Dressed in Black & Kindred Spirits

Dressed in Black. Various Artists. | Dualtone. Kindred Spirits. Various Artists. | Sony Nashville.


Coinciding with Johnny Cash’s 70th birthday, two new tribute albums celebrate the country icon’s living legacy. Many of the admirers on Dressed in Black offer faithful echoes of his thunderous baritone, though the Mavericks’ Raul Malo recasts “I Guess Things Happen That Way” as a somber Roy Orbison-type ballad, while Rodney Crowell’s “Ballad of a Teenage Queen” is smooth and sweet. Kindred Spirits features bigger stars who take greater license with their renditions. Among the highlights: Bob Dylan’s scruffy “Train of Love” and a hushed “Give My Love to Rose” by Bruce Springsteen. The biggest surprise comes from Little Richard, whose blistering “Get Rhythm” testifies to the remarkable scope of Cash’s influence.

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  • Jon Young is a contributing writer for Mother Jones. For more of his stories, click here.