Feature

Johnny Cash: Out Among the Stars

Johnny Cash has moments on this “lost” early 1980s album, but Columbia Records shelved this project for good reason.

**

“The suits might have been right the first time,” said Kyle Anderson in Entertainment Weekly. That’s the unhappy conclusion many listeners will reach after a few rounds with this “lost” early 1980s Johnny Cash album—a project that Columbia Records shelved not long before cutting ties with the country legend. Yes, Cash has moments—exuding “murderous charm” on the black-comic ballad “I Drove Her Out of My Mind,” for instance. But producer Billy Sherrill’s strings and slide-heavy arrangements “would have sounded remarkably cornpone even 30 years ago,” and Cash sounds uninspired. I’d buy the album just for the two previously unreleased duets with his wife, June Carter Cash, said Noah Berlatsky in TheAtlantic.com. “But that’s basically all there is to recommend.” Cash would prove during his 1990s collaborations with producer Rick Rubin that trying a truly new direction could be invigorating. Here, he was “falling back on familiar shtick and routine,” too cautiously exploring a different path.

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