The album was recorded in the 1980s but shelved when Columbia dropped the Man in Black in 1986.
In the early 1980s, Johnny Cash was at a low point in his career. In an attempt to modernize his sound, Columbia Records paired him with Nashville legend Billy Sherrill, one of the architects of country’s pop-influenced “countrypolitan” sound.
Recorded in 1981 and 1984, the music that would become Out Among the Stars was never released. John Carter Cash (Cash’s son with June Carter Cash), working with archivists at Legacy Recordings, didn’t find the material until last year.
“They never threw anything away,” John Carter Cash told Billboard about his parents. “They kept everything in their lives. They had an archive that had everything in it from the original audio tapes from `The Johnny Cash Show’ to random things like a camel saddle, a gift from the prince of Saudi Arabia.”
“We were so excited when we discovered this,” Cash said. “We were like, my goodness this is a beautiful record that nobody has ever heard. Johnny Cash is in the very prime of his voice for his lifetime. He’s pitch perfect. It’s seldom where there’s more than one vocal take. They’re a live take and they’re perfect.”
Out Among the Stars is due out on March 25. Its 12 tracks include a duet with Waylon Jennings and two with June Carter Cash.