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Customer Review

on 7 May 2004
Unearthed is a treasure chest of Cash's movingly sung, austerely rich marvels of American music. Although a handful were written by Cash himself, his artistic weight and keen capacity to interpret the songs of others, makes this 5-CD set the stunning legacy of a man who is an icon the history of Earth's music -to call it "country," "contemporary" or "American," although accurate would not do justice to the universal power of his work. What is still more astonishing to me is that these five CDs never fall into the common, tired batch of outakes and discarded mishaps that we are so used to seeing record companies put out, on behalf of other musical legends, nor is it the "sure-thing" approach of gathering classics and re-selling them with the excuse of having being remastered -which so often is impossible to justify or hardly an improvement. No, this is five CDs of authentic greatness, the late work of a man who was beginning to say goodbye to life but was not done with honoring his craft or searching his soul. The fact that three out of five units are entirely dedicated to material recorded but not previously chosen for the American Recordings series, says something about Cash's productivity, but even more about the endless creativity he found partnering with Rick Rubin and the trove of great material they conceived together. Practically every song -including the CD devoted to old hymns and gospel songs- is treated with a consistent austerity of arrangements and focus on Cash's voice; it is amazing how rich they are, without an endless parade of star-guests or elaborate strings, or other witless and predictable avenues often followed by aging stars joining forces with ambitious producers. Here, none of that is indulged on, here Cash and Rubin breathe into life an amazing musical document. Even the fifth CD which gather a cross-section of what already came out in the original four American Recordings is fitting, and will be particularly appreciated by those who do not own such CDs. As far as the specifics of the songs covered, other people before me have already done a great job of describing them. As to the argument on who should buy such expensive and extended set by one artist, I would have a hard time not recommending it to anyone who appreciates great artists in any genre. You can learn more about America listening to this box-set than driving throughout the country over and over. And that's ultimately the legacy of Cash and Rubin's partnership: to have captured the essence of art, transforming an individual experience into a universal message.
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Product Details

4.6 out of 5 stars