in the series released while Cash was alive, four further discs of out-takes and off-cuts collected in the Unearthed box set released immediately after Cash’s death in 2003, and a fifth, posthumous addition, American V: A Hundred Highways, recorded immediately before Cash died, released in 2006. The last of these was – though brilliant – formidably sombre even by Cash’s standards, unmistakably the sound of a dying man preparing to settle accounts with his maker. It is – or, at least, was – difficult to imagine what could possibly be left in the locker.
On the evidence of Ain’t No Grave, regrettable though it is to report, not all that much. American VI is very much a companion volume to American V: acoustic, downbeat, almost wholly devoid of percussion, Cash’s voice a wracked, whispery drawl, every note an effort. This is no problem in itself and was no problem on A Hundred Highways, on which such sturdy material as Bruce Springsteen’s Further on Up the Road, Ian Tyson’s Four Strong Winds and Hank Williams’ On the Evening Train cohered into a chilling, dignified statement of satisfied resignation at the conclusion of a life well lived.
Ain’t No Grave, by comparison, feels a sweeping up of scraps, a collation of tracks which were, to judge by their generally similar lyrical preoccupations, considered for A Hundred Highways but found wanting. Some were unlucky: it would have been a particular shame if these versions of Kris Kristofferson’s For the Good Times and Tom Paxton’s Where I’m Bound had languished unheard. Others are more fortunate than they deserve to be: not even Cash can get more than knee-deep in Sheryl Crow’s Redemption Day. --Andrew Mueller
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Top Customer Reviews
Cash had a strong work ethic, and there were many many songs left unreleased in the vaults. `Unearthed', released shortly after his death allowed us to hear the many finished tracks that for one reason or another hadn't been on previous releases. Cash was actually working on a new album when he died, and that was completed by Rick Rubin and released as American V, Hundred Highways. This album is a companion piece to that, and takes the rest of the material left in the vault with an added backing from Rick Rubin.
And that is where the problem with this album lies. It is material that was deemed unworthy of release previously, and some of it is a bit weak. There is almost a feeling of cashing in and milking the Johnny Cash legend for all it's worth by American. However, there is still a lot of good stuff here that was worthy of release, especially Cash's take on `For the Good Times'. His frail voice lends Kristofferson's lyrics an added pathos that really lifts the song to new heights.
In all a good album, and an interesting coda to Cash's career. I am having to dock a star for the feeling of barrel scraping though.
It seems to be just a 'put together' album and does not seem as powerful as the previous American Recordings.
"American VI - Ain't No Grave" is Johnny's final studio album and the last in the Rick Rubin series that began, to great acclaim, in 1994 with American Recordings The tracks were recorded in 2004 during the same sessions that produced American V: A Hundred Highways. It was during these sessions that his wife, June Carter Cash, died. Despite this grievous loss, and the knowledge that he too was dying, he completed the content of both albums with a heightened sense of pain and sorrow and died three months later.
Johnny Cash was born February 26 1932 and so this release almost coincides with what would have been his 78th birthday.
When first they met Rick Rubin told Cash that he'd watched him on stage and that he'd lost none of his fire and passion. As these recordings show, even 10 years later, he was right. Morover, as JC wrote in his 1997 autobiography Cash: The Autobiography Rubin managed to capture the "honest, unadulterated essence" of Johnny Cash and never more so than on these final recording.
Cash was a deeply religious man and his readings of the traditional "Ain't No Grave" and his own "I Corinthians 15.55" based on the New Testament verse provide compelling insights into his convictions:
"Oh Death, where is thy sting? Oh grave, where is thy victory?"
Not even death was going to conquer his spirit, fire and passion.
Despite the many contradictions in his life, Johnny was also a passionate champion of social justice and so it is fitting that Sheryl Crow's "Redemption Day2 is included.Read more ›
Johnny has been quoted as saying that the work he was doing with Rubin was the only thing keeping going after June sadly passed away and you can almost feel he's nearing the end as the songs see him looking back on his life and dealing with the difficult subject of salvation, faith and friendship.
This really is a wide range of songs that includes covers of Kris Kristofferson's 'For The Good Times'and'Redemption Day' by Sheryl Crowe, as well as one of the last songs he wrote 'First Corinthians', and its quite ironic that the set finishes with a song called 'Ain't No Grave'.
The Rubin years have really proved what a great talent Johnny was and that he can't be pigeon holed as simply a country musician, and this final set, almost 50 years on from his first recordings, is a great tribute to one of the great artists of popular music.
With all due respect, and Johnny Cash deserves a lot of our respect, I can only give this three stars. Yes this is tastefully done. No it is not all doom and gloom. Perhaps we simply expected too much.
Somehow it seems as if Rick Rubin was not as much involved in this latest project as he was in the preceding 5 CDs and in the "Unearthed" project.
Johnny, even in the year before his death was of course incapable of performing badly, but I doubt whether the man himself would have allowed tracks such as Cool Water and Aloha Oe to see the light of day. They are okay but simply not good enough.
I am not sorry I bought this, of course not, but to anybody starting on a path of discovery on the Johnny Cash's oeuvre, I'd say buy American 4, buy Unearthed and remember the Man in Black as he was at his best.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
amazingly most of the songs are about death.his voice is a bit shot on some of the tracks but it just seems to add to the whole effect.a very moving album.Published 4 months ago by Mr Michael Tolley
Very good stuff from the man in black ,the final american recordings from cash , produced by rick rubin.Published 6 months ago by Michael Jenkins
Having been a Johnny Cash fan all my life these final recordings are so poignant. The songs are sad but hearing his voice as he is reaching the end of his life especially him... Read morePublished on 17 Nov. 2012 by Boyz
What can one say that hasn't been said already about this fantastic artist.this completes my CD collection of all of his works and it is one that would complement any collection of... Read morePublished on 16 Mar. 2012 by Fly Fisher
I have bought almost all of the Rick Rubin - Johnny Cash albums over the last couple of years and thought American 5 (A Hundred Highways) was truly excellent. Read morePublished on 10 Oct. 2010 by Mr Baker
As much as it pains me to say it, American 6 should not have been released. Johnny Cash made some of the most honest and unpretentious music of his career with the American albums. Read morePublished on 16 April 2010 by LukeW