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.
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.
on 28 December 2005
As a diehard fan of the late, great John Ray Cash I was left saddened when I heard of the great deteriation of the man in black's health and general well being.
This album left me in tears, like many others who have followed him through thick and thin, through the years when JC was suffering and a victim of drugs and alcohol abuse and also through those great times and there were many.
The songs featured in this album are moving, hearing John's voice in the songs is not much different from the old times and his early years and still contains the unique characteristics which make him so well known throughout the music world - but what has changed and it is noticed as soon a sthe first song hits you - is the emotion and frailty in his voice. Emotion really does pour out from his songs, even though some are covers example Desperado and the Nine Inch Nail's song Hurt he still manages to make them his own for the album and his fans. The song hurt is especially apt in that he is now an old man, feeble and weak and after his home/museum 'The House of Cash' was struck by flooding it goes to show that every empire turns to dirt no matter how rich, in money terms or in health and family. In this song he sings 'everyone I know goes away in the end' and not long after this song was released his wife June Carter Cash sadly passed away after a battle with major heart problems.
When June died Johnny knew his life would crumble. He was already wheelchair bound and sufferring from Diabetes and respiratory problems added to his sight which was partial and he wanted to do something, to take his mind off of it and do what he enjoys best - singing. Sadly in September 2003 he died at Nashville baptist memorial hospital. This album is a fitting end to a staggering career and is the perfect farewell to his fans of all creeds, colours and ages. If you are a fan of Cash you will love it, if you are a fan of Music you will acknowledge it and if you are a human you will respect it.
John Ray Cash
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!
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.
This was to be the last record Johnny Cash released in his lifetime, and it is a fitting finale to his illustrious career.
In the last few years of life he had enjoyed an artistic, critical and popular renaissance with the American series of albums, recorded with producer Rick Rubin. Each was very different to the others, but all were sympathetic to Cash's style and mood, and drew the best from the great man.
This fourth entry in the series is made all the more moving by the knowledge that it turned out to be Cash's last. There is a feeling that in these songs Cash is either looking back over his life, or peering over the approaching boundary, and telling us of what he could discern of the other side. There is a feeling of spirituality about the powerful opener `The Man Comes Around', almost a joyous looking forward to meeting the big fella himself. The second track, `Hurt', is a blowaway performance that just knocks me sideways. It is a song so laden with regret for the people he had hurt in his tempestuous life. The singing is just so packed with raw emotion it really makes you sit up and listen. The rest of the album has a slower tone, and Cash's poor health starts to show in his failing voice, especially on slower tracks such as `Danny Boy'. There is a grim humour to his reworking of the gallows tale `Sam Hall', and the closer, `We'll Meet Again', presumably sung for his recently deceased wife June Carter Cash, is a slow, heartfelt rendition that will bring a lump to the throat. It's a fine song to end his last album with, and hopefully in the next life we'll hear Johnny Cash again.
Five stars, this is an essential album.
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.
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.
on 21 November 2002
If you like the music and voice of John R Cash, then The Man Comes Around wont be hard to sell to you. From 'Hot & Blue Guitar' at Sun Records in the 50's, 'The Fabulous Johnny Cash' to 'Heroes' at CBS, 'Coming to Town' to 'Mystery of Life' at Mercury, and the five American Recordings (including the Nelson duet live show), I have every album by "The Man", and 'The Man Comes Around' is right up there with his best work. With almost 50 years of quality work, John R Cash is a true genius at making music.
Having written over 1000 songs, the self written title track reveals Johnny's superb lyrical talent is as good as ever, but it's the cover versions that hit you in the face and 'Hurt' for his pure genius at making every song his own. You actually question if Paul Simon really wrote 'Bridge Over Troubled Water', and the same with Lennon & McCartney's 'In My Life', and surely the name Cash is credited with writing 'The First Time, Ever I Saw Your Face', 'Hurt', and 'Personal Jesus'.
It is Personal Cash.
This indeed, is the true deep genius of "The Man", but should you want to be foot tappin' around your house, I suggest you purchase 'Classic Cash' (Mercury), or another 'best of' compilation, but if you want to sit down in your living room in your arm chair with your feet up and actually FEEL like "The Man Has REALLY Come Around", then this album will do that!
on 28 February 2004
In the last decade or so of Cash's life he apparently was often told by doctors that his ill health was gaining in severity and he received several warnings that his time was almost up.
His "American" series of albums were I believe all recorded with the shadow of Death chasing Cash through the 1990's.
Cash knew that Death was quickly gaining on him when he set out to record American IV: The Man Comes Around, and this knowledge is reflected in the choice of songs - both originals and covers.
The most astounding original song present is The Man Comes Around, John's relationship with God over the course of his life poured into one song and perhaps a statement that he was prepared for whatever faced him in the near future.
The choice of covers may be surprising to some, but that perhaps would be to misunderstand the man that was Johnny Cash - always ready to do something different and not what was expected of him.
And so the two most unexpected songs are both from alternative-electronic bands Depeche Mode (Personal Jesus - performed here with "Red Hot Chili Peppers" John Frusciante on guitar) and Nine Inch Nails (Hurt).
That Cash should ever have even listened to these songs let alone want to cover them may be a surprise to some, but as stated elsewhere - it's almost like the original songwriters (of all the covers present) were just channels through which the songs would be released and eventually find their way to their true home, with Cash...
At the moment Hurt seems to be one of the most talked about songs ever recorded by Cash and perhaps for good reason. This enhanced CD features the accompanying promo video for the song (to be played on your PC, not a DVD) and it truly is amongst the best music videos ever made, if not the best. Shots of an extremely frail looking Cash with his guitar performing the song, interspersed with ironically "old" footage of a young Cash with his wife and family and the wrecked Cash Museum. It's pretty hard to watch at several moments, including the framed photo of hs mother being shown during the line "Everyone I know goes away in the end...", the moments when Cash's wife looks like she's going to break down and the rapid-shot build up towards the end whilst hearing the saddest lyrics you'll ever hear (in this context) are impossible to watch the first time without your eyes filling up. Cash's son recently described the video (referring to Cash) as "his life completely". The effect this video has on people can't be explained, just watch it and you'll see and feel.
But the impact of Hurt shouldn't detract from the rest of the album.
The Beatles "In My Life" was always a fantastic song but the cynics amongst us (including me sometimes) often wonder why John Lennon, at the time not long out of his teens, was singing such a song. Other reviewers state this cover is weak but that's missing the point by a million miles. Cash's voice, despite still being very deep, is very frail on this song and although he clearly isn't doing this on purpose it adds to his honesty and reasons for wanting to sing the song. In his 70's Cash was more than qualified to sing these words.
The rest of the album maintains the same high quality throughout and really I can't recommend it enough to absolutely anyone who likes quality non-pop music, Johnny Cash fan or not you'll love this.
Despite the sombre tone of a lot of the album, it does end on a very high note with an extremely cheeky take-on of We'll Meet Again (the albums true closing track, Big Iron has been tagged onto the end of this CD) which features the whole "cast" who appeared on the album singing along and Cash knowing full well the context in which he is singing "Will you please say hello to the folks that I know, tell 'em I won't be long" yet he still sings it like a rebellious cheeky little boy !!!
John knew he was going to meet The Man soon and covering this song showed his humour and defiance to the end. No final expression of regret or shame, no brash statements of a life fulfilled to the maximum, no requests for pity or sympathy....he just tells us "We'll Meet Again". Simple as that. Brilliant.
You'll never ever own another album like this - you have to buy it.