Johnny Cash Unearthed (American/Lost Highway) Rating: NnN
During each of Cash's studio sessions with Rick Rubin for the American Recordings series over the past 10 years, the Man In Black cut many more songs than required for each disc. The five-CD Unearthed set includes a best-of sampler drawn from Cash's four American releases and a stirring acoustic collection of gospel songs called My Mother's Hymn Book. There are three discs of session outtakes, mostly covers (including He Stopped Loving Her Today, Gentle On My Mind, Witchita Lineman and Neil Young's Pochahontas) and stripped-down revisions of previously released songs. The good news is that many of the songs seem to have been recorded before The Man Comes Around sessions, so Cash's voice is still commanding, although he does sound shaky whenever trying uptempo rockers. Nothing here really improves on his American discs. The bottom line is that most of these songs are leftovers for a reason.