Nothing Like Dying To Make A Bit Of Money

Choose My Music this week was picked by a really top guy by the name of Mark Cann. You can find him on twitter right here. Mark and I only live a town or two apart, we frequent the same comedy club on occasions and followed each other on three different social networks over a period of 5 years. Oddly we have never met….maybe it is better that way.

I should also point out that this site now has its own Twitter account. So please follow @ChooseMyMusic

Anyway, Mark kindly picked the combination B:A:26 this morning which lead me to this album.

Johnny Cash – My Mother’s Hymn Book
Amazon Link: My Mother’s Hymn Book

The resurgence of Johhny Cash in the late 1990′s and at the turn on the millennium was nothing but spectacular.

Like many musicians who plied their trade in the 60′s & 70′s, the 1980′s was perhaps not the kindest period for the self proclaimed Man in Black. His record sales were in serious decline and he battled yet further addiction to painkillers thanks to being kicked in the stomach by an ostrich. By the end of the decade he was dropped by Colombia Records, who he was signed to for over 20 years…..Johnny Cash’s mainstream music career was effectively over.

That was until U2 came along, which provided Cash with an appearance on the Zooropa album, which lead to a recording contract with Rick Rubin’s American Recordings record label.

The first two releases barely scratched the surface, but Cash was finding a new audience and when American III: Solitary Man was released in 2000 the big time had returned.

As for this album, this is perhaps the only one in the series which solely relies on Johnny Cash’s vocal and acoustic guitar. No guest appearances, no bass, no drums  – and this is perhaps what Cash does best.

As the album title suggests, the track list is made up of old hymns that Cash remembers singing with his mother while growing up amongst the cotton fields in perhaps the appropriately named Kingsland in Arkansas.

Originally the album was released as part of the ‘Unearthed’ box set, which as a big Cash fan at the time, caused significant anger from me.

From memory, the original release date was already set prior to Cash’s death in September 2003 as was a perfectly acceptable price point (of around £40-£50). As soon as news of his passing broke the release date was shelved and fans were left hanging. A new date was set for November 2003 and so was a new price of between £80 to £100. Nothing like someone dying to make companies a bit more money.

Since that point I have always felt uneasy buying anything else released under the American Recordings banner. American V and VI has since been released, both topping the US charts – but I don’t think those albums will ever grace my collection. It no longer feels right.

Of course a huge part of me is grateful of American Recordings. There is a significant possibility that without hearing his version of U2′s One while updating the album chart wall in Tower Records, I may have never bothered to give Johnny Cash a listen….

….But there are some things which just need to be left alone.

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