Lost Johnny Cash Album Set To Be Released In March
Posted by Joseph Lee on 12.10.2013
Recorded in the early 1980s...
Billboard reports that Johnny Cash's estate is set to release a lost album from the singer. Out Among The Stars is an album that he recorded with Billy Sherrill in the early 1980s but Columbia Records never released it. The album disappeared when Columbia dropped Cash in 1986. Cash and his wife June Carter Cash kept the tapes along with everything else they got.
Their son, John Carter Cash, said: "They never threw anything away. They kept everything in their lives. They had an archive that had everything in it from the original audio tapes from `The Johnny Cash Show' to random things like a camel saddle, a gift from the prince of Saudi Arabia."
John Carter Cash and the archivists at Legacy Records didn't find the material until last year, long after the family began releasing archival material from Cash. The album will arrive on March 25, 2014, eleven years after Cash's death at the age of 71. Several book, music and restoration projects have been started in the past 18 months to celebrate his 80th birthday and mark the tenth anniversary of his death.
The music comes from a difficult time for Cash personally and professionally. Sherrill, meanwhile, was a producer and Country Music Hall of Fame member who was president of CBS Records Nashville at the time. At the time, Cash wasn't as popular as he was in his heyday. The music is taken from sessions in 1981 and 1984 when country music was changing.
His son said: "Dad was always uniquely himself. And later on the world would come back around. He never modified himself. But Nashville at the time was in a completely different place. It was the `Urban Cowboy' phase. It was pop country, and dad was not that. I think him working with Billy was sort of an effort by the record company to put him more in the circle of Music Row and see what could happen at the heart of that machine."
Columbia released more recordings after the album was made but never used the music from those sessions. Sherrill backed Cash with a band that included Hargus "Pig" Robbins and Marty Stuart, a friend of Cash's. Cash's son and co-producer (and archivist) Steve Berkowitz decided to have Stuart come back to re-record his parts with 30 years more experience. Buddy Miller and Jerry Douglas also helped strengthen the original tapes. The album has twelve songs including a duet with Waylon Jennings and two with June Carter Cash.
His son added: "We were so excited when we discovered this. We were like, my goodness this is a beautiful record that nobody has ever heard. Johnny Cash is in the very prime of his voice for his lifetime. He's pitch perfect. It's seldom where there's more than one vocal take. They're a live take and they're perfect."
John Carter Cash said he didn't think Columbia executives knew what they had. Biographer Robert Hilburn, who wrote Johnny Cash: The Life, said the songs were recorded at a time where Cash thought he "lost his legacy" and was still dealing with his adultery and drug addiction problems. He soon got his career back on track after meeting producer Rick Rubin.
Hilburn said: "Johnny Cash was redeemed, and that was a wonderful lesson. His story is so great and it's so dramatic and it's so much more dramatic than I ever envisioned."