Out Among The Stars Review

artist: Johnny Cash date: 03/26/2014 category: compact discs
Johnny Cash: Out Among The Stars
Released: Mar 25, 2014
Genre: Country, Folk
Label: Legacy Recordings
Number Of Tracks: 12
Originally recorded in the '80s, the album was not released because of a lack of record label backing, but was recently discovered by Johnny's son. It is like a time capsule of real country music.
 Sound: 8
 Lyrics: 9
 Overall Impression: 8
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overall: 8.3
Out Among The Stars Featured review by: UG Team, on march 26, 2014
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Sound: Johnny Cash has been making music since the 1950's, and even after his death in 2003 there have been posthumous releases. "Out Among the Stars" was originally recorded sometime in the 1980's with producer, Billy Sherrill, in an attempt to kick-start Johnny's career back into gear during a slump at the time in his record sales. The album was shelved by Columbia Records, however, and was never released. Johnny's son, John Carter Cash, found the original recordings and facilitated it finally being released after some instruments were re-recorded in 2013. Of note, Marty Stuart played guitar and fiddle in the original and the 2013 recording sessions. There are 12 tracks on the album, with a total runtime of 36 minutes. The track "She Used to Love Me a Lot" was released as a single, which also included a re-mixed version by Elvis Costello.

The album opens up with the title track, "Out Among the Stars," which tells the story of a young man robbing a liquor store and being gunned down by the police. "Out Among the Stars" was actually recorded and released by Merle Haggard, among others, at some point after it was determined that Johnny Cash's version wasn't going to be released - I can't decide which version I prefer. "Baby Ride Easy" is a duet with June Carter, and is just a fun kind of love song. "She Used to Love Me a Lot" is about running across someone that Johnny used to love, and the memories it brings up. "After All" is a sad heartfelt ballad, which is about believing in your friends or even your ex-lovers. "I'm Movin' On" has Waylon Jennings as a guest on the track, and is a lot more energetic than most of the album. "If I Told You Who It Was" is a story about changing the tire for a female country star outside "The Grand Ole Opry," which turned into a one night love affair. The song talks about keeping the identity of the female country star anonymous, but then gives a clue that points to Minnie Pearl. "Call Your Mother" is a kind of breakup song with Johnny asking the woman to call her mother and let her know what's going on while at the same time bringing up a lot of their good memories. "I Drove Her Out of My Mind" is about a girlfriend leaving him for someone who makes more money and him trying to find a way to get her out of his head, and so he makes a plan to drive her off of Lookout Mountain in a Cadillac. "Tennessee" is basically a tribute to the state and talks about the joy of the simple life. "Rock and Roll Shoes" is basically a song about how Johnny Cash was made for the road and playing music and he won't stop till he dies… which is pretty much what happened. "Don't You Think Our Time Will Come" is another duet with June Carter, Johnny's wife, except this one is a more serious love song instead of the more comedic tone of their other duet on the album, "Baby Ride Easy." The album closes out with "I Came to Believe," which is about Johnny Cash finding faith during a rough time in his life. This is the second of the two songs that were solely written by Johnny Cash on the album - the other being "Call Your Mother." The guitars and slide guitar were immaculate on the entire album, and this was probably the standout element of the album next to Johnny Cash's voice. // 8

Lyrics: Johnny Cash has a distinctive vocal style which is one of the reasons I opened my mind to country a long time ago. While Johnny's voice did grow more soulful later in life, it had a strength at the time of the recordings that his late life recordings didn't have. I couldn't find anything to complain about. As a sample of the lyrics, here are some from "Rock and Roll Shoes": "It seems like yesterday/ I heard the people say/ Son, you were born to stray/ someday you'll settle down/ I guess there'll come a time/ maybe I'll toe the line/ right now I'm doing fine/ rolling from town to town/ I don't care where I ride/ I let my feet decide/ I'll do anything but don't ask that I hang up my rock and roll shoes/ hang up my rock and roll shoes/ guitars and ringing tones/ are in my blood and in my bones/ show me a bus and I'll call it home/ I don't want to change." Classic Johnny Cash. // 9

Overall Impression: This release isn't going to be for everybody, but it absolutely shows Johnny Cash doing what he's good at - crafting a story from a song. The album shows several of the many sides of Johnny Cash, from country to blues to gospel. My favorite tracks from the album are "Rock and Roll Shoes" and "Out Among the Stars." // 8

- Brandon East (c) 2014

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