The Magic Whip
From the depths of the Columbia vaults comes a new Johnny Cash album and it's… well, it's OK.
The Man In Black's final years were coloured by collaboration with Rick Rubin, an enormously successful gambit that left us with a certain impression of the country legend – that he was a dark, foreboding presence with a voice that could age whiskey. That's one side of Cash, but it should never overpower the storytelling showman.
Out Among The Stars is drawn from songs recorded in the early 80s, recovered by Cash's son John Carter Cash and souped up for release. Care's been taken over the tracks, which sound great, but they're in a very trad style. So you get little vignettes over shuffling beats and slide guitar (the title track, She Used To Love Me A Lot), maudlin croons (Call Your Mother) and a healthy dose of fun (suicide caper I Drove Her Out Of My Mind is told with sharp relish, If I Told You Who It Was is a saucy little tale).
There are worse ways to spend 40 minutes, but nothing here's going to go down as classic Cash – and the story is, there are four or five more albums' worth of material lurking under a dustsheet somewhere. They'll be for the superfans.