Though the catalogue of Johnny Cash has been mined numerous times, for acclaimed Bootleg volumes and even a Complete Album Collection box set, there’s still more of the story of the Man in Black yet to be told. A crucial part of that story will be revealed on March 25, 2014 when Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings release Out Among the Stars, a “lost album” comprised of twelve recently discovered studio recordings made by Cash between 1981 and 1984.
Produced by Nashville legend Billy Sherrill (Charlie Rich, George Jones, Tammy Wynette) and recorded at that city’s Columbia Studios and 1111 Sound Studios, Out Among the Stars is a rare closer look at the music being created during one of the lowest ebbs in Cash’s personal and professional lives. His long tenure at the label was coming to a close, with albums like The Baron (1981), The Adventures of Johnny Cash (1982) Johnny 99 (1983) and Rainbow (1985) all failing to ignite the charts despite some fine material worthy of rediscovery. The recordings on Out Among the Stars were made before he departed Columbia for Mercury, where he began his next chapter with 1987’s Johnny Cash is Coming to Town.
On these songs – which are not demos or alternate versions of previously released material – Cash is joined by his wife June Carter Cash and fellow Highwayman Waylon Jennings for duets. He’s supported by a distinguished ensemble of musicians including the young Marty Stuart on guitar and mandolin plus first-call session vets like Jerry Kennedy (guitar), Pete Drake (steel guitar), Hargus “Pig” Robbins (piano) and Henry Strzelecki (bass). Two of the songs, “Call Your Mother” and “I Came to Believe,” are original Cash compositions.
The material that will premiere on Out Among the Stars was discovered in 2012 when John Carter Cash joined the Legacy team to catalogue his parents’ archives in Tennessee and at the Sony Music Archives. Cash states, “When my parents passed away, it became necessary to go through this material. We found these recordings that were produced by Billy Sherrill in the early 1980s…they were beautiful.” He told The Associated Press that “Nashville at the time was in a completely different place. It was the Urban Cowboy phase. It was pop country, and dad was not that. I think him working with Billy was sort of an effort by the record company to put him more in the circle of Music Row and see what could happen at the heart of that machine.” Sherrill, after all, was an architect of the crossover countrypolitan sound that dominated so much of the country music coming from Nashville.
After the jump, we have more details plus the full track listing and pre-order links!
Cash and co-producer Steve Berkowitz enlisted Marty Stuart, Buddy Miller, June’s daughter Carlene Carter and others to “collaborate in restoring the album,” and they completed the recordings at the Cash Cabin Studios in Hendersonville, Tennessee. The results of their work will be unveiled on March 25. You can pre-order Out Among the Stars at the links below!
Johnny Cash, Out Among the Stars (Columbia/Legacy, 2014) (Amazon U.K. Link TBA)
- Out Among the Stars
- Baby Ride Easy (Duet with June Carter Cash)
- She Used to Love Me a Lot
- After All
- I’m Movin’ On (Duet with Waylon Jennings)
- If I Told You Who It Was
- Call Your Mother
- I Drove Her Out of My Mind
- Rock and Roll Shoes
- Don’t You Think It’s Come Our Time (Duet with June Carter Cash)
- I Came to Believe
All tracks previously unreleased.