American IV: The Man Comes Around

American IV: The Man Comes Around

4.5 6
by Johnny Cash
     
 

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Inspired by a dream of Queen Elizabeth II and verses from the Book of Revelations, Johnny Cash's "When the Man Comes Around" embodies everything that's great about the Man in Black, from the authority he brings to his recitations to the vibrancy of the writing to the anxiety-ridden Judgment Day atmosphere evoked by an insistently strummed acoustic guitar and a gospel… See more details below

Overview

Inspired by a dream of Queen Elizabeth II and verses from the Book of Revelations, Johnny Cash's "When the Man Comes Around" embodies everything that's great about the Man in Black, from the authority he brings to his recitations to the vibrancy of the writing to the anxiety-ridden Judgment Day atmosphere evoked by an insistently strummed acoustic guitar and a gospel piano. It's the second great new song Cash has introduced this year, following "Tears on the Holston River," from Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Vol. III, and it's hands-down the highlight of American IV, the latest in Cash's collaborations with producer Rick Rubin. But there are a lot of close seconds here, including Cash canon favorites such as "Give My Love to Rose" -- reprised as a dirge, the mise en scène set by a flat-picked acoustic guitar and a wall of moody chords, courtesy of Benmont Tench on harmonium -- and "Sam Hall," which he originally recorded for 1965's grand Sings the Ballads of the True West, in which the title character gleefully recounts the events leading up to his hanging for murder ("I'll see you all in hell/damn your eyes!"). Not surprisingly, murder, redemption, and the Old West figure prominently throughout, in Cash's own songs and in some interesting covers, such as Sting's "I Hung My Head," a murderer's repentance on the day of his hanging, and the Eagles' well-thumbed "Desperado," with Don Henley adding a guest vocal. With keyboardist Tench augmenting the acoustic lineup, there's hardly a moment that isn't captivating in mood alone, whether it's the slow-building crescendo mounting behind Cash's bleak reading of Trent "Nine Inch Nails" Reznor's "Hurt" or the plaintive organ lines providing the sole support to a forthright take on "Danny Boy." Fiona Apple adds an expressive vocal to Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge over Troubled Water," Nick Cave wobbles through Hank Williams's "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," and a mess of folks billed as "The Whole Cash Gang" sign off the album with a touching, folk-flavored rendition of the poignant pop classic "We'll Meet Again." All that's left to say is, I hope so.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Zac Johnson
Johnny Cash's fourth project with producer Rick Rubin continues on the same path as many of their previous releases: Cash's warm and rumbling baritone over minimal production and gentle duets with some surprising guests. One of the things that sets American IV: The Man Comes Around apart from the others is Cash's song selections. The success he experienced with his previous interpretations of contemporary songwriters (Soundgarden's "Rusty Cage," Nick Cave's "The Mercy Seat") is applied to this album with varying degrees of success. His throaty reading of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt" easily fits into his "Man in Black" persona, and the spiritual conviction underlying Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus" is certainly powerful. Unfortunately, the inclusion of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" (featuring a lost-sounding Fiona Apple) and a passionless snooze through the Beatles' "In My Life" should have been so much stronger (given the subject matter of both songs and Cash's prolific life story). One of the reasons his previous covers were so successful is that in the past he had chosen some pretty obscure songs (Bonnie Prince Billy's "I See a Darkness" and Beck's "Rowboat," to name a couple) and reinterpreted them with his unique perspective and unmistakable voice. However, there is really no need to hear his versions of the Irish standard "Danny Boy" or the clunky rendition of Sting's "I Hung My Head," since something about them just doesn't fit -- either Cash wasn't entirely comfortable with the song or the performance was never fully realized. Luckily, the new songs Cash wrote for the album are pretty strong, and his cover of the standard "We'll Meet Again" is among the best versions of the song ever recorded. It is a relief to hear that, although Cash's voice is clearly older and not the booming powerhouse it was in the earlier Sun and Columbia days, he's still got some punch left in him, and the wisdom he's gained in his later life seeps through between the grooves, revealing a man who has lived through it all and lived to tell the tale.
Entertainment Weekly - Holly George-Warren
Cash has once again... written an apocalyptic title track and put his stamp on an eclectic batch of material. (A-)

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Product Details

Release Date:
11/05/2002
Label:
Lost Highway
UPC:
0044006333922
catalogNumber:
063339
Rank:
6607

Tracks

  1. The Man Comes Around  - Johnny Cash
  2. Hurt  - Johnny Cash
  3. Give My Love to Rose  - Johnny Cash
  4. Bridge Over Troubled Water  - Fiona Apple
  5. I Hung My Head  - Johnny Cash
  6. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face  - Johnny Cash
  7. Personal Jesus  - Johnny Cash
  8. In My Life  - Johnny Cash
  9. Sam Hall  - Johnny Cash
  10. Danny Boy  - Johnny Cash
  11. Desperado  - Don Henley
  12. I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry  - Nick Cave
  13. Tear Stained Letter  - Johnny Cash
  14. The Streets of Laredo  - Johnny Cash
  15. We'll Meet Again  - Johnny Cash

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Johnny Cash   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Vocals
Marty Stuart   Acoustic Guitar,Track Performer
Nick Cave   Vocals
Don Henley   Vocals
Billy Preston   Piano,Keyboards
Mike Campbell   Acoustic Guitar
Benmont Tench   Organ,Piano,Harmonium,Keyboards,Mellotron,Vibes,Pipe organ,Wurlitzer
Thom Bresh   Acoustic Guitar
Jack Clement   Dobro
David Ferguson   Ukulele
John Frusciante   Acoustic Guitar
Jeff Hanna   Acoustic Guitar
Terry Harrington   Clarinet
Randy Scruggs   Acoustic Guitar
Smokey Hormel   Acoustic Guitar,Slide Guitar
Kerry Marx   Acoustic Guitar
Joey Waronker   Drums
Fiona Apple   Vocals
Roger Manning   Piano,Harmonium,Mellotron,chamberlain,Orchestra Bells,Tack Piano
Laura Cash   Fiddle
Whole Cash Gang   Vocals

Technical Credits

David Ferguson   Engineer
Vladimir Meller   Mastering
Rick Rubin   Producer
Thom Russo   Engineer
Christine Cano   Art Direction
Andrew Scheps   Engineer
John R. Cash   Arranger,Adaptation
John Carter Cash   Producer,Engineer
Chuck Turner   Engineer
Ross Parker   Composer
Frederick Edward Weatherly   Composer

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