Artist: Johnny Cash
Title: American Recordings V - A Hundred Highways
Format: Single LP
Catalogue Number: B0002769-01
Year of Release: 2006
A1 Help Me (2:51)
A2 God's Gonna Cut You Down (2:38)
A3 Like The 309 (4:35)
A4 If You Could Read My Mind (4:30)
A5 Further On Up The Road (3:24)
A6 On The Evening Train (4:17)
B1 I Came To Believe (3:44)
B2 Love's Been Good To Me (3:18)
B3 A Legend In My Time (2:37)
B4 Rose Of My Heart (3:18)
B5 Four Strong Winds (4:34)
B6 I'm Free From The Chain Gang Now (3:00)
Recording for American V began as soon as American IV was finished, according to Rick Rubin's sleevenotes. They worked on the Unearthed box set at the same time, no doubt to capitalise on IV's success. I was surprised they didn't change the box set's name after he was dead and buried.
All the songs on this collection were recorded after the box set, which comprises 3 CDs of out-takes and live recordings from the first four albums, plus a CD with choice tracks from the first four American Recordings. Needless to say I didn't buy it.
Johnny did not stop writing and recording though, even after June Carter-Cash died in May 2003. Like the 309 is a new song, as is I Came to Believe. The former is a great song, looking at death full in the face and laughing. The latter is a spiritual about giving in to an undefined higher power. All the songs have sparse arrangements, allowing Cash's voice to dominate, even when it doesn't sound so great, as on 309.
His voice is stronger on God's Gonna Cut You Down, one of the better choices here, although not as strong as on the similar Man Comes Around from American IV. The Bruce Springsteen cover Further On Up The Road is the only real low point. Obscure Hank Williams number On The Evening Train one of the highs.
I think it makes a fitting end to the American Recordings series, but American VI (which I didn't know was always planned, as this 2006 USA Today news item shows) will be out later this year, for good or ill.
I found a recording of his last live performance, from July 2003, which you can download here, if you like: Download 2003-07-05 - carter's fold - final performance (a)