Hubby and I are huge Johnny Cash fans, and there has been much heated discussion in our house about this newly released collection of classic Johnny Cash songs remixed by artists such as Alabama 3 (think Sopranos theme), Count de Money, Snoop Dogg's new QDT team, and Pete Rock. Since our musical tastes vary widely (dance, blues, hip hop, classic rock, punk, rockabilly, country, Motown, Stax,….) but we tend to like "original" sound, we really weren't sure about this. I decided to refrain from looking at any reviews until we had listened to the CD and watched the "making of" video which is also available at the Johnny Cash Remixed website.
The project was Executive Produced by John Carter Cash (Johnny and June's son), Snoop Dogg, and Mathew Knowles (Beyoncé's father), so there is some real music pedigree and blood connection to the original music in this work, which was conceived as a way of bringing some of Cash's seminal music to a wider audience. As my husband is a Southerner born and bred and LOVES Johnny Cash I let him listen first. His response was that I "had to listen to it" because it "managed to be respectful to Cash's music while still interesting in a contemporary way."
So I listened, and then listened again and again. And while I found some of the new mixes tiresome (Snoop Dogg's conversational remix of "I Walk the Line" is a bit too forced and overdone while Kennedy's "Sugartime" sounds like a bad repetitive commercial jingle), I generally enjoyed the plays on classic country blues. Philip Steir's "Get Rhythm" makes me want to dance my blues away just like the shoeshine guy whose story is the song, and Count de Money's remix of "Big River" is riveting.
Then I decided to see what others have had to say and was truly shocked to see the negative reviewer and listener response to this controversial recording. Rolling Stone's Mark Kemp calls it "musical comedy" while Pitchfork Media's Stephen Duesner liken it to "a small, remote geyser through which a little bit of hell bubbles up into our world." Even our very own Lisa Solod Warren said back in August, "The album is frankly a disappointment."
Well, either we have absolutely no taste in music whatsoever or this album really is that controversial, and I would prefer to believe the latter. If Johnny Cash Remixed is causing this much of a stir then it is worth a listen, and the majority of reviews notwithstanding I think you may be pleasantly surprised.