Home Read Classic Box Set Review: Johnny Cash | Unearthed

Classic Box Set Review: Johnny Cash | Unearthed

This posthumous five-disc set is far more than your typical greatest-hits rehash.

This came out in 2003 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):

 


DISCS: Five.

TRACKS: 78.

YEARS: 1993 — 2003.

LOWDOWN: Sure, there are dozens of box sets competing for your moolah. But really, when you get right down to it, this year there’s no contest: The posthumous Johnny Cash collection Unearthed is the hands-down winner. Completed shortly before The Man In Black’s death in September, this five-disc set is far more than your typical greatest-hits rehash. Instead, the vast majority of Unearthed — three of its five discs — consists of previously unreleased tracks from his recent career-reviving American Recordings albums with producer Rick Rubin. A fourth disc contains gospel tracks recorded last year, while the fifth cherry-picks the best tracks from the American albums. I don’t have space to go over the set track by track, but I can tell you it has everything a Cash fan would want: Country, Americana, roots, rockabilly, gospel; covers of everyone from Jimmie Rogers to Neil Young and Tom Waits; guest spots by Carl Perkins, Tom Petty, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nick Cave and much, much more. Ultimately, it’s a lot like Cash himself: Dignified. Moving. Powerful. Honest. Unassuming. Grounded. Timeless. And unforgettable. If you plan to buy one box set this season, make it Unearthed. If you don’t plan to buy any, change your plans.

NEW STUFF: 63 of these 78 tracks are previously unreleased.

EYE CANDY: The packaging — all in black, naturally — is great. The hardbound 100-page book of essays, interviews and song-by-song commentary is even better.

DAMAGE: About $95 — and worth every penny.

 

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