Johnny Cash sings one more time, from the "Grave"

Thu Feb 18, 2010 5:50pm EST
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By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - When producer Rick Rubin awkwardly describes Johnny Cash's latest album as "otherworldly," he's not kidding.

The country titan has been dead for almost seven years, and Rubin's American Recordings label will mark the 78th anniversary of Cash's birth on Friday next week by releasing a second posthumous album of new material.

"American VI: Ain't No Grave" is the sixth and final installment in a series of acoustic-oriented albums that sparked one of the unlikeliest comebacks in living memory.

Rubin, the hirsute tastemaker who worked with speed-metal band Slayer and rap trio the Beastie Boys, rescued Cash from a creative and commercial slump in 1993. Together they pored over hundreds of spirituals, folk tunes and challenging rock material by Soundgarden and Nine Inch Nails.

Cash, suffering from a range of ailments, instantly became the darling of hipster rockers who reveled in his well-deserved outlaw image. The pop-leaning country music establishment, meanwhile, looked down on his critical success. The albums were not huge sellers, but yielded a total of six Grammys,

The new album comes from the same sessions as "American V: A Hundred Highways," which was released in 2006 and became Cash's first pop chart-topper in 37 years. They were recorded at Cash's lakeside house near Nashville right up until his death in September 2003, aged 71.


"I feel like 'V' is a little more depressing or a little more about death, and 'VI' seems to be more of a phoenix rising from the ashes," Rubin told Reuters in a recent interview.   Continued...