Monday, 23 December 2002

Joe Strummer RIP

Joe Strummer died yesterday as the result of a heart attack. He was 50.

While I've always thought The Clash's place in the pantheon of rock was a little overstated there's no denying the importance that Strummer's work has to many and his death marks the passing of a true icon.

Link to the Guardian's obituary

Sunday, 22 December 2002

The best albums of 2002

25. Weezer – Maladroit
Shabbily produced and annoyingly upbeat but Rivers Cuomo is still the best pop punk songwriter of his generation.

Best track – Keep Fishin'

24. N*E*R*D* – In Search Of…
A monumental collision of hip hop, funk, rock and pop that's only a little short of some of The Neptunes' best work.

Best track – Bobby James

23. Brendan Benson – Lapalco
Winningly geeksome lyrics and 80s power pop delivered with absolutely adorable charm.

Best track - Metarie

22. Boards Of Canada – Geogaddi
Pushes the boundaries of electronica rather than breaking new ground but it's still absolutely exceptional.

Best track – Sunshine Recorder

21. The Mountain Goats – All Hail West Texas
Demands a deal of patience but it's John Darnielle's most forceful, complex and rewarding album.

Best track – The Best Ever Death Metal Band In Denton

20. Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Sophisticated, provocative, catchy and serene. Not quite the masterpiece that many seem to think it is, but not far short.

Best track – I Am Trying To Break Your Heart

19. Hot Hot Heat – Make Up The Breakdown
Despite the obvious new wave influences, Make Up The Breakdown is impeccably cool and, thanks to the unusual song structures, actually pretty unique.

Best track - Bandages

18. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Yanqui U.X.O.
Subtle, restrained and painstakingly detailed, Yanqui U.X.O. lacks the force of its predecessors but it's still wonderful.

Best track - Rockets Fall On Rocket Falls

17. Beck – Sea Change
Harrowing, lonely and beautiful. Hard to believe this is the same Beck who made Odelay only six years ago.

Best track – Guess I'm Doing Fine

16. Jesse Malin – The Fine Art Of Self Destruction
The first solo album from a major talent. Malin is destined for greatness.

Best track - Brooklyn

15. Coldplay – A Rush Of Blood To The Head
Yeah, your mum likes it but this is a majestic and glorious album.

Best track - Clocks

14. Mr Lif – I Phantom
A deliberately over-the-top grand opus that very few artists - never mind rappers – could pull off with this level of wit and dexterity.

Best track – New Man Theme

13. Adam Green – Adam Green
It seems like Green has left the super cool stomping songs about crack in his Moldy Peaches past. His solo debut is a smart, funny and sweet acoustic gem.

Best track – Mozzarella Swastika

12. Tom Waits – Alice
Heartbreakingly delicate and certainly the more beautiful of the two albums Tom Waits released this year.

Best track - Alice

11. Tom Waits – Blood Money
That Waits is able to transform this deeply cynical, miserable and bleak into a work of great humour and romance is testament to his unmatched talent as a songwriter.

Best track – Misery Is The River Of The World

10. El-P – Fantastic Damage
Fantastic Damage never quite lives up to its Funcrusher Plus / Cold Vein heritage but it's still a remarkable sprawling opus of anger and angst.

Best track – Tuned Mass Damper

9. And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – Source Tags & Codes
Blistering, blissful and dangerous. An album of immense weight that it perpetually sounds like it's about to implode. That it never does is testament to the band's incredible skill.

Best track – Relative Ways

8. The Libertines – Up The Bracket
Shambling and, at times, moronic, Up The Bracket regurgitates more than it innovates but you sense Carl Barat and Pete Doherty have made an album that will, quite rightly, become a landmark piece of British rock.

Best track – I Get Along

7. Queens Of The Stone Age – Songs For The Deaf
Quite genuinely one of the most powerful and thrilling rock albums ever made.

Best track – No One Knows

6. Bright Eyes – Lifted Or The Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground
A bleak, bold journey through Conor Oberst's ambitious and active 22-year-old mind reveals more naked emotion than any other album this year.

Best track - Let's Not Shit Ourselves (To Love and to Be Loved)

5. Johnny Cash - American IV: The Man Comes Around
A consistently thrilling album that proves, even at 70, Johnny Cash is at the height of his powers.

Best track - Hurt

4. The Streets – Original Pirate Material
Not hip hop, not garage, not pop. It's hard to know exactly what it is and that's exactly what makes it a bona fide classic.

Best track – Don't Mug Yourself

3. Edan – Primitive Plus
A wild and weird masterpiece from maverick Boston suburbanite Edan Portnoy that lampoons rap stereotypes and attitudes while honouring the golden age of hip hop.

Best track – Run That Shit!

2. Interpol – Turn On The Bright Lights
Interpol's much anticipated debut was a dark and brooding rollercoaster. At times it veers a little too close to a Joy Division homage but this is just as great a debut as Is This It was.

Best track - Roland

1. The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots
Astoundingly, The Flaming Lips have made an album that can proudly stand shoulder-to-shoulder with The Soft Bulletin. It almost defies belief that they've made another album that defiantly charges into uncharted musical territories and is abnormally alive with possibilities. An album that's bewildering and staggering. The year's and quite possibly the decade's best.

Best track – Do You Realise?

Thursday, 19 December 2002

Album Review: One By One

The stories leading to the extended gestation period for this LP have made it the most eagerly awaited Foo Fighters release to date. Taylor Hawkins' brush with mortality and Dave Grohl's sojourns with Tenacious D and the Queens Of The Stone Age seem to have reawoken the Foo Fighters. Grohl has always known his way around a decent riff, but one has wondered whether or not he had it in him to make a truly rocking LP. One By One tells us that the answer is a defiant "YES!".

Straight from the blocks the album attempts to blow the listeners eardrums apart. The album's opener and first single All My Life is a genuinely great rock record and possibly the Foo Fighters best single to date. Low rattles along at such a pace, it is clear that the band have rediscovered the focus that seemed to be missing on their previous LP There's Nothing Left To Lose. Every note seems to matter, and on Low and the following track, Have It All this urgency and focus becomes clear.

Grohl also proves that his skills in writing ballads has improved too. Tired Of You is the most haunting song Grohl has yet to write. Grohl whispers over a stark guitar line (from Brian May of Queen no less), "Is this just desire or the truth?". It's certainly one of Grohl's finest moments as a songwriter, and a worthy centre point for the album.

The only criticism of the album might be the quality control. Halo limps along without actually doing anything and 'Lonely As You' is fairly average. However, two mediocre tracks from eleven isn't a bad hit rate.

What One By One proves once and for all is that the Foo Fighters are a great band. It shows two fingers to the critics who have suggested that the only reason for their success is Dave Grohl's iconic status in rock music. The newly-rejuvenated Grohl puts it best on the recent single Times Like These when he affirms us, "It's times like these you learn to live again." A spectacular return to form.

Sunday, 8 December 2002

Wonderful LP covers

Incredible collection of hilarious and beautiful obscure LP covers.


Thursday, 28 November 2002

Game Review: Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4

The Tony Hawk's series has been accused of running out of steam. While the third version was excellent, it offered little that the second title didn't. Neversoft has obviously sought to change things with this version, but despite this, the game is very similar to the last one. One change (albeit purely cosmetic) is that there's something very English about THPS4. From the inclusion of a London level to the presence of The Sex Pistols on the soundtrack, THPS4 has obviously been, at least in part, tailored for us Brits.

In terms of presentation it remains almost identical to the previous three iterations. Fourteen pro skaters are included (Jackass star Bam Margera is once again involved) as well as the now-mandatory create-a-skater facility. Nine levels are included in all (seven regular plus two secret ones) which vary from a shipyard to a zoo. The selection of one and two player modes remains the same as THPS3, however, THPS4 includes the option for online play for up to eight players. Interestingly, the graphics are still a little below what may be expected from a PS2 game, but nonetheless they remain capable. The soundtrack, however, is simply awesome. The Sex Pistols, Aesop Rock, NWA, Iron Maiden and Run DMC all make an appearance giving the game unquestionably the best soundtrack ever.

The only major difference is the removal of time limits on each level. The levels are much, much larger now, and the player is given the freedom to skate around to their heart's content. Now, the player has to approach any citizens standing around to begin a quest. There are now sixteen challenges on each level, which is somewhat higher than the amount found on the previous game. This may involve the by now standard collection of 'S,K,A,T,E' or something more novel like helping a prisoner tunnel out of Alcatraz. There is a definite emphasis on fun in this game, as many of the games available have no bearing on the player's progress (playing tennis or betting on two prostitutes having a fight).

Other additions include the ability to 'skitch', that is to hold on to the back of a moving vehicle (or elephant) to earn extra points. New pogoing tricks are available to the more advanced player as well. Finally, the player can now transfer over the spines of pipes to rack up even longer combinations. Each of these functions has been included to help the player produce longer combinations and therefore gain larger scores. The new mission structure enables these new skills to be introduced gradually, but THSP experts should have no problem picking up the new abilities.

For me, the removal of the time limit makes this iteration of THPS a slightly poor relation to the third version. The appeal of the Tony Hawk's series for me has always been attempting to rack up 500,000 point plus combos. THPS4's reliance on comedy somewhat removes the emphasis from gaining huge scores. While not the best, it is undoubtedly the most varied version of the franchise, and fans of the series should consider this an essential purchase.

Saturday, 23 November 2002

Bill Wyman sues Bill Wyman

San Francisco music critic Bill Wyman has won the legal case against former Rolling Stone Bill Wyman that allows him to continue to use his name without a disclaimer.

"In October, after 41 years of using his birth name without incident, the film and music editor for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution learned that his employer had received a cease-and-desist from the attorney for Bill Wyman, former bassist for the Rolling Stones.

Journalist Bill Wyman was asked to cease and desist being Bill Wyman, "if indeed, (his) given legal name is Bill Wyman (a fact which we would insist be reasonably demonstrated to us)," according to the letter the paper received from attorney Howard Siegel of New York."

The really funny thing? The Rolling Stone was born William George Perks and changed his name to Bill Wyman two years after the journalist was born.


Monday, 11 November 2002

Album Review: Soundbombing Volume 1

Released in 1999, Soundbombing 1 was the first official mix CD from the then fledgling Rawkus label. Listening to the first Soundbombing today comes in stark contrast to the extremely polished, but slightly bland third in the series. Where the most recent release is bloated by some big name stars putting in mediocre performances, this collection is a tight mix of hungry, focused rappers, scratchy, intense production and some highly capable mixing from Evil D.

The standout tracks are those involving perhaps the greatest but most short-lived hip hop collective ever, Company Flow. Lune TNS and Fire In Which You Burn (credited to the Indelible MCs) both find their way onto this mix, and once again remind listeners how much of a shame it is that they split so prematurely. Elsewhere RA The Rugged Man is his usual uncompromising self on Flipside and Till My Heart Stops.

In contrast to the rough and obdurate work of Company Flow and The Rugged Man, Rawkus stalwart Mos Def lends his silky flow to proceedings. His classic cut If You Can Huh remains one of the strongest works in the Rawkus annals and is found towards the end of this mix. Fans of the most underrated man in hip hop will also enjoy his freestyle with Talib Kweli which links sides A and B.

Other impressive moments include the snapping drum and thumping subterranean bass line that backs Empire Staters by B-One, Kool Keith’s familiarly obtuse rambling on So Intelligent and the melodious whistling that accompanies L-Fudge’s Show Me Your Gratitude.

While the mixing for the most part is stylish and unobtrusive, the biggest criticism one can level at this mix is Evil D's insistence on shouting his name every couple of seconds. This reviewer realises that every DJ puts his name on some tracks during a mix; but Evil D pushes the listener's tolerance to the limit, by taking every opportunity to remind the listener that, "Evil D is on the mix" or that "Evil D is in the area." It's more annoying than it sounds. However the quality of the tracks on offer is such that this minor fault does not detract too much from the music.

Overall this is a very worthy purchase for any fans of intelligent hip hop and a worthy reminder of how imperial Rawkus was until the lure of major label dollars became too strong to resist; but if you only ever buy one Soundbombing collection, make it the second one.

Monday, 4 November 2002

Album Review: The Man Comes Around

After more than five decades of making tremendous music that made listeners angry, enchanted and touched in equal measure, it would turn out that The Man Comes Around would be Johnny Cash's swansong. For his final studio album, Cash (alongside producer Rick Rubin) presents a collection of simply overwhelming passion and beauty.

His final album begins with the finest track Cash had written for twenty years. The Man Comes Around is an epic tale of the apocalypse, interpreting the Book of Revelations with uplifting exuberance. Restraint, resignation and a desire for peace pervade the prophetic imagery. The Man Comes Around is truly beautiful and furious in equal measure.

Later he exhumes ancient standards like Danny Boy and Streets of Laredo and allows them to harness a new elegance. Cash even delves into his own bag and rearranges the dark humour of Sam Hall as well as adjusting the already beautiful Give My Love To Rose. Elsewhere, The Beatles' In My Life becomes breathtakingly poignant. How could it not be when sung by a man with such a wealth of experience (especially when one bears in mind how young both Lennon and McCartney were when they wrote it)? The song becomes everything it should be when it falls into Cash's world-weary hands - touching the heart and soul with every hint of its deeper meaning.

It is a tribute to Cash's immense talent that he takes a song as hoary as Bridge Over Troubled Water and totally reanimates it. Simon and Garfunkel's masterpiece has been played so many times the listener has become utterly numb any impact it once had. Cash, with his weathered, frayed voice makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. At 72 years of age, few, if any could match the emotional power Cash could generate.

At times the track selection may seem odd but Cash is always up to the task at hand. He captures I Hung My Head, leaving the listener in no doubt that the song was always more Cash's than it was Sting's. Then along with Nick Cave, he does justice to Hank Williams' I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry. The slithering blues groove of Depeche Mode's Personal Jesus is another unexpected highlight. On these tracks Cash taps into the essence of each song and truly makes them his own.

However, it will be his staggering rendition of Nine Inch Nails' Hurt that ensures this album's prominence. Where Reznor's original was a troubled paean to drug addiction, Cash infuses the track with genuine heart to accompany the bitterness. Cash treats the song with such honesty that adds to what was an already powerful mantra in Reznor's hands. Frankly it's the only song of the last decade to move me into an awed silence every single time I hear it.

Perhaps fittingly the album comes to an end with the sentimental classic We'll Meet Again. It closes with the prophetic line, "We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when / but I know we'll meet again some sunny day." Rest In Peace Johnny. You'll be greatly missed.

Friday, 1 November 2002

Jam-Master Jay murdered

Jam-Master Jay was shot dead yesterday in a New York recording studio. He was 37.

Jay (real name Jason Mizell) was a pioneer of turntablism and was the driving force behind the genre-bending sound of Run-DMC.

Perhaps more than any other hip hop group, Jay, as part of Run-DMC, helped to bring the genre to the masses. His impact on hip hop truly can't be overstated.

I'm going to listen to Raising Hell very loud now and wish bad things upon the motherfucker that killed him.

Link to the Independent's obituary

Tuesday, 29 October 2002

Game Review: Pro Evolution Soccer 2

The International Superstars Soccer series (which has since become the Pro Evolution Soccer series) has always been the football purist’s choice. While it’s chief rival FIFA allowed the player to attempt wild overhead kicks from the halfway line and dribble from goalmouth to goalmouth with the goalkeeper, ISS has always been a more realistic alternative. While Electronic Arts have always held the relevant licenses to use correct player names and club sponsors, Konami has had to convince players that it isn’t what the game looks like but how it plays that is important. Finally with PES2, they have succeeded.

Frankly PES2 is sublime. The game is so supremely balanced as to make any other football game redundant. The advantage that speed held over skill has now been adjusted correctly so that it is now the Zidanes of the game who flourish and the Babangidas who prove less useful. Long-passes are now much more useful than before. Masters of the rangy pass such as Beckham or Veron will now be able to loft balls over defences when before they would’ve fallen annoyingly short. On top of these new touches the animation has also been improved. Players now fall more dramatically and in different ways. For example, a tug of the shirt will result in a different reaction than a two-footed leg breaker. Of course, these cosmetic changes do little to alter the game but do create a more realistic experience.

In one-player the game is good. However, the CPU becomes a little too infallible at the five-star setting for my taste. That isn’t to say that they are unbeatable, because they are, but as (notoriously weak headerer) Thierry Henry wins his three-hundredth consecutive header from a typically aimless Frank Leboeuf long ball, things do get a little trying. Add a second pad though (or more) and things become amazing. Everyone will have a nation (or indeed club) that suits them. For example, those after a lightning-quick side, but one that does not emphasise defence at all will favour Brazil; Italy or Argentina will be for those who look for a more patient build-up.

There is still an issue with the lack of the license. Manchester United are renamed Aragon and all the Dutch players are called Oranges. While the supposed hardcore fans will claim it doesn’t matter, it does and it's annoying. It doesn’t take an age to rename everybody, but it remains a chore. However the game plays so well that these may be seen as minor problems. The team and player names can easily be altered with the comprehensive edit mode, as can David Beckham’s now redundant Mohican haircut.

The chief criticism of PES2, besides the missing license, is that players still slow down inexplicably after losing the ball. Admittedly it is not as drastic as it was in the previous game but it is still annoying nonetheless. Also, the rate at which supposedly simple passes are miss-hit continues to grate. However, these flaws also serve to make multiplayer encounters more dramatic. The fact that the digitised players are as fallible as the real thing makes the matches (especially multiplayer affairs) more tense.

PES2 remains light-years ahead of FIFA, despite EA making an improved showing with their latest iteration. However, whether PES2 is the best football game ever will take some deliberation. Sensible Soccer still holds a place in my heart, but I think Konami’s effort might just nick its place at the top of the podium. This is an essential purchase for football fans, and if you don’t own a Playstation 2, well then you should head out and buy one just to play it.

Sunday, 22 September 2002

Album Review: The Swarm

Released in 1998, The Swarm was the first in the series (having been followed by the equally uninspired The Sting) of Wu Tang Killa Bees albums. Two albums and five years later and I've still yet to understand what purpose these dire Killa Bees albums serve.

The album begins with one of its highlights, a film sample taken from The Swarm starring Michael Caine. I actually quite enjoy the film snippets that now-traditionally begin Wu Tang albums, and hearing Michael Caine's distinctive voice make it all the more enjoyable. However, when Michael Caine is providing the most enjoyable part of a hip hop album you know something's amiss.

Along with Caine, Ghostface Killah brings an exciting voice to this album. His track Cobra Clutch is one of the best efforts on the album. Make no mistake though, that does not make it a classic hip hop track, merely one of the best of an awful bunch. The Mathematics production is dull and in fact, the repetitive sample is pretty annoying, but Ghostface is as verbally dextrous as ever and manages to take the track from mediocrity to something slightly better.

Despite Ghostface's displaying his significant talents, the rest of the MCs obviously haven't paid attention. From the opener The Legacy by AIG to Concrete Jungle by Sunz of Man to the last track Fatal Sting by Black Knights of the North Star, every rap is poor. To be fair though, it isn't the lower-tier bees that aren't up to scratch; Rza, Raekwon, Masta Killa and Method Man all deliver substandard verses.

The production on the whole is marginally better than the words, but not by much. And Justice For All is a passable piece of Rza production, but certainly no better than passable. However, the combination of Killa Army and Method Man can't rap well enough on this track to propel it above mediocrity. The somewhat preposterous chorus of, "We never fall / like skyscrapers we stand tall / and justice for all" simply runs home how below par this release is. The only other semi-decent piece of production is found on Bastards by the Ruthless Bastards. The sinister piano sample is reminiscent of Mobb Deep's excellent The Infamous LP.

The one entirely quality track is 97 Mentality by Cappadonna. The Rza produces it and while it is nowhere near his most exciting production it is head and shoulders above everything else on this album. Cappadonna, to his credit delivers some of his best rhymes; certainly up to this release he had nothing as good as this track to show for himself.

One decent and three average tracks from sixteen is a damning indictment and when the best track on a Wu album is from Cappadonna, you know something is seriously wrong. I guess that it is quite admirable that the Wu Tang Clan are using their fame to bring their less established friends to the fore - but, frankly they should be ashamed to put the Wu Tang brand on it.

Saturday, 21 September 2002

Album Review: Solitary Man

In 2000, Johnny Cash’s health had weakened considerably, but this release confirmed that his creative powers were still very much intact. Solitary Man ranks among the finest moments in a recording career that lasted for over half a century.

Solitary Man begins on a defiant note with Tom Petty’s I Won’t Back Down. Certainly the presence of Petty’s backing vocals and organ playing should be noted, but Cash gracefully appropriates the song, adding a measure of gravitas that was absent from the original. The track is given an impact and poignancy that help transcend the original’s pop leanings.

Cash’s ability to allow the listener to identify with a song was never greater than on this album, but some credit for that must go to Rick Rubin for his trademark under-production. Paring down the instrumentation and arrangements allows the listener to more easily identify with the sentiments being expressed by Cash’s words – whether they are his own or not. Never is this more obvious than on his remarkable re-casting of Nick Cave’s death row narrative The Mercy Seat. Cash replaces Cave’s hysterics with a more conversational delivery. The original frantic Bad Seeds instrumentation is reduced to a hovering organ and a swirling piano melody. Despite the comparatively minimalist approach, the result is no less powerful.

Elsewhere, the title track, a version of Neil Diamond’s 1966 hit, and the soulful cover of U2’s melancholy stadium-ballad One offer further evidence that Cash has an uncanny talent for transforming the works of others. However, it is his interpretation of Bonny Prince Billy’s (Will Oldham) I See A Darkness that stands out. If nothing else, the stark contrast between Cash’s gnarled voice and Oldham’s youthful tone is heartbreaking. When Cash quavers, “There’s a hope that somehow you can save me from this darkness”, all but the callous eyes will be welling up.

However, not all the covers on Solitary Man are borrowed from recent and current artists. Cash’s versatility (in addition to his musical heritage) is once again highlighted, as he resurrects the self-mocking Nobody, a one-hundred-year-old vaudeville tune written by Egbert Williams. Cash also revisits the old treasures That Lucky Old Sun (Just Rolls Around Heaven All Day) and Mary Of The Wild Moor, upon which Sheryl Crow contributes.

Cash’s own compositions are no less compelling that the cover versions however. Rather the show signs of weakness so late in his career (like so many of his contemporaries), Cash’s song writing is as sharp as ever. Before My Time is a touching love song as well as a humbling consideration of his own place in history. Similarly tender is Field Of Diamonds. While it was originally recorded in 1986 with Waylon Jennings, this new version is enhanced by the backing duet of June Carter Cash and Sheryl Crow.

Cash’s version of the old spiritual Wayfaring Stranger is perhaps the most poignant track on the CD. As Cash lists the family members with whom he will be reunited with in death you can’t help but think that this is a sublime closer to not only an album but to a career. Tragically, his career would only last three more years, but Solitary Man is a wonderful reminder that whether the subject was love, God or murder, Cash was the finest storyteller of them all.

Friday, 20 September 2002

Album Review: Unchained

Unchained is the second in the series of Johnny Cash’s American Recordings. On the first album, Cash stuck to fairly traditional fare, performing a set of mostly his own material, and a couple of tracks by his contemporaries like Loudon Wainwright III, Kris Kristofferson and Leonard Cohen. Here Cash’s (and we can only assume producer Rick Rubin’s) choices are far more eclectic. The set list contains works by the likes of Soundgarden, Beck and Tom Petty. Guest spots by artists as diverse as Mick Fleetwood, The Heartbreakers and the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea also make this LP more of an assortment than the first offering.

Like its predecessor, Unchained is characterised by Cash’s peerless ability to make each song that he tackles his own. Cash’s own life story and experience add gravity and pathos to lines that seemed almost throwaway when sung by the original artists. This is most poignant, when Cash sings, “Give me some alcohol” on Beck's Rowboat, and later when he brings equal helpings of spirituality and savoir-faire to Soundgarden’s Rusty Cage.

It isn’t just more contemporary songs that Cash performs on Unchained though. He takes Dean Martin’s corny-as-hell Memories Are Made Of This and adds a depth that even Martin couldn’t manage. Later he performs an exquisite version of Tom Petty’s South Accents. On Jimmie Rodgers’ The One Rose (That’s Left In My Heart) and The Kneeling Drunkard’s Plea’ (originally performed by The Louvin Brothers but written by June, Helen and Anita Carter) things really snap into place between Cash and The Heartbreakers making these two of the stand out tracks.

Two re-works of Cash’s own songs are also highlights. Meet Me In Heaven, which was originally written for June Carter Cash takes on greater significance now that both she and Cash have passed away. Cash estimates that it took him forty years to write ‘Mean Eyed Cat’. In the liner notes he remarks that any version heard until now cannot be viewed as the finished article, “finally, after 41 years, I’m satisfied with ‘Mean Eyed Cat’” notes Cash.

At the conclusion of the album lies Hank Snow’s tongue-twisting road-dog song, I’ve Been Everywhere. As Cash powers into the chorus, you could sense that he wasn’t done racking up the miles. Sadly, he didn’t have as many left as we all would’ve liked.