Mitchell: Reminder of how great Cash was
Johhny Cash; Out Among The Stars [Columbia]
This ‘new’ Johnny Cash album is sitting in the top five album sales in most of the western world while it has topped the country charts.
But when the bulk of this album was recorded in the spring of 1984 (there are 2 tracks from an ‘81 session) it almost certainly would have bombed on release.
At the time Cash albums just were not selling as country and western had turned to the pop flavours of ‘countrypolitan’ music and Cash was about to change recording labels (meaning next to no promotion).
Furthermore, it has been reported that Cash wasn’t happy with the pop nature of Out Among The Stars and didn’t push to have it released.
But absence makes the heart grow fonder and there is a huge demand for Cash’s wonderful music and rich baritone voice now that he has passed on—out among the stars.
And this is a fairly strong album.
There is the domestic bliss of the very pretty and poppy sounding Tennessee as well as some pop rockabilly on Rock N Roll Shoes.
There is a classic Cash country gospel on the redemptive I Came To Believe with a slight reference to his then mostly cured drug problems while there is also a rousing duet with his wife June Carter Cash on Baby Ride Easy, that had been a hit a short while before for his stepdaughter Carlene Carter with Dave Edmunds in the U.K.
There isn’t a dud on this strong album where Cash even shows a bit of humour on a few tracks.
Meanwhile, Elvis Costello adds a ‘contemporaneous’ sound to a remake of She Used To Love Me A Lot with eerie, echoed synth and sonic FXs which probably will not pass the test of time.
Old fans won’t be unhappy but at the same time I doubt they are going to rush out and buy up the rest of Cash’s ’80s catalogue.
Out Among The Stars is just a reminder of how great Cash was and the terrific sales reflects how much we love and miss him.
Elvis Presley; Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis [RCA]
In the 1970s Elvis flooded the market with live albums.
He released a half dozen of them in that decade and all have something to recommend them even if the number of concert LPs was overkill.
Most of those albums celebrated some sort of cooked up live ‘event’ like From Hawaii By Satellite or At Madison Square Garden etc.
So it is now 40 years since the original release of Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis and RCA has released this as a 2CD set which greatly expands the recording from the dozen songs of yesteryear to 25 tracks.
RCA also includes the previous gig recorded in Richmond Virginia as it was a note for note ‘rehearsal’ concert for the big Memphis showcase which marked Presley’s first stage performance in his home town in over a decade.
Finally, for good measure, there are also five previously unreleased studio rehearsal tracks highlighted by Good Time Charlie’s Got The Blues.
Elvis trivia buffs will notice that instead of the usual live shot of Elvis on the cover as per force, this set has a picture of his Graceland home emphasizing that Elvis had indeed returned.
I just wonder if the new Cash released will cut into sales for Elvis with those looking for some fine old nostalgia.