Unchained (Johnny Cash album)

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Studio album by Johnny Cash
Released November 5, 1996
Recorded 1995-1996
Genre Country, Americana, rock
Length 41:11
Label American/
Warner Bros.
Producer Rick Rubin
Johnny Cash chronology
The Road Goes on Forever
VH1 Storytellers: Johnny Cash & Willie Nelson
American series chronology
American Recordings
American III: Solitary Man

Unchained, also known as American II: Unchained, is the second album in Johnny Cash's American Recording series (and his 82nd overall). Like all Cash's albums for American, Unchained was produced by Rick Rubin. In contrast to the first American Recordings album, on which Cash played alone, on the follow-up he is backed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, with guest appearances by Flea, bassist from Red Hot Chili Peppers, on "Spiritual", and Lindsey Buckingham and Mick Fleetwood, both of Fleetwood Mac, on "Sea of Heartbreak". Unchained focuses more on covers and less on original material than the first album in the series. In addition to three of Cash's own compositions, Unchained contained songs by Tom Petty ("Southern Accents"), Soundgarden ("Rusty Cage") and Beck ("Rowboat"), The album also included a cover of the classic 1962 Hank Snow song, "I've Been Everywhere", written by Geoff Mack, and remakes of two songs Cash recorded early in his career for Sun Records: "Country Boy" and "Mean Eyed Cat". In comparison with the country folk sound of Cash's other American Recordings' albums this one has more of a hard, true country rock sound. The album was recorded over a six-month period with engineer Sylvia Massy at Sound City Studios, Ocean Way Studios, Rick Rubin's home studio and The Cowboy Arms And Recording Spa in Nashville, Tennessee.

Unchained received a Grammy for Best Country Album and Cash was nominated for Best Male Country Vocal Performance for his version of Rusty Cage.

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars link
Robert Christgau (1-star Honorable Mention) link

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Rowboat" (Beck) – 3:44
    Originally recorded by Beck for Stereopathetic Soulmanure (1994)
  2. "Sea of Heartbreak" (Paul Hampton, Hal David) – 2:42
    Originally a hit single for Don Gibson (1961)
  3. "Rusty Cage" (Chris Cornell) – 2:49
    Originally recorded by Soundgarden for Badmotorfinger (1991)
  4. "The One Rose (That's Left in My Heart)" (Del Lyon/Lani McIntire) – 2:26
    Originally recorded in 1930 by Jimmie Rodgers, also recorded by Larry Clinton, Bing Crosby, Art Kassel (all 3 in 1937), George Morgan, Hank Snow, and Michael Nesmith (1970)
  5. "Country Boy" (Cash) – 2:31
    Originally recorded by Cash for Sun, appears on With His Hot and Blue Guitar (1957)
  6. "Memories Are Made of This" (Richard Dehr/Terry Gilkyson/Frank Miller) – 2:19
    Originally a hit single by Dean Martin and The Easy Riders (1956)
  7. "Spiritual" (Josh Haden) – 5:06
    Originally recorded by Spain for The Blue Moods of Spain (1995)
  8. "The Kneeling Drunkard's Plea" (Maybelle Carter/Anita Carter/Helen Carter/June Carter Cash) – 2:32
    Originally recorded by The Louvin Brothers for Satan Is Real (1960)
  9. "Southern Accents" (Tom Petty) – 4:41
    Originally recorded by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers for Southern Accents (1985)
  10. "Mean Eyed Cat" (Cash) – 2:33
    Originally recorded by Cash for Sun, appears on Sings Hank Williams (1960)
  11. "Meet Me in Heaven" (Cash) – 3:21
  12. "I Never Picked Cotton" (Bobby George/Charles Williams) – 2:39
    Originally recorded by Roy Clark for I Never Picked Cotton (1970)
  13. "Unchained" (Jude Johnstone) – 2:51
    Later recorded by Johnstone for Coming of Age (2002)
  14. "I've Been Everywhere" (Geoff Mack) – 3:17
    Originally a hit single by Lucky Starr (1959) and Hank Snow (1962)


Additional personnel[edit]

  • Rick Rubin - Producer
  • David Ferguson - Engineer
  • Sylvia Massy - Engineer, Mixing
  • John Ewing Jr., Greg Fidelman, Eddie Miller, Michael Stock - Assistant Engineers
  • Gene Grimaldi, Eddy Schreyer - Mastering
  • Martyn Atkins - Art Direction, Photography
  • Christine Cano - Art Direction, Design, Photography, Inlay Photography
  • Andy Earl - Photography

Chart performance[edit]


Chart (1996) Peak
U.S. Billboard 200 170
U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums 26


Best Country Album

Unused tracks[edit]

According to biographer Robert Hilburn, Cash recorded a cover version of Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love" during the recording sessions for Unchained, but it was not released.[1]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Robert Hilburn, Johnny Cash: A Life. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2013, p.564