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4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9 out of 5 stars
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 12 July 2013
The third in the series of American Recordings continues to show the class of a master.
In style this album is closer to the first in the series than the second in that the acoustic sounds dominates, although not totally exclusive as on the original "American Recordings".
The performance of "Solitary Man" saw Cash receive a third Grammy from the series.
I personally like "I Won't Back Down", the Tom Petty number and also "Nobody" raises a wry smile.
At the time Cash's health was beginning to fail, the commitment shown to boost his legacy clearly shows.
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on 28 February 2002
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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on 14 May 2017
Yet another great record from the master.
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on 22 March 2017
Great purchase!
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on 23 June 2017
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on 18 July 2017
Great purchase
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on 9 June 2017
Love Johnny Cash, what more can I say apart from a great CD.
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on 19 February 2001
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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on 12 April 2006
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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on 16 September 2003
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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