American II: Unchained

Unchained, also known as American II: Unchained, is the second album in Johnny Cash’s American Recordings series (and his 82nd overall). It was released on November 5, 1996, by American Recordings. Like all of Cash’s albums for American Recordings, Unchained was produced by Rick Rubin. The album received a Grammy for Best Country Album and Cash was nominated for Best Male Country Vocal Performance for his version of “Rusty Cage.” 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 and mastered at Oasis Mastering, Studio City, California. Here are all of American II: Unchained songs ranked.

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10. I’ve Been Everywhere

“I fell in love the night I heard this album. Not with Johnny’s songs, but with the cool, tall man who played it in his car while we sat outside my house with smokes and beers. All night we listened to that damn tape while we wrestled with the fine and smokey sparks between us.”

9. I Never Picked Cotton

“1994’s American Recordings was a masterpiece that absolutely no one saw coming. Cash had not had a commercial hit in over a decade, was going through some health problems, and was written off by almost everyone.”

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8. Mean Eyed Cat

“This was a far superior rendition when compared to the original that had released in the 1950’s. Cash’s entire catalog is made up of country, rockabilly, 50’s rock n’roll, gospel, and just simple songs made up of Mr. Cash and his acoustic guitar.”

See more: Johnny Cash Albums Ranked

7. Kneeling Drunkard’s Plea

“Johnny Cash may never have sounded better than here. What an album! Soundgarden, Beck .. his choice of covers is gutsy. He never gave up, not even on the kids. And they make it up to him.”

Biography of Johnny Cash, American Singer-Songwriter

6. Memories Are Made of This

“Memories are Made of This” takes a fairly schmaltzy sounding Dean Martin tune, strips it to a country shuffle, and reveals it as a pretty good song.  Memories Are Made of This is a classic with a performance that does it justice.”

5. The One Rose

“I defy anyone who denies Mr. Cash’s vocal prowess to sit and listen to this song and not be moved and shaken to the very core. An absolutely masterful performance that will leave you quivering and in an emotional state of shock, regardless of your religious views.”

See more: Johnny Cash Songs Ranked

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4. Sea of Heartbreak

“The up-tempo acoustic guitar on the chorus provides a great backdrop for Cash and Petty’s harmonization. If there were any doubts as that this CDs greatness, they are removed by this second track.”

3. Rowboat

“Opening up the album is a fine version of Beck’s Rowboat, a rocking good-time take with a healthy dose of country twang thrown in for good measure.”

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2. Country Boy

“It is an amusing tale of a man who drives his woman away over a money dispute only to travel across the country by train to win her back. He even has to consult with his mother-in-law to find out where his love has gone.”

1. Meet Me in Heaven

“Though it could not surprise as the first American Recordings album did, Unchained was its near equal, and a worthy, new, and varied addition to the Cash catalog that deserved the Grammy it received for Best Country Album. Of course, Johnny Cash would like to thank country radio and the Nashville music establishment…”