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on 13 September 2012
American IV is one of Mr Cash's best. Its a lovely album packed full of great songs. A credit to the Great Man.
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on 17 December 2014
Excellent
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on 20 September 2014
Proper
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on 19 December 2014
Perfect.
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on 23 June 2011
'The Man comes around' is a weighty and solemn track that we would all do well to take note of.
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on 29 October 2014
Superb
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on 9 June 2005
In what turned out to be the last of his American Recordings series, Johnny Cash once again stamped his authority on some familiar and not so familiar songs, revisited his back catalogue and layed down some new material. It's pretty clear he did not expect to make another album from the choice of songs here but it is far from all doom and gloom. He sounds old and frail on some of the tracks but nothing can stop his big heart, sense of humour and integrity from shining through.
My personal favourite on this album is Desperado, with Don Henly on backing vocals but there are many great moments. An amazing acheivement for a seventy year old but then John Ray Cash was an amazing man.
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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.
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on 31 October 2003
From the second this album starts, you know you're dealing with something special. I've never listed to Johnny Cash before, but thought I'd take a punt on this just to see what the fuss was about. And what a good idea that was! There's some stunning songs on here, ranging from the wonderful covers of Hurt and Personal Jesus to the title track.
I'd advise buying the version with the video for Hurt on it, as that really helps put things in perspective and is thoroughly moving.
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on 4 March 2010
How did Johnny Cash do it? The man never could sing or play; he forged his 50-year career out of sheer intensity, and never was it more evident than in the title track of this album. If the century produces many more powerful songs than that, it will indeed be extraordinary.

Otherwise, it's an interesting selection of (mostly) covers, with a strong British / Irish influence (apparently, even The Man was inspired by a visit to Nottingham!). Not all of them work; not all are great songs; but for the most part, drumless and 'unplugged', simplicity and sincerity see Cash through.

It's really all about That song, though. Without in any way changing my aversion to Cash's earlier work, it really is worth getting for that alone.
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