Unearthed [Box Set] review by Johnny Cash

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  • Released: Nov 25, 2003
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.1 (12 votes)
Johnny Cash: Unearthed [Box Set]

Sound — 8
The Unearthed box set is an amazing collection songs and out-takes from Johnny Cash's recordings with Rick Rubin during the last part of his career. The set contains 5 discs and over 75 songs sung by the legend himself. Most of the songs on this collection are covers, but with Cash's deep, poewrful voice, he easily makes them his own. The fist disc, entitiled "Who's gonna cry", is Cash alone with nothing but an acoustic guitar. This disc is reminiscent of the 3 chord rhythmic pattern Cash has played all his career, and though this causes the songs on the discs to sound similar and repeatative, just remember it was always Cash's strong voice that was front and center in his music. Cash's cover of Kris Kristofferson's "Casey's last ride" stands out as the best. Disc 2, "Trouble in Mind" contains more instruments, much of which were played by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, as well as featuring a number of popular artists. Rock n Roll legend Carl Perkins sings with Cash on cover of Chuck Berry's "Brown eyed handsome man", soundiing like a mix of traditional country and rockability. Disc 3, "Redemption Songs" is near identical to disc 2, with even more musical guests. Joe Strummer joins Cash on his cover of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song". Two legends performing a legendary song, it was amazing, and Cash's age in his voice really adds emphasis on the song. Fionna Apple, Nick Cave, and Glenn Campbell also have their own duets with Cash on this disc. Disc 3 is my personal favorite out of all of them. Disc 4, "My Mother's Hymn Book", is collection of traditional religious songs Johnny has always wanted to play. Similar to disc one with nothing but Cash and an acoustic guitar, Cash adds a more uplifting feel with the age in his voice. He sings these songs like he really means it. "I'll fly away" stands out as the best song on this disc. Disc 5, "Best of Cash on American", is simply a best of collection from Cash's album on the American recordings label. Including Cash's own songs such as "Delia's Gone" and "The man comes around", as well as amazing covers of Danzig's "13", and U2's "One", this disc shows that Cash was at his best all the way to the end of his career. To best way to describe the overall sound of these 5 discs is traditional Johnny Cash meets contemporary Johnny Cash. It's a quite a mix.

Lyrics — 10
Johnny Cash's voice is by far the most unique in popular music. As many covers as there are in this box set, every song on it is pure Cash. For the most part, the songs have a somber tone, most being about death and coming to the end of life's journey, lonliness, and solitude. But it's that kind of writing that fits Johnny's deep, aging voice perfectly, sounding stoic and solitary like he's singing from the bottom of a deep, dark well. The lyrics that Johnny Cash sings really makes you feel the storngest of emotions, whether it be happy, sad, incouraged, or angry. "Father and son", "One", and "Hurt" are probably the most powerful lyrically in the set.

Overall Impression — 10
It's always funny to me when I meet someone who hates country music with a passion but yet loves the music of Johnny Cash. Cash is basically his own genre, and this box set really captures the essence of his last years. "I had the opportunity to sing the songs that I wanted to sing, and that's probably what meant the most" is what Cash said of the time period that the songs on this box set were recorded. This is definatley a must have for any Johnny Cash fan.

5 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I saw this and wanted it so bad. Good review, you helped me make up my mind to buy it.
    i already have the five american recordings and i seen this the other day the only thing that stopped me buying it was it cost 65 squidleys and i didnt have that but wow joe strummer dueting woth the man in black!! i must get it now!
    I am the Drake
    I've been wanting to buy this for so long now. I'm still to broke to get it. I've listened to some of the songs online though. He does a great cover on Neil Young's "Heart Of Gold" on here.
    I have this box set along with "The Legend" box set and the "The Man in Black '63-'69" box set. By far "Unearthed" is my favorite. All three have close to the same songs on them, but this has a few more than the others. This is a must have for any fan of Mr. Cash.