American (2014, Reissue)
During the holidays it's nice to get some records as gifts, but considering the type of music I mainly listen to, it can prove difficult to list off anything that is readily available at major retailers for family to grab. This past year, when all of the Johnny Cash American Recordings reissues came out, they seemed to be perfect gifting ideas. I put the four that I didn't have the original pressings of on my list, and now they're in my collection. I'll get through all four over the next few weeks.
When the first American Recordings album came out in 1994 I can't honestly say I was paying much attention to Johnny Cash. Though I know this is the record that made him relevant again, it's not really something that entered my little world way back when. It was American Recordings II where I came on board, but I'll write more about that some other time. I did, of course, backtrack and pick up this album a long time ago, but I had just grabbed a used CD.
It is such a wonderful record and I would never question why so many people loved it. It's borderline perfect. The entire record is just Johnny, his guitar and some songs. The gigantic and epic sound he's able to make on this album with so few tools is more than anything to the powerful voice of Johnny Cash. He owns each and every one of the performances in this record. Songs like "Deliah's Gone, "The Beast In Me" and "Like A Soldier" are so impactful and just feel important.
The other bonus is this pressing sounds phenomenal. Everything is crisp and clear. I've honestly never heard these songs sound any better. The odds of anyone reading this review and buying the record based on what I say about the songs of Johnny Cash are pretty slim. Most everyone knows who he is and already knows if they like him or not. But what I can say is this pressing is absolutely worth picking up. If you don't have the album at all, it's essential and while I don't have an original pressing to compare the reissue to, it sounds amazing and may even be worth an upgrade. Maybe not though, I've never heard the original.
Johnny Cash - "Deliah's Gone":
Johnny Cash - "The Beast In Me":