- STEVE EARLE: TERRAPLANE: 2015: 4 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: Steve had done country- rock- folk- bluegrass and now it was time for a blues album. The blues that Earle pays tribute to are the Texas style blues- Lightinin’ Hopkins style. A very good album but not the most listened to Earle album for me. Very well done but I am not hoping for another blues album from Steve.
- GEORGE HARRISON: CLOUD 9: 1987:5 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: It seemed like George had retired after Gone Troppo- 5 years without an album- the time away worked well for him. Cloud 9 is not only an excellent album but its a fun album. There was also the surprise #1 hit single Got My Mind Set On You-and George’s look back at The Beatles “When We Was Fab” #23. The album was a critical and commercial success and the final solo album he would release during his lifetime. He would be a driving force with The Traveling Wilburys for two albums.
- VAN MORRISON: BORN TO SING: NO PLAN B: 2012: 4 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: Van’s first album since 2008- four years is an eternity as far as no Van albums go. Original songs- many dealing with the financial crisis of the late 2000s. At 67 he is still sounding great- another solid Van album. It went to #10 on the US album chart.
- JOHNNY CASH: AMERICAN RECORDINGS: 1994: 5 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: This morning I watched a doc called Johnny Cash vs Music Row- about the fall and rise of Johnny at American Recordings and his battles with the country music scene in Nashville. As a young kid Johnny Cash was one of the first artists that I was exposed to. In the 80’s and early 90’s The Man In Black had come upon terrible times artistically- his records weren’t selling- his long time record company Columbia did the unpardonable act of dropping him. He was without direction- country radio had forgotten him and along comes producer Rick Rubin who convinces him to sign with his label and what followed is what I think the greatest comeback in music history. After watching the doc I was in the mood to listen to the albums that Johnny made with Rubin- as much as I always liked Cash’s earlier work- my favorite Johnny Cash is those American Recordings albums- 4 were released before his passing in 2003- the fifth and sixth were released posthumously- and there is also a 5 disc box set released just after his death Unearthed- I listened to I through VI- will have to pick up with Unearthed tomorrow. Not going to review each individually but they cover the last decade of Johnny’s life and you can hear the decline in his health in his voice- he would record his final song for this great project less than two weeks before his death. A lot of these songs in the American Recordings project are well known songs but he has a way of making each song is own. Thank you Rick Rubin.
- JOHNNY CASH: AMERICAN II: UNCHAINED: 1996: 5 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS:
- JOHNNY CASH: AMERICAN III: SOLITARY MAN: 2000: 4 1/2 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS:
- JOHNNY CASH: AMERICAN IV: THE MAN COMES AROUND: 4 1/2 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS:
- JOHNNY CASH: AMERICAN V: A HUNDRED HIGHWAYS: 2006: 4 1/2 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS:
- JOHNNY CASH: AMERICAN VI: AIN’T NO GRAVE: 4 1/2 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS:
- JOHNNY CASH: BITTER TEARS: BALLADS OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN: 1964: 5 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: Cash in the 1960’s made a series of concept albums at Columbia- this one was on the American Indian. The most famous song on here is The Ballad Of Ira Hayes. The songs address the unfair treatment of the American Indian- it was a controversial album at the time. Johnny was always the champion for the underdog and the downtrodden. There was a documentary out a few years ago on PBS that I saw about this album- and an album was released of contemporary Americana type artists covering these songs- this album- and that doc and tribute album are all worth hearing and seeing.
- THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING SOUNDTRACK: 2001: 4 1/2 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS. Still reading The Fellowship of The Ring- and put on the soundtrack again as I was reading.