In the last decade of a career that spanned half a century, Johnny Cash capped off his musical legend with a breathtaking final act, recording a series of raw, stripped-down albums with producer Rick Rubin. Those albums reestablished Cash as a vital artist, while adding a remarkable closing chapter to his incredible body of work.
In November 2003, two months after Cash’s passing, Rubin’s label American Recordings released Unearthed, an expansive box set of material, most of it previously unreleased, recorded during the artist’s graceful twilight years. The set was originally planned to celebrate Cash and Rubin’s decade of recording together, and the final mixes had been sent to Cash, but he passed away before receiving them. The recordings, which run the stylistic gamut from stark balladry to punchy rockabilly to heartfelt gospel to classic covers, offer a stunning encapsulation of Cash’s wide-ranging musical vision, and provide a fitting epitaph for his iconic career.
To celebrate the Man in Black’s enduring and influential legacy, American Recordings and UMe have reconfigured this monolithic collection for its first-ever vinyl release, spreading Unearthed’s 79 songs over nine high-quality 180-gram vinyl LPs while expanding the original box’s distinctive packaging for the long-playing format.
Available November 3, the Unearthed vinyl box features a pair of cloth-bound books housed in an LP-sized black cloth slipcase. One book holds the nine LPs, while the other is a gorgeous 60-page coffee table book that incorporates Sylvie Simmons’ extensive liner notes, drawn from five days of interviews at Cash’s home in Tennessee, as well as Cash and Rubin’s comments on every song on the set, plus a copious selection of photographs from the recording sessions, including some of the last photos ever taken of Cash. Preorder Unearthed now: https://UMe.lnk.to/JohnnyCashUnearthed
Unearthed is divided into five thematic sections. Who’s Gonna Cry focuses on acoustic solo recordings, and finds Cash revisiting several classic songs from his legendary catalog. Trouble In Mind is oriented towards electric performances, and includes guest appearances by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Carl Perkins and members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, as well as Cash’s wife and longtime duet partner June Carter Cash. Redemption Songs is largely acoustic, and features duets with Joe Strummer, Fiona Apple, Nick Cave and Glen Campbell. My Mother’s Hymn Book demonstrates Cash’s lifelong affinity for gospel music, encompassing 15 time-honored gospel standards. Best of Cash On American offers a memorable 15-song selection of highlights from Cash’s first four albums with Rubin.
Indeed, in the years since Cash’s passing, the artist’s legend has grown and his music has gained in power. It’s hard to think of a more appropriate and impressive sendoff for this one-of-a-kind American original than the massive musical statement that is Unearthed.