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Johnny Cash Remixed

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Johnny Cash earned his legendary status with his music and his life. In a career that stretches from the dawn of commercial country and pop music to the dawn of the 21st century, he made his rep as an artist of uncommon integrity. Too bad the same can't be said for his record labels. Even before he passed, his music was subjected to a massive repackaging and reissue program, and Johnny Cash Remixed continues the trend, with the expected unfortunate results. Who knows what Cash thought about hip-hop, but it's hard to believe he would have enjoyed this bastardization of his work. The collection was produced by John Carter Cash and Snoop Dogg, and while it has its amusing moments, the original Sun Recordings Cash made in the 50s will still sound timeless long after the junk on this album has faded from memory. "I Walk the Line" gets smothered by Snoop Dogg's big, bass heavy production; "Get Rhythm" is transformed into an electro-funk track with the original track broken into snippets and sprinkled onto the pounding backbeats; "Doin' My Time" sounds like a soul band cover with Cash making a brief "appearance" near the end of the track; Alabama 3, the guys who recorded the song that became the theme for The Sopranos use a snippet of "Leave That Junk Alone" but reinvent the track as their own. Machine Drum's "Belshazzar" remix leeches all the drama out of the song, and Apparat's take on "I Heard That Lonesome Whistle Blow" also tries to make a desolate song more desolate by adding industrial sound effects, but the effort is wasted. On the positive tip, as the kids would say, there's Count de Money's remix of "Big River," which adds a few dub effects and an electric guitar solo that isn't bad, but is unnecessary. Sonny J's "Country Boy" breaks up Cash's solo and makes it sound like a rap, complemented by gospel-esque female vocals, while on "Folsom Prison Blues," Pete Rock adds slide guitar (probably from Carter Cash) and a thumping club beat, but the song remains fairly intact. Troublemaker gives "Straight A's in Love" a digital mashup that's not too bad, and Wolf drops some thumping electroclash beats into "Rock Island Line" to add a bit of frenetic energy to the track, but again, why bother? Maybe this album will introduce Cash to a generation of listeners who might not otherwise discover him, but his original music is powerful enough to win them over. He doesn't need studio tricks to make his music sound timeless. [The CD was also released with bonus tracks.] ~ j. poet