OUT AMONG THE STARS, SONY MUSIC CANADA/LEGACY RECORDINGS
This is a rarity in the world of posthumous releases. Such works are most often collections of outtakes. In this case the album, as envisioned by Johnny Cash, was complete and ready to go when his label decided not to put it out. Country music was changing, not (arguably) in a good way, and Johnny Cash was no longer at the peak of his popularity. Time went by. Cash continued to record music, his style evolved and he eventually became popular again as a new generation of fans discovered his music. 30 years passed and the recordings resurfaced. John Carter Cash took the tapes, added some parts, had others rerecorded and remixed, and put the album out.
Was it worth it? No. The material is not Cash’s best. Most of the songs are forgettable and only likely to be interesting to people who absolutely have to have everything Johnny Cash ever recorded. In some cases, the music and the lyrics seem incongruous. The title track is a case in point: the song is a dark tale of a young man who makes some poor decisions, loses hope and comes to a bad end. Yet, the music is upbeat and almost happy.
It’s not all bad, though. Two tracks stand out from the rest: one, a version of Hank Snow’s “I’m Moving On,” with Waylon Jennings, is the highlight of the album. A duet with June, “Don’t You Think It’s Come Our Time,” evokes memories of a gentler era and stylistic influences of the Carter family. Download these cuts, if you want to and disregard the rest.
By Bruce Pollock