By Randy Lewis
1:16 PM EST, December 10, 2013
A long-ago shelved album that Johnny Cash recorded in the early 1980s while still at Columbia Records will be released on March 25 after being rediscovered by his son, John Carter Cash.
The only child of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash came across the tapes while organizing their archives in Hendersonville, Tenn. The album includes a dozen songs, including duets with Cash and his wife and with longtime friend Waylon Jennings. The record is titled “Out Among the Stars.”
"When my parents passed away, it became necessary to go through this material," John Carter Cash said in a statement. "We found these recordings that were produced by Billy Sherrill in the early 1980s … they were beautiful."
The early '80s were a difficult period for Cash. He’d lost much of the momentum he’d built a decade earlier hosting his ABC-TV show, and country music had moved into the “Urban Cowboy” phase of pop-leaning crossover material.
Cash recorded the tracks that appear on “Out Among the Stars” in 1981 and 1984, toward the end of his long career at Columbia. Sherrill, the architect of what came to be known as the “countrypolitan” sound favored by Nashville in the late 1960s and early 1970s, was in charge of artist development at the time for Columbia, which dropped Cash in 1986.
Among the songs recorded for this album are his duet with June Carter Cash, “Baby Ride Easy,” a song her daughter, Carlene Carter, had released as a single in 1980, and the Hank Snow country classic “I’m Movin’ On,” Cash’s vocal collaboration with Jennings.
Musicians backing him included Marty Stuart, guitarist Jerry Kennedy, steel guitar hero Pete Drake, veteran Nashville pianist Hargus "Pig" Robbins and bassist Henry Strzelecki.
To prepare the three-decade-old tracks for release, John Carter Cash was assisted by coproducer and archivist Steve Berkowitz, and they enlisted Marty Stuart, Buddy Miller and Carlene Carter, as well as others, to work on the album at the Cash Cabin Studios in Hendersonville. The album is available for preorder at Amazon.com.
Follow Randy Lewis on Twitter: @RandyLewis2
Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times