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70 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps The Man In Black's finest hour
In 2000, Johnny Cash’s health had weakened considerably, but this release confirmed that his creative powers were still very much intact. ‘Solitary Man’ ranks among the finest moments in a recording career that lasted for over half a century.
‘Solitary Man’ begins on a defiant note with Tom Petty’s ‘I Won’t Back...
Published on 16 Sep 2003 by J. W. Bassett

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Solitary man
I am quite in the minority on this one, so I owe it to any readers to explain that while I am an admirer of Johnny Cash, I am far from neither an authority nor a superfan. This might just be a five star-album to you, even though it isn't for me.

This is the third of the 'American'-albums by the late Johnny Cash and as such is a very minimal affair. But even in...
Published 19 months ago by Torben Madsen


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70 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps The Man In Black's finest hour, 16 Sep 2003
By 
J. W. Bassett (Kent, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: American III: Solitary Man (Audio CD)
In 2000, Johnny Cash’s health had weakened considerably, but this release confirmed that his creative powers were still very much intact. ‘Solitary Man’ ranks among the finest moments in a recording career that lasted for over half a century.
‘Solitary Man’ begins on a defiant note with Tom Petty’s ‘I Won’t Back Down’. Certainly the presence of Petty’s backing vocals and organ playing should be noted, but Cash gracefully appropriates the song, adding a measure of gravitas that was absent from the original. The track is given an impact and poignancy that help transcend the original’s pop leanings.
Cash’s ability to allow the listener to identify with a song was never greater than on this album, but some credit for that must go to Rick Rubin for his trademark under-production. Paring down the instrumentation and arrangements allows the listener to more easily identify with the sentiments being expressed by Cash’s words – whether they are his own or not. Never is this more obvious than on his remarkable re-casting of Nick Cave’s death row narrative ‘The Mercy Seat’. Cash replaces Cave’s hysterics with a more conversational delivery. The original frantic Bad Seeds instrumentation is reduced to a hovering organ and a swirling piano melody. Despite the comparatively minimalist approach, the result is no less powerful.
Elsewhere, the title track, a version of Neil Diamond’s 1966 hit, and the soulful cover of U2’s melancholy stadium-ballad ‘One’ offer further evidence that Cash has an uncanny talent for transforming the works of others. However, it is his interpretation of Bonny Prince Billy’s (Will Oldham) ‘I See A Darkness’ that stands out. If nothing else, the stark contrast between Cash’s gnarled voice and Oldham’s youthful tone is heartbreaking. When Cash quavers, “There’s a hope that somehow you can save me from this darkness”, all but the callous eyes will be welling up.
However, not all the covers on ‘Solitary Man’ are borrowed from recent and current artists. Cash’s versatility (in addition to his musical heritage) is once again highlighted, as he resurrects the self-mocking ‘Nobody’, a one-hundred-year-old vaudeville tune written by Egbert Williams. Cash also revisits the old treasures ‘That Lucky Old Sun (Just Rolls Around Heaven All Day)’ and ‘Mary Of The Wild Moor’, upon which Sheryl Crow contributes.
Cash’s own compositions are no less compelling that the cover versions however. Rather the show signs of weakness so late in his career (like so many of his contemporaries), Cash’s song writing is as sharp as ever. ‘Before My Time’ is a touching love song as well as a humbling consideration of his own place in history. Similarly tender is ‘Field Of Diamonds’. While it was originally recorded in 1986 with Waylon Jennings, this new version is enhanced by the backing duet of June Carter Cash and Sheryl Crow.
Cash’s version of the old spiritual ‘Wayfaring Stranger’ is perhaps the most poignant track on the CD. As Cash lists the family members with whom he will be reunited with in death you can’t help but think that this is a sublime closer to not only an album but to a career. Tragically, his career would only last three more years, but ‘Solitary Man’ is a wonderful reminder that whether the subject was love, God or murder, Cash was the finest storyteller of them all.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is an album of rare and raw quality., 28 Feb 2002
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My perception of Johnny cash was that of a predictable good ole boy who had built himself a macho image that appealed to some elements of American country music. A friend played me this album and I was stunned. I had to wipe the perceptions board clean and start again. This is an album of simple undiluted quality, of a man singing some of his favourite songs with tenderness, humour, and sometimes with a rawness of emotion that I didn't think he was capable of. When the time comes for JC to meet JC, he will go knowing that among the inevitable compilations this album will shine out like a beacon saying 'this is my true epitaph'. I will now make sure I hear the other two albums that accompany this one.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the best late Cash album, 20 May 2007
By 
S J Buck (Kent, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This 3rd album in the 'American' series of recordings is amongst the best things Johnny Cash has ever done. As with all the late Cash recordings there is a running thread of passionate honesty and realism that runs throughout the entire the album.

Typical of this is the opening track "I Won't Back Down". Cash is defiant on this track: "Well I know whats right, I got just one life, in a world that keeps on pushing me around, but I stand my ground and I won't back down". This track like the rest is stripped down to a bare minimum. Accoustic guitar with some extra backing vocals on the chorus is all you get, and of because of Cash's fantastic lived in voice, this works to perfection.

Its Cash's voice and the sparse arrangements on this album that make all the covers sound like they were written for him. Neil Diamonds "Solitary Man" and U2's "One" being perhaps the best examples of this. However the best track full stop is Cash's great cover of Nick Caves "The Mercy Seat". Here Cash again restates the running theme through his final albums "I am not afraid die". Full credit to producer Rick Rubin for the arrangement on this track which adds to the already powerful lyric.

I've only just purchased this and I haven't stopped playing it.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of his finest, 12 April 2006
By 
A. J. Holmes - See all my reviews
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From start to finish, this album is fantastic and is a superb example of Cash's unique voice. This album has a distinctly more modern feel than his earlier work - 'Solitary Man' presents us with guitar ballards rather than the 'country + western' music which brought him worldwide fame. However, this album never loses sight of what Cash's music is about: perhaps most clearly shown in his version of Nick Cave's 'The Mercy Seat' - here, Cash's deep and frail voice complements a very lyrical song perfectly. One of the great things about this album is that, although the majority of songs on it are covers, Cash has arranged and performs them in a distinctly personal way and consequently the album has a refreshingly origional feel to it. If you liked 'The Man Comes Around', you'll love this album.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Voice of God, 19 Feb 2001
By A Customer
Johnny Cash is unbelievable. He has no right to make an album this good at his age. When his colleagues are dead, retired or performing schmaltz, Cash has produced an album bordering on the miraculous. He has a voice like a mountain-range - like God. One moment he is gravel and rocks, another a surging river. He lives his songs like few performers and seems to believe in every lyric of every song. The album is approaching perfection...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Solitary man, 6 May 2013
By 
Torben Madsen (Copenhagen, Denmark) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I am quite in the minority on this one, so I owe it to any readers to explain that while I am an admirer of Johnny Cash, I am far from neither an authority nor a superfan. This might just be a five star-album to you, even though it isn't for me.

This is the third of the 'American'-albums by the late Johnny Cash and as such is a very minimal affair. But even in spite of - or indeed because of - this minimalistic setting, Cash still manages to break through. It is a very atmospheric, if monotonous production. It is a brave approach, but it also makes me feel that I am listening to a more or less random selection of songs, rather than an album.

There are fine versions of 'Solitary Man' and 'One', but for me the best track by far is his cover of Nick Cave's 'The Mercy Seat', delivered quite phenomenally. 'I'm Leaving Now', on the other hand, I found quite unbearable. As a whole, for me, 'American III' just never really took off. It's not a bad album, but in my opinion not his best in the series (that would have to be 'American IV').
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The dark corner of bleak.., 18 Oct 2000
By A Customer
Living dead centre in the middle of London means that you get exposure to nearly every kind of music. From Drum'n'bass to the vocal spaceflights of Nusrat Fateh ali Khan. But for me, this was a first. I heard Cash's version of U2's 'One' and was knocked over backwards. An album purchase quickly followed. Johnny Cash, a guitar, some celeb friends. Brought back that feeling of discovering something new and amazing. Compulsory.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cash full of emotion, 6 Nov 2003
By 
Conor McKenna (Belfast United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: American III: Solitary Man (Audio CD)
The emotional power of Cash's voice and personality turn the sounds on this album into a tour de force of human strength.
Honestly one of the best albums I have heard for a long while.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best album I've heard in years, 9 May 2007
I have bought American 2, 3 and 4 so far and this is my favourite. The selection of songs is second to none and Cash rises to the occasion to give a powerful set of performances despite his ailing health. What I love about this album is the passion, humour and defiance of a man nearing the end but determined to go out fighting.

I have bought a lot of albums over the years and I have a reasonably eclectic taste in music and for me this CD stands out because there is no hype, nothing to prove and no showing off, its just an honest portrait of a man late in his career warts and all.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Brilliant!, 20 Mar 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: American III: Solitary Man (Audio CD)
Johnny Cash covers U2 (One). Johnny Cash covers Nick Cave (The Mercy Seat). Johnny Cash covers Neil Diamond (Solitary Man). Johnny Cash covers Tom Petty (I Won't Back Down). Do not worry, although these are songs originally covered by other artists the Man In Black really does make each and everyone of them his own and, quite often, improves on the originals. There are even a few original tunes here aswell such as Nobody and Country Trash, both self deprecating songs carried off with such aplomb that they actually make you feel sorry for the singer!
Johnny cash isn't just about Country music, he is about music full stop. This, along with American Recordings and Unchained, are indespensable albums in ANYONES collection, add them to yours now!
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American III: Solitary Man
American III: Solitary Man by Johnny Cash (Audio CD - 2002)
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