Unchained (Johnny Cash album)

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Studio album by
ReleasedNovember 5, 1996
StudioAkademie Mathematique of Philosophical Sound Research
(Hollywood, CA)
Sound City
(Van Nuys, CA)
Oceanway Recording
(Hollywood, CA)
NRG Recording
(North Hollywood, CA)
Cowboy's Arms Hotel and Recording Spa
(Nashville, TN)
ProducerRick Rubin
Johnny Cash chronology
The Road Goes on Forever
VH1 Storytellers: Johnny Cash & Willie Nelson
American series chronology
American Recordings
American III: Solitary Man
Singles from Unchained
  1. "Rusty Cage"
    Released: October 22, 1996
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic3.5/5 stars link
Robert Christgau(1-star Honorable Mention) link

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".


In contrast to the first album – on which Cash played alone – he is backed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. There are guest appearances by country music veteran Marty Stuart (additional guitar on more than half the songs); Flea, bassist from Red Hot Chili Peppers, on "Spiritual"; and by Lindsey Buckingham and Mick Fleetwood, both of Fleetwood Mac, on "Sea of Heartbreak".[1]

Unchained focuses on covers. In addition to three of Cash's own compositions, Unchained contained songs by Jude Johnstone ("Unchained"), Tom Petty ("Southern Accents"), Josh Haden ("Spiritual), 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. From 2003 to 2009 Johnny Cash’s version of I’ve Been Everywhere from this album Unchained has been used in several Choice Hotels commercials and has been the theme for these commercials. According to biographer Robert Hilburn, Cash also recorded a cover version of Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love" during the recording sessions for Unchained, but it was not released.[2]

In comparison with the country folk sound of Cash's other American Recordings' albums, this release has more of a country rock sound.[citation needed] 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.

Previous recordings[edit]

Two songs on the album had previously been recorded by Cash.

Track listing[edit]

2."Sea of Heartbreak"Paul Hampton, Hal David2:42
3."Rusty Cage"Chris Cornell2:49
4."The One Rose (That's Left in My Heart)"Del Lyon, Lani McIntire2:26
5."Country Boy"Johnny Cash2:31
6."Memories Are Made of This"Richard Dehr, Terry Gilkyson, Frank Miller2:19
7."Spiritual"Josh Haden5:06
8."The Kneeling Drunkard's Plea"Maybelle Carter, Anita Carter, Helen Carter, June Carter Cash2:32
9."Southern Accents"Tom Petty4:41
10."Mean Eyed Cat"Cash2:33
11."Meet Me in Heaven"Cash3:21
12."I Never Picked Cotton"Bobby George, Charles Williams2:39
13."Unchained"Jude Johnstone2:51
14."I've Been Everywhere"Geoff Mack3:16


Adapted from the album liner notes.

  • Johnny Cash – vocals, acoustic guitar
  • Tom Petty – vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass, chamberlin
  • Mike Campbell – acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass, mandolin, dobro
  • Benmont Tench – piano, hammond organ, vox continental organ, harmonium, chamberlin
  • Howie Epstein – acoustic guitar, bass
  • Steve Ferrone – drums and percussion (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, 14)
  • Curt Bisquera – drums and percussion (7, 8)
  • Marty Stuart – acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass (1, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14)
  • Flea – bass (7)
  • Lindsey Buckingham – acoustic guitar (2)
  • Mick Fleetwood – percussion (2)
  • Juliet Prater – percussion (3)
  • 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 (Oasis Mastering)
  • Martyn Atkins – art direction, photography
  • Christine Cano – art direction, design, photography, inlay photography
  • Andy Earl – photography


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


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[4] N/A 221,000[3]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Thomson, G. (2011). The Resurrection of Johnny Cash: Hurt, Redemption, and American Recordings. Jawbone Press, pp.195-198.
  2. ^ Robert Hilburn, Johnny Cash: A Life. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2013, p.564
  3. ^ "8ask". Billboard. 19 February 2003. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  4. ^ "American album certifications – Johnny Cash – Unchained". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH.