60 of 60 people found the following review helpful
on 27 October 2002
Johnny Cash has with his American Recordings finally found his place in the world of pop music. With his versions of more recent hits by artists like U2 and Nick Cave and re-recordings of some old songs he has brought country music to a new generation, whose knowledge of mr. Cash was limited to a version of "Ring of Fire" on a heavily discountet compilation CD.
"The Man Comes Around" sees Cash taking on "Hurt" by Nine Inch Nails and "Personal Jesus" amongst others. Even a version of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" ends up sounding remarkably fresh. The highlight of the album is the title track, where Cash describes the scene of Judgement Day, complete with Bible readings at beginning and end. That song alone, together with the massive acoustic build-up of "Hurt", makes the fourth American Recording a true masterpiece.
102 of 103 people found the following review helpful
on 14 February 2004
When Johnny Cash passed away recently the music world wept. And with good reason. One of the pillars of integrity and greatest songwriters of the last 50 years lost forever is a sad thing indeed. His American Recordings cycle will forever stand out as one of the great recording cycles of all time, and the astonishing thing is that he completed them at a time of his life where he not only was discounted by most of the music establishment but also battled against illness for many years.
Like the other albums in the cycle, The Man Comes Around is a mix of his own songs, reworkings of his earlier materiel and carefully selected covers. The album starts off with the title track that surely must be one of the strongest songs in recent years with its old testament view of things to come. The whole album goes from strength to strength, but there is one real stand out tracks for me, this being his cover of Nine Inch Nails "Hurt". I am a fan of NIN, but this version blows the original out of the water. It is both powerful and moving and for me this is the standout musical moment of the last 5 years, it makes me want to cry every time i hear it. You NEED to own this album, amongst my 2000+ albums this is in the top 3. And i wonder if he did know something we didn't when he ended the album with "We'll meet again".
Truly a classic and an album that should be in every record collection. I can not recommend it enough.
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 16 September 2003
After more than five decades of making tremendous music that made listeners angry, enchanted and touched in equal measure, it would turn out that 'The Man Comes Around' would be Johnny Cash's swansong. For his final studio album, Cash (alongside producer Rick Rubin) presents a collection of simply overwhelming passion and beauty.
His final album begins with the finest track Cash had written for twenty years. 'The Man Comes Around' is an epic tale of the apocalypse, interpreting the Book of Revelations with uplifting exuberance. Restraint, resignation and a desire for peace pervade the prophetic imagery. 'The Man Comes Around' is truly beautiful and furious in equal measure.
Later he exhumes ancient standards like 'Danny Boy' and 'Streets of Laredo' and allows them to harness a new elegance. Cash even delves into his own bag and rearranges the dark humour of 'Sam Hall' as well as adjusting the already beautiful 'Give My Love To Rose'. Elsewhere, The Beatles' 'In My Life' becomes breathtakingly poignant. How could it not be when sung by a man with such a wealth of experience (especially when one bears in mind how young both Lennon and McCartney were when they wrote it)? The song becomes everything it should be when it falls into Cash's world-weary hands - touching the heart and soul with every hint of its deeper meaning.
It is a tribute to Cash's immense talent that he takes a song as hoary as 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' and totally reanimates it. Simon and Garfunkel's masterpiece has been played so many times the listener has become utterly numb any impact it once had. Cash, with his weathered, frayed voice makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. At 72 years of age, few, if any could match the emotional power Cash could generate.
At times the track selection may seem odd but Cash is always up to the task at hand. He captures 'I Hung My Head', leaving the listener in no doubt that the song was always more Cash's than it was Sting's. Then along with Nick Cave, he does justice to Hank Williams' 'I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry'. The slithering blues groove of Depeche Mode's 'Personal Jesus' is another unexpected highlight. On these tracks Cash taps into the essence of each song and truly makes them his own.
However, it will be his staggering rendition of Nine Inch Nails' 'Hurt' that ensures this album's prominence. Where Reznor's original was a troubled paean to drug addiction, Cash infuses the track with genuine heart to accompany the bitterness. Cash treats the song with such honesty that adds to what was an already powerful mantra in Reznor's hands. Frankly it's the only song of the last decade to move me into an awed silence every single time I hear it.
Perhaps fittingly the album comes to an end with the sentimental classic 'We'll Meet Again'. It closes with the prophetic line, "We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when / but I know we'll meet again some sunny day." Rest In Peace Johnny. You will be greatly missed.
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 13 November 2003
This is the latest in the line of American Recordings produced by Rick Rubin and continues the successful formula of Johnny Cash, with a minimum of backing, mostly covering songs which you wouldn't associate with country music.
The real triumph on this album is his cover of "Hurt" a song about drug addiction, which Johnny brings a whole new meaning to, and if listened to in conjunction with the award winning video, in which he looks so vulnerable, in contrast to that strong bass voice, it's extremely moving.
His own song, the title track "When the man comes around" is the strongest song he's written in years.
I always think his voice works best when he sings songs you don't expect and this is demonstrated on "personal Jesus" which is another standout track.
I don't think the covers of "Brige over troubled water","Desperado",I hung my head" or "streets of Laredo" work to the same degree. They are not badly done, they just don't drag you out of your comfort zone in the way covers of artists such as Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode and on his previous album U2, Nick Cave and Will Oldham do.
All considered, definitely a good buy, but doesn't quite match the heights achieved by American III, Solitary Man.
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 29 March 2006
Buy it, buy it, buy it.
Like a Roy Orbison song, this collection of cover versions and Cash's own material, drips with emotion. Cash never had the greatest voice, but it was undeniably distinctive.
The frailty and pain evident in 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' more than compensates for the lack of perfect pitch and adds to the uplifting end of the song. 'I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry' - after listening to Cash's version you'd better believe it.
We should be grateful for this kind of music - only a very few people could have lived a life that would allow recordings like these to be made.
A masterpiece from a TRUE legend of music.
63 of 65 people found the following review helpful
on 30 March 2006
My rock/grunge/metal-loving teenagers introduced me to 'Hurt' last year. I have always preferred rock, metal, folk, soul, classical music to anything remotely Country & Western. I knew nothing of Johnny Cash but his early reputation. So I went to see 'Walk the Line' on the basis of that one song and its staggering video. The film itself proved inspirational too and I owe much to Joaquin Phoenix for that. My kids are clearly more broad-minded than I have ever been - the loss is mine. This CD has so much to give, such range and so much depth. I hope that anyone reading this will benefit from my mistake and discover the Man in Black sooner than I did!
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 27 April 2003
Cash has never sounded better. His own songs on this album are fantastic, but the covers are the stars. "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face", "In My Life" and (astonishingly) "Personal Jesus".
"In My Life" is one of those exceedingly rare moments on record when you can feel the hairs on the back of your neck standing up. An old man singing a song about a full life, it's beautiful, sad and immensely powerful at the same time.
Minimal production pushes Johnny's fantastically craggy voice to the forefront.
A stunning album. Could it be Johnny's best yet?
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 15 August 2007
I own all the Johnny Cash American Recordings and have listened a great deal to them all. All 5 albums are good, although my least favorites are the first and last ones. Of the whole lot, still, this is the one to take to a desert island.
A Man Comes Around is recorded at a time Cash's health is getting worse. One senses the urgency in delivering the tunes and yet having the strength and power to fulfill such a mission. As on Unchained and Solitary Man, Cash took many cover songs and made them his own. Cases in point are songs like U2's One and Tom Petty's I Won't Back Down. On this album Cash really pushed the envelope, taking even very well known classics and making them, for those who hear them, in a sense his own.
The power is evident on the opening title track in which Cash melds together quotations from the bible forming a coherent song about the approaching hand of death; he obviously means business. The following track, Hurt, is, of all things, a Nine Inch Nails cover in which Cash changed the lyrics slightly. The vocal in the song makes it so poignant that the original songwriter has admitted (in a complementary way) that Cash basically stole it from him and made it his own. What follows are mostly eclectic covers done in a tender and yet forceful manner. There is not a single weak tune on it, no need for a remote control for this one. The scaled down version of Bridge Over Troubled Water is worth paying special note to, the text comes much more to life as opposed to the more produced version done by Simon & Garfunkel.
This album is among only a handful of albums released during the last 10 years I rate, from start to finish, as being close to perfection. If you want something more than a Johnny Cash compilation, this is the one to pick.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 19 February 2004
Not having the greatest of knowledge about Cash when I bought this album, I naturally thought, hmm, that's nice after the first hearing. But after reading the wonderful autobiography, I came back, realising what a marvellous assortment of assembled covers and new compositions this is. The novel acts as a conclusion to a 50 year music career and a 70 year life.
On the insleeve Cash tells us he wrote some 30 pages of lyrics for title track The Man Comes Around and it shows. Lifting pieces of scripture from The Book of Revalations, incorporating them into a fluid and tuneful number there is an intensity of feeling matched by the mans' faith in God.
On the matter of the covers, there is a great diversity in choice and unfortunately quality. A brilliant, reflective cover of NIN's Hurt is closely followed on the playlist by a less than inspiring cover of In My Life. Lyrically, it may fit perfectly, but on hearing, it jarrs no end. A not quite so disastorous cover of Desperado also doesn't fit in too well with the albums tone, but these are minor quibbles.
The album derserves to be a classic and is in my view the best of the Rubin collaborations, dealing with themes of love and loss, faith and nostalgia(bordering on remorse). If someone were to write a movie on his life, you wouldn't believe it.
I seriously urge you, if you have a computer, to buy this enhanced CD to witness the video for Hurt, probably one of the best ever.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 27 June 2005
Many of the songs on the album I like by the original artists, and as a rule I am one of those people who rarely likes a cover version. However the giant of music who was Johnny Cash takes each one and adds such poignancy. Another reviewer was right get to his cover of In My Life and you damn well better cry, the Beatles sang as young men this song Johnny was looking down the barrel of his own mortality and was prepared. Even if you are not a fan listen to his American recording as stand alone pieces of work and if you can afford the time read his autobiography. The man in black will surely be sitting next to the man in white now.