Johnny Cash - Johnny Cash Remixed
The Cash family stand for no nonsense and there’s always been a Mafia like closing of ranks around his legacy. The message is clear – you don’t mess with the Man in Black. So, this album of family sanctioned remixes has caught The Music Fix a little unawares. There’s a certain amount of trepidation as the packaging is carefully unwrapped, surely tampering with the work of a genuine American legend can only end in disaster or triumph?
If you just nodded in agreement then I salute your sage wisdom but, on this occasion, you and I are way off beam. It doesn’t cause any teeth gnashing or frenzied hair tearing, nor does it incite wild celebratory whooping. It is merely ok, not bad but not great either. The situation isn’t helped by opening the album with possibly the worst track, a mediocre plod through Get Rhythm which adds little more than some funky slap bass fills and a drum machine backing. The emaciated husk of Jive Bunny peers intently from his burrow, his head filled with litigious thoughts.
Thankfully things improve markedly with the swinging Count De Money remix of Big River which does the decent thing and leaves the trademark Luther Perkins guitar lines intact. This is all very well but, for most, it is going to be the treatment of the crown jewels that garners the greatest attention. Walk The Line is reserved for Snoop Dogg and he doesn’t disappoint, delivering the album’s first genuinely innovative track, which features a spectral Cash gently fading in and out of a louche Dogg rap session. Sadly Folsom Prison Blues, one of the C20th greatest recordings, fares less well under Pete Rock. The additions appear superfluous and do nothing but detract from the raw power and intensity of the original recording.
Elsewhere the Alabama 3 really step up to the plate with their version of Leave That Junk Alone and give it the Soprano’s theme-tune treatment. They may be one trick ponies but it is a damn fine trick. Port of Lonely Hearts features Johnny Cash in Jim Reeves mode and thus the Midnight Juggernauts’ gentle, ambient treatment is the perfect prescription. It is a patchy album though and for every revelation, such as the breakbeat version of Straight A’s in Love there is a howler such as the appalling Showaddywaddy pastiche of Sugartime. The Machine Drum remix of Belshazzar is worth an honourable mention though as its gothic electro dirge is the only track which one can imagine Cash having recorded himself as part of the American Recordings series.
Look, if this project succeeds in bringing Cash’s legacy to the attention of a wider audience then, job done, you won’t find me complaining but, despite the moments of genuine greatness on this remix album, I’ll always be heading straight back to the source material when I want to hear Cash at his best.