- Personnel: Johnny Cash (vocals, acoustic guitar); Tom Petty (vocals, acoustic & electric guitars, bass, chamberlin); Mike Campbell (acoustic & electric guitars, bass, mandolin, dobro); Marty Stuart (acoustic & electric guitars, bass); Howie Epstein (acoustic guitar, bass); Lindsay Buckingham (acoustic guitar); Benmont Tench (piano, Hammond B-3 organ, harmonium, chamberlin); Flea (bass); Steve Ferrone, Curt Bisquera (drums, percussion); Mick Fleetwood, Juliet Prater (percussion).
- Recorded at Akademie Mathmatique Of Philosophical Sound Research & Oceanway Recording, Hollywood, California; Sound City, Van Nuys, California; NRG Recording, North Hollywood, California; Cowboy's Arms Hotel & Recording Spa, Nashville, Tennessee. Includes liner notes by Johnny Cash.
- UNCHAINED won the 1998 Grammy Award for Best Country Album. "Rusty Cage" was nominated for a 1998 Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance.
- Johnny Cash follows up his solo-acoustic comeback, AMERICAN RECORDINGS, with another astounding slice of Americana. This time around he rocks out a bit, with the able assistance of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, while maintaining the raw, stripped-to-the-bone production (by American Records label head Rick Rubin) that made the last one so vibrant. The Heartbreakers provide the perfect accompaniment, with a rootsy sound that's sprightly but never overwhelming, leaving plenty of room for Cash's cavernous baritone to jump off the album and into your soul.
- Cash has always displayed a sharp ear for material, but he's rarely been as daring and unconventional in that sense as he is here. In addition to writing three strong originals for UNCHAINED, Cash takes on songs by postmodern folk-rocker Beck (the startling album opener "Rowboat") and the grunge-rock band Soundgarden (whose "Rusty Cage" sounds scarily made to order for Cash). He also does a Dean Martin hit, "Memories Are Made of This," and Petty's "Southern Accents," along with old country standards from the catalogs of Jimmie Rodgers, the Louvin Brothers and others. It's quite a selection, and Cash lays his claim on every song so completely that you may never be able to hear the originals the same way again. Johnny Cash is a rare breed. The purity and power of his voice cut through to the essential, primal truth of any song he sings.
Rolling Stone (1/23/97, p.44) - Ranked #5 on Rolling Stone's list of the "Ten Best Albums" of 1996.
Rolling Stone (12/26/96, p.198) - "...a more conventional country-blues record than AMERICAN RECORDINGS. It is also less of an art project. Cash brings equal helpings of spirituality and savoir-faire to his singing..."
Entertainment Weekly (11/08/96, p.69) - "...a travelogue of Cash's sticky psyche--the repentant sinner wrestling with dark desires. Backed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Cash still sounds like the Voice of the Ages, with his bass baritone wobbling on pitch as it hasn't in years." - Rating: B+
Alternative Press (4/97, p.66) - 3 (out of 5) - "...Cash slips on [these] tunes as comfortably as a black mourning coat."
Musician (2/97, p.123) - "...the sound is pure Cash--all chesty rumble and straight-strummed guitars with nothing funkier than a rockabilly beat from the rhythm section....UNCHAINED seems such classic Cash it almost doesn't matter who's playing with him..."
Village Voice (2/25/97) - Ranked #21 in the Village Voice's 1996 Pazz & Jop Critics' Poll.