Album review: Johnny Cash - Out Among The Stars

American country music singer and songwriter Johnny Cash, pictured in 1979. Picture: Getty

American country music singer and songwriter Johnny Cash, pictured in 1979. Picture: Getty

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NEWS of a lost Johnny Cash album being released in its entirety has caused excitement among country fans and devotees of the Man in Black.

Johnny Cash

Out Among The Stars

Legacy Recordings, £14.99

Star rating: * * * *

Discovered by Cash’s son John Carter in 2012, the recordings which make up Out Among The Stars were first made in the early 1980s by Cash and producer Billy Sherrill. The fact that these songs were vetoed by Cash’s label following the release of the Sherrill-produced critical and commercial bomb The Baron doesn’t suggest we’re in for a treat.

Indeed, those who have grown used to Cash as the mature elder statesman who growled out Rick Rubin-produced marquee covers of U2 and Nine Inch Nails on the largely posthumous American Recordings series might be disappointed by the unashamedly trad selection here. Yet the modernising of Cash’s muse is carried out in less obvious ways, with new sessions recorded to bolster the sound quality while remaining faithful to the original. The join is pretty much seamless, with only perhaps the child choir of Tennessee sounding forced.

Otherwise it’s largely redolent of classic Cash, beginning at “midnight at a liquor store in Texas” on the title track, a bittersweet hymnal, and featuring Cash’s wife June Carter amid the galloping bluegrass of Baby Ride Easy and the rustic romance of Don’t You Think It’s Come Our Time, both poignant reminders of their partnership. The mood is measured and reflective through She Used To Love Me A Lot and the sarcastic break-up ballad Call Your Mother, with helpings of humour in the record of an assignation with a country star If I Told You Who It Was. For old-time Cash fans, it’s highly recommended.

David Pollock

Download: She Used To Love Me A Lot, Don’t You Think It’s Come Our Time

POP

Free Nelson Mandoomjazz

The Shape Of Doomjazz To Come + Saxophone Giganticus

Star rating: * * *

Rarenoise, £10.99

As that name might suggest, the Edinburgh trio (right) are one of the more irreverent groups to have emerged from the Scottish scene lately, with a smart but often aggressive sound which fuses the best aspects of free jazz and grungy, lo-fi rock. This album-length collection of their first two EPs fluctuates through strongly wrought if slightly samey moods and styles, fusing Rebecca Sneddon’s stabbing, sensual saxophone and the raw rhythm section of Colin Stewart and Paul Archibald amid the opening Where My Soul Can Be Free, and straying into epic territory through Saxophonus Giganticus. David Pollock

Download: Nobody F***ing Posts To The UAE

Shit Robot

We Got A Love

Star rating: * * * * *

Dfa Records/Pias, £15.99

Raised in Dublin and based as an adult in New York and Berlin, Marcus Lambkin here releases his second album following the 2010 debut From The Cradle To The Rave. It’s also his second full-length release on New York’s DFA Records, co-founded by James Murphy of the late LCD Soundsystem. Guest-starring hipster heroes such as LCD’s Nancy Whang and the Rapture’s Luke Jenner, it tours through a deep acid house groove on The Secret, Moroder-style electro on Space Race, and soulful house on Feels Like. At once retro and modern, it’s already a contender for dance album of the year. David Pollock

Download: The Secret, Feels Real

JAZZ

Warren Vache & Alan Barnes

The Cobbler’s Waltz

Star rating: * * * *

Woodville Records WVCD 140, £13.99

If ever there were two musicians whose delight in each other’s playing is infectious, it’s the duo of American cornettist Warren Vache and British clarinettist/saxophonist Alan Barnes. Old friends and occasional colleagues, this pair clearly relish opportunities for collaborating – and that shines through on this CD, even before you read Vache’s lively liner notes. More laid-back than their last outing on Woodville, this quintet recording (with John Pearce, Dave Green and Steve Brown) features an inspired mix of off-the-beaten-track tunes as well as a couple of insanely catchy original numbers by Vache. Alison Kerr

Download: The Cobbler’s Waltz

FOLK

Jaquelyn Hynes

Silver and Wood

Star rating: * * * *

Hobgoblin Records HOBCD1015, £13.99

A London actress whose family are from County Clare, Jaquelyn Hynes plays a handful of instruments, but this album focuses on her favourite – the flute, in both its silver and wood incarnations. If the latter is generally used in traditional Irish music, and the former in pop, jazz and classical, Hynes sits somewhere in the middle, playing a cross-section of well-known airs like Greensleeves or Her Mantle So Green, and joining a male voice in She Moved Through The Fair. Elsewhere, on flute and with guest musicians, she leads bunches of reels, and jigs, then pianistically accompanies her pal Allison Sleator, whose beautiful Irish singing leaps out in the Connemara song Do In D. Norman Chalmers

Download: The Rookery/Tommy Mulhaires

CLASSICAL

Johannes Brahms, Clara Schumann

Symphonies Nos 2 and 4, Songs

Star rating: * * * * *

Telarc 34658-02, £15.99

The (we believe) unconsummated relationship between Johannes Brahms and Clara Schumann, wife then widow of Brahms’ close friend and supporter Robert Schumann, is one of the great “What ifs?” of music. Had Brahms married Clara after Robert’s death, would his creativity have been heightened or diminished? For Brahms is the emotionally tortured and tantalised composer without peer. As it was, they never married but remained close throughout a 40-year relationship (Brahms died a year after her). This twin-CD recording by John Axelrod seeks to get underneath the skin of both Brahms and Clara Schumann, interspersing his Second and Fourth Symphonies (written when Brahms was already deeply involved with Clara) with her songs, the latter strongly sung by Nicole Cabell and Indra Thomas. This deeply felt performance of an equally deeply felt love deserves a hearing. Alexander Bryce

Download: Schumann: Liebst Du Um Schönheit

INTRODUCING: MIRACLE STRIP

The 1980s are back, and synth pop and retro aesthetics seem to have gripped the entire music industry. It could be ironic, a statement on the current government’s own icons, or just a chance to experiment more with quiffs. Either way, it’s producing some cracking tunes and fun bands.

Glasgow’s Miracle Strip, who feature Scotsman music critic Malcolm Jack, experiment playfully with new wave and Magnetic Fields-esque pop. Think Simple Minds fronted by Yoni Wolf recorded on eight-track.

Miracle Strip’s single Girl Gang is out now on 7in at miraclestrip.bandcamp.com. You can see them live at The Roxy 171 in Glasgow on 4 April and at the Electric Circus in Edinburgh on 20 April.

Hamish Gibson

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