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Johnny Cash, ‘Out Among the Stars’ – Album Review

Getty Images, Hulton Archive

There have been ‘lost’ albums released over the years, but none that I’ve looked forward to as much as this. A new Johnny Cash album will be out everywhere Tuesday, March 25th.

‘Out Among the Stars’ contains 12 recently discovered Johnny Cash studio recordings from 1981 and 1984.

It’s important to note that the tracks are songs you have never heard. They’re not demos, outtakes or alternate versions. They’re new, unreleased tracks, with that familiar Johnny Cash sound.

The disc has some wonderful treats, including two duets with June Carter Cash and one with Waylon Jennings. You may even say it’s an album that is 30 years in the making.  Some of the songs may sound familiar to you, as they are country music classics (‘Rock and Roll Shoes‘, ‘I’m Movin’ On’) but these Cash versions are now being heard for the very first time.

Legacy Recordings was nice enough to share an advance copy to preview and with me being the huge Cash fan that I am, I welcomed the opportunity to review the album. With legendary producer Billy Sherrill (Tammy Wynette, George Jones, Elvis Costello, Charlie Rich) behind this ‘lost’ project, I knew it would be great, but I had no idea how great it would be.

‘Out Among the Stars’

‘Out Among the Stars’ is the title cut that is classic Cash. It’s a great story song that would have made a great single. The two duets with June Carter Cash are sung so naturally, I can almost picture them in the studio smiling with each line.  ‘Don’t You Think It’s Come Our Time’ is my favorite of the two. The lyrics are beautiful.

‘I’m Movin’ On’

The duet with Waylon is a great live version of the 1950 Hank Snow classic ‘I’m Movin’ On,’ a song that has had many incarnations through the years, was a nice surprise on these lost recordings. Amazing.

‘She Used to Love Me a Lot’

‘She Used to Love Me a Lot,’ is very eerie to hear and is an outstanding choice to release as a video, since it tells a great story. You’ll notice that there are two versions of this song. One is recorded as was and the bonus track was remixed. You can decide which one is your preference.

‘After All’

‘After All’ is a heart-wrenching love song that when you hear it, you will believe every word.

‘If I Told Who It Was’

‘If I Told Who It Was’ is stylistically playful and reminiscent of Johnny’s signature tune, ‘A Boy Named Sue.’ I won’t tell who this song is about or how this one ends. All I can say is another country music icon makes a brief appearance on this track. Johnny sounded like he loved recording this song.

‘Rock and Roll Shoes’

Johnny revisits some of his early Memphis sounds and roots with ‘Rock and Roll Shoes.’ A great version of a classic, with some of the best session players showing their stuff.  I keep thinking somewhere in heaven, Johnny is jamming this one with his buddy Ray Charles.

‘I Came To Believe’

There was a time when country music performers would more often than not include a gospel or inspirational song on their albums. ‘Out Among the Stars,’ has a great one in ‘I Came To Believe.’ Pure Johnny magic and inspiration.

Other noteworthy cuts

‘Call Your Mother,’ ‘I Drove Her Out of My Mind,’ and ‘Tennessee’ are also excellent tracks on ‘Out Among the Stars.’

If you’re a Cash fan, run and get this new album of lost treasures. If this is your first Johnny Cash album, this is a good one to whet your appetite.

I can’t wait to add this to my extensive Johnny Cash music collection. I love it and give it a solid A.

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