Johnny Cash has earned his first #1 album since 1969 with the release of American V: A Hundred Highways, according to Billboard.
Cash, who died in 2003, adds his name to the list of artists who have found considerable posthumous commercial success. This adage about death being good for a career was wonderfully and wickedly illustrated in Tom Petty's biting song "Joe" from The Last DJ: "We could move catalog if he'd only die quicker." Of course, The Man in Black managed to sell a couple of records while he was alive.
Several artists have seen some of their best sales figures following their passing. Elvis Presley had a #1 single in the UK only a few years ago. Elliott Smith's posthumous release From a Basement on the Hill had the best first-week sales of any of his albums. Sublime's self-titled album is the band's best-selling disc. Tupac Shakur and Jimi Hendrix have now released more albums dead than they did alive.
In addition to topping the Billboard Albums Chart, Cash's A Hundred Highways has also ended the seven-week reign of the Dixie Chicks on the Country chart. And here I thought the country music fans and industry were finished with the Dixie Chicks. Wishful thinking, I guess.
Several Blogcritics.org writers have given A Hundred Highways a critical listen. Does the album deserve this #1 debut? Check out these reviews and find out what Modern Pea Pod, Stephen V Funk, El Bicho, and I had to say about it:
- DJRadiohead says, "Johnny Cash's willingness to immortalize his frailty and mortality was one more act of defiance from a man personified the act."
- Modern Pea Pod says, "While it may be hard for some to take and immerse themselves in, it is not a record which should be shied away from. It is a work of art, from one of the legends of American music – and from a great and departed man."
- Stephen V Funk says, "Overall, though, American V respectfully and lovingly completes and realizes the last artistic statement of a legend. Listening to this album, it's hard to believe that Johnny Cash isn't still among us, still singing, still recording. Thanks to Rick Rubin, in a way he still is.
- El Bicho says, "Like all great art, American V entertains, enlightens and inspires. Cash opens up with such frankness and humility that he makes me want to become a better person."
- Glen Boyd says, "This is without a doubt one of the saddest records I've ever listened to. If you cry at certain movies, you may need a hanky or two to listen to A Hundred Highways. It is also remarkably poignant and beautiful, and a fitting final chapter to one of the greatest stories in music history."