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American Recordings Vol 6, Ain't No Grave: Johnny Cash - Almost and album too far,
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This review is from: American VI: Ain't No Grave (Audio CD)
Towards the end of his life, Johnny Cash made a series of great albums with producer Rick Rubin, culminating in `American IV, The Man Comes Around', the last album released in his lifetime. It was a strong run of albums giving him critical and commercial success again.
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.