Picks and Pans Review: Rockabilly Blues

updated 11/24/1980 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/24/1980 01:00AM

Johnny Cash

As the newest Country Music Hall of Famer, Cash can get away with singing, as he does here, tunes like Billy Joe Shaver's tedious The Cowboy Who Started the Fight, Rodney Crowell's overwrought One Way Rider and his own coy, cheerfully sexist W-O-M-A-N. Johnny can personalize even the most pedestrian tunes and add enough idiosyncrasies to make them of at least passing interest. But Cash also comes up here with strikingly nonpedestrian material. Two examples are Without Love, by British rocker Nick Lowe (husband of Cash's stepdaughter, Carlene Carter), and Kris Kristofferson's new, acridly bitter The Last Time. Most moving, though, is another Shaver song, It Ain't Nothing New Babe, which Cash turns into an almost paternal consolation, backed by Jack Clement's dobro. The only real rockabilly is the unexceptional title tune, and that is the only disappointment in the album.

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