New Johnny Cash album comes out of vault

John Carter Cash - the son of Johnny Cash - poses for a photo at the Astral/ Virgin Radio building...

John Carter Cash - the son of Johnny Cash - poses for a photo at the Astral/ Virgin Radio building in Toronto on Monday March 10, 2014. (Ernest Doroszuk/QMI Agency)

Jane Stevenson, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 3:55 PM ET

The Man in Black is back 11 years after his death. Well, on record anyway.

The new LP, Out Among The Stars, consists of 12 never-before-released Johnny Cash recordings from the 1980s including two duets with wife June Carter Cash, and guitar and mandolin playing by country star Marty Stuart.

The album was recorded with Nashville producer Billy Sherrill.

“When my parents passed away (in 2003, just months apart), it became necessary to go through their things, to look through the storage facilities and to see what all was there,” says the couple’s only biological son, John Carter Cash, 44, who co-produced Out Among The Stars.

“But there (was) this wonderous bit of unheard music... Sony Legacy has put out a few things already but this stood out as a unique body of work and a meaningful statement by my father from a period in his life, and his career, where he wasn’t getting the appopriate attention I believe.”

We caught up with JCC in Toronto during a promotional tour recently to talk about the new recording and his dad’s lasting musical legacy.

It’s been a long time since your father’s death, why did it take so long for these songs to surface?

We didn’t find it until two years ago. And we really didn’t start considering doing this as a record until early last year.

How far back to these recordings go?

Ten of the songs were done in ‘84, and then 1981 on the (remaining) two songs, produced by Billy Sherrill, who was the head of A&R at Columbia Records at that time in Nashville. This was the Countrypolitan era and country was in quite a different place then... not to discredit it, but (Johnny Cash) just did not fit within that mould. What we have here is a record that truly stands out actually as being a great country record. I don’t hear a song that’s hit in 1984, but we don’t have to hear that now. We’re not there anymore.

What do you hear?

I hear a classic record that tells a great story, that shows a picture of my father when he was at a prime of his life, early 1980s. My dad had gone back into drug addiction in ‘81, ‘82, ‘83, and then late ‘83 he went to the Betty Ford Centre in California, while he was there he completely turned his life over to God, changed everything in his life and his spirit and wrote a song called I Came to Believe.

So the majority of the songs were down when he was sober?

In 1984 when these recordings on Out Among The Stars were done, my father was clear headed, he was focused, he was intuitive. His relationship with his spouse was as close as it ever had been. They were strong together. The family home life was wonderful. I travelled with them on the road quite a bit back then. But, in listening to this record, and going back on working on it, and getting reacquainted with this time in my life, I’m getting to spend time with my old best friend again because that’s the man that I remember from these years.

What was some of the significant work you did as co-producer then?

I called Marty when I began to work on this and I said, ‘Marty, you’re a better guitar player now, than you were then, and your tones are better, and your mandolin sounds better and your playing’s better,’ I said, ‘Why don’t you come and replace your parts?’ So Marty came back in and replaced his guitar and his mandolin so it gave a great opportunity to come back around full circle. This is history, it really is... Buddy Miller played some guitar, Jerry Douglas played some Dobro, added some new music, but hopefully what my hope is that the listener will find this to be seamless.

What else are you working on as a producer?

I’ve been working on the last few years with Loretta Lynn, producing records with her daughter Patsy, and so we have five records finished... She just never stopped recording since 2007. We’ve just been working away. And just waiting to release it in the right fashion.

What modern country artists do you like?

I like Jamey Johnson. I like the Zac Brown Brand. Some of the modern country. I just don’t listen to it. I listen to modern rock. I like the group Dawes quite a bit. I like The Shins and Broken Bells. My kids (18 and eight year old sons, a 12 year old girl) listen to pop too so I got a headful of pop music.

Are you ever surprised at which artists were influenced by your dad?

Snoop Dogg came to The Cabin not too long ago, to my recording studio, just cause my dad had recorded there. I got one of those calls, 'Snoop’s going to be there in 10 minutes.' He was there in two hours. That’s Snoop time.

Twitter: @JaneCStevenson

Jane.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

 


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