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Friday, April 18, 2014

Johnny Cash: Out Among the Stars (Columbia/Legacy)

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Neither the great lost treasure nor the dreck some critics have described, Out Among the Stars is a good example of what Johnny Cash was up to in the decade before Rick Rubin distilled the best of the Man in Black into the Dark Prince of Outlaw Cool. This previously unreleased 1981 session kept his stony vocals upfront and featured perky duets with June Carter Cash (and one for the heck of it with Waylon Jennings) along with the sentimentality and homespun silliness Rubin would expunge. A cast of Nashville professionals who prized polish over sharp edges provides support.