Review Revue: Johnny Cash – American Recordings

I’ve often wondered who might hold the title of “Most Albums in the KEXP Library,” and I wouldn’t be surprised if Johnny Cash held that title. I mean, look at this! In my mind, there is certainly no one more deserving of being this fully represented in our collection, though.

This week for Review Revue, I thought I would dig up his very first Rick Rubin-produced album for American, 1994’s American Recordings. After 5 of these albums, many of us might now take for granted Rubin’s genius formula of Cash and his guitar, stripped down, playing some of his songs and a handful of inspired cover selections, but American Recordings was pretty earth-shaking when it was released. For starters, you had a country legend covering Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits and GLENN DANZIG, for crying out loud. People were bound to notice. And notice they did:

“Just the Man in Black and his guitar — produced by Rick Rubin, who’s better known for producing crunching rap jams and howling death metal. Both are archetypal American outlaws, however, and they apparently bonded. Cash sez he’s never worked so well with a producer, and no wonder – the concept of Johnny and his guitar is so powerful it’s absurd that no one has ever recorded him this way before. Some of these songs were written for him, some are covers, and some are Cash originals. He sings them all in that parched, weather-beaten voice that’s as old as the hills.”

“Oh nooooo!!! Johnny’s starting to look like Tricky Dick Nixon (on acid)”

“May we all be so well preserved…”

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