Perhaps the most remarkable thing about The Man in Black’s remarkable career, and the key to his longevity, is his elemental relationship with so many strands of American roots music: country, western, folk, rockabilly, even blues – Johnny Cash is the very definition of Americana.
While the point is stretched a bit by the inclusion of songs Cash recorded but didn’t write (“Long Black Veil” “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” “Sunday Mornin’ Coming Down”), the collection is an eye opener into the bluesy soul at the heart of so many songs Cash DID write.
Particularly effective are Clarence Gatemouth Brown and Benjy Davis’s slick shuffle through “Get Rhythm,” Chris Thomas King’s spare acoustic guitar story-song rendering of “Rock island Line,” Garland Jeffrey’s (where the hell has HE been?) novel shuffle-and-accordian take on “I Walk the Line.” Also impressive are Harry Manx’s sitar and blues approach to the standard “Long Black Veil” (The Band OWNS this one), and Corey Harris’s stunning Nyabinghi take on “Redemption” (Corey Harris is a remarkable artist deserving of Ben Harper-type acclaim).
An excellent introduction to The Man for non-country fans.