Nashville is cruel to its veteran performers, but they have found a way to fight back. When Johnny’s career as a recording artist seemed finished, he found a new producer, Rick Rubin, and together they have gone from strength to strength. They recorded four albums together and the last one, recorded only a few months before his death, became Johnny’s first gold album in 23 years. The recipe for success is simple - go right back to Johnny’s roots in the fifties, when his sound was simple and uncluttered, and don’t worry about the radio stations that are obsessed with listeners in their twenties and thirties. If the music strikes the right chord, those people will buy it anyway.
This was the second album Johnny and Rick recorded together and it contains many of the elements you expect from them. Tom Petty and his band provided the musical backing - and they certainly did a good job.
There are some stunning covers including Sea of heartbreak (Don Gibson), Rusty cage (Soundgarden), Memories are made of this (Dean Martin), Southern accents (Tom Petty) and I’ve been everywhere (Hank Snow). Actually, most of the songs are covers and they are all excellent.
There is a new version of Mean eyed cat, a song Johnny wrote and recorded in the fifties. In the liner notes, Johnny says that the original version was unfinished, but was released anyway, so he finally completed the song more than forty years later. Johnny also wrote Country boy and Meet me in heaven.
Johnny has a long and varied recording career behind him, but this is one album that appeals to both country fans and rock fans. It has that indefinable something that cuts across musical preconceptions. Regardless of your own musical preferences, forget your preconceptions about country music and enjoy this excellent album.