Album Review: “Johnny Cash Remixed” by Various Artists (featuring Johnny Cash)
Johnny Cash, a hero, a legend, and an icon. Many have tried to tackle his material before, some have failed, others have been crucified for it. With that said, if there was any project that would make you say “what the hell is this???”, this is it. The album was produced by Snoop Dog, clue one that it’s crap, and it takes legendary Sun Records Cash hits and mixes them with techno, rap and hip hop mixes, clue two it’s crap.
By definition Johnny Cash: Remixed is a collaboration of many artists who are little known by the public for the most part but have made some extreme strides in their respective fields. They were each given some of Johnny’s most glorified early hits and asked to shift them around in their own way in hopes of making them their own and presenting them as attractive and enticing offers for non-country fans to learn about the man in black and his classic music. This was a respectable goal, but this was not the way to do it. Not only does this album make a total mockery of Cash’s material, it presents his music outside of the glory and significance it had in country and pop. These are not the same great songs that Cash intended them to be, these are artificial and fake re-makes that do very little justice , if any, to the man himself and completely dismiss everything that made Cash’s songs so great.
The album leads off with producer Snoop Dog making another attempt at country music by taking on one of Johnny’s signature songs “I Walk The Line”. You want a template of how to destroy a perfectly respectable song, this is it. The remixed version features Cash’s original recording with Snoop rapping in addition to it in mindless mumbo jumbo which has absolutely nothing to do with the song itself and instead makes it sound like Snoop just wanted to hear himself talk, not sing, talk. I respect if Snoop Dog wants to pay homage to Cash, but he should do it in his own music with his own music. I’m glad to report that this is by far the worst track on the album and that Snoop was the only rapper that went all out here.
Of course that does not mean anything else is any more acceptable on this project. Every track on this project was approached differently and while some were rather creative, others were just wrong. For example, the little known track “Straight A’s In Love” was mixed by Troublemaker, and that’s just what happened, trouble. The track puts a skipping effect to the song that completely overshadows any significance it had in the first place. Sure it’s fun, but it’s just pointless. Some artists included themselves in the songs like The Heavy on “Doin’ My Time”, a mix that has a decent beat but is rather annoying in the end, and Alabama 3 who are the famed Sopranos theme song singers who did their take on “Leave The Junk Alone”, also annoying and completely oblivious to the real significance of the song. This continues through the bulk of the project until you finally get to the end of the album and once you here the dreary and dull Machine Drum take on “Belshazzar” and the haunting but horrid Apparat take on “I Heard That Lonesome Whistle Blow” you’re on your knees thanking God it’s over.
I will give some credit to a few of these mixers however. Some of them did manage to turn some decent remixed versions surprisingly enough. “Sugartime” was remixed by Kennedy who gave it almost a classic rock beat and joined Cash on the track. The result was the best original vocal work on the album and a respectable and actually enjoyable mix. I also concede that a few of the techno mixes, such as “Get Rhythm” and “Country Boy”, are a little bit enjoyable, but they are far from acceptable enough to pass. The one thing I do enjoy from this project however are a couple takes on some very personal Cash songs. The ballads “Rock Island Line” and “Port Of Lonely Hearts” were tackled by Wolf and Midnight Juggernauts respectively and both managed to make very respectable mixes. How did they do this…by taking into consideration aspects of the song that almost every other artist on this project set aside just to see how cool they could make their track sound. Both of these mixes successfully apply the feeling and significance of these songs that really made them worth the listen to begin with.
Needless to say this project is worth nothing, at least to the respectable country and Cash fan. It is a noble goal to try and spread the wealth of Johnny’s music, but this project is far from how it should have been approached. More than 90% of the project does little justice to some of the best the country genre has to offer from Johnny’s career. Some mixes do manage to capture the real glory of the songs while providing a unique and intriguing twist to the work, but every other track becomes much more focused on making something cool and different rather than something with a point to it. That being said, the album as a whole is very disrespectful to Cash’s music and completely defeats its purpose in the end. If you enjoy rap, continuously pointless blibber blabber and neat dance mixes that swap out meaning and significance for cool sounds and rhythm then this is the project for you, but if you really want to know Johnny Cash and you really want to see why he was such an important figure it would be just as easy to purchase one of his many classic collection than this piece of junk.