Shot Of Rhythm

[ Friday, July 07, 2006 ]



I don't know how to feel about the new, posthumous Johnny Cash release, AMERICAN V: A HUNDRED HIGHWAYS. On the one hand, it's certainly a moving collection of material, and Cash doesn't sound quite as ghostly as some early press indicated. Yet and still, I can't help but think that this monumentally somber production finally trips the wire that Rick Rubin's series of American recordings with Cash always threatened to stumble over. On the past couple American releases, starting with AMERICAN III, the classic Cash myth transformed, turning him from Superman into The Broken Man, and much of the original, complicated spirit that marked his career in the first place disappeared. (This is a spirit, by the way, that made it into the first two Rubin productions, especially UNCHAINED, the exceptional, full-band rock and roll album that was their second collaboration.) I don't know that this is how I'd like to remember Cash, which itself makes me wonder if this period of his art - so nakedly, painfully personal - is far more significant than I'm giving it credit for. Maybe Cash's slow march towards the great unknown is worth the examination that the Rubin albums, including this one, offered it. I don't know. Here's two of my favorite cuts from AMERICAN V:

Johnny Cash - "If You Could Read My Mind"

Johnny Cash - "On The Evening Train"

My thoughts on the Cash record are affected by how much I'm enjoying Ian McLagan's recent tribute to his own fallen comrade, Ronnie Lane. SPIRITUAL BOY is one of those rare tribute albums that adds a wonderful coda to the work of the subject, and McLagan succeeds at not only spotlighting the true richness of Lane's talent, but also - importantly - the joyous creativity contained within. SPIRITUAL BOY is a sincere appreciation, with no question, but it also doesn't sound - to me, at least - like the Viking funeral of the last couple Cash/Rubin records. Instead, it feels like an Irish wake, where tears and laughter intermingle in celebration of the departed.

Ian McLagan and the Bump Band - "Itchykoo Park"

Ian McLagan and the Bump Band - "Glad and Sorry"

Take a listen, and let me know what you think. We're all in this together, after all...

On the box right now: Guy Clark, WORKBENCH SONGS. This album, due in late August, already came out on iTunes, and - like all Clark's work - a few of its songs are immaculate.


Dove With Claws [10:11 AM]

[ Tuesday, July 04, 2006 ]


4th of July

Here are three versions of what should be the national anthem, plus one version of the actual anthem to remind us that any song can be transformed through a genius performance.

Woody Guthrie - "This Land Is Your Land"

Bruce Springsteen - "This Land Is Your Land"

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings - "This Land Is Your Land"

Marvin Gaye - "The Star-Spangled Banner"

Be sure to check out David Cantwell's fine piece on the flag-burning question and Danny Alexander's recent discussion of Springsteen's WE SHALL OVERCOME, which - to my mind - both qualify as fine examples of patriotic thinking.

On the box right now: Johnny Cash, AMERICAN V.


Dove With Claws [9:59 AM]