Water From the Wells of Home

Johnny Cash

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Water From the Wells of Home Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

By 1988, neither Johnny Cash nor his label, Mercury, wanted much to do with each other, and it's easy to see why -- Mercury was simply not supporting Cash, not letting him tackle challenging material, and Cash, in turn, wasn't delivering hits. Of course, making him re-record such classics as "Ballad of a Teenage Queen" was no guarantee of getting him back in the charts, but that's exactly how Water from the Wells of Home kicks off. It gets quite a bit better from there, as Cash sings a variety of material from Roy Acuff's "As Long as I Live" (also featuring Emmylou Harris) and Tom T. Hall's "The Last of the Drifters" to J.J. Cale's "Call Me the Breeze" and "New Moon Over Jamaica," which was co-written with Paul McCartney, who also appears on the song. In fact, the album is filled with guest appearances, including June Carter, Glen Campbell, Jessi Colter, the Everly Brothers, Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams, Jr., Rosanne Cash, and John Carter Cash. It's almost too many cameos for one album -- it might have garnered attention, which is exactly what Mercury would have wanted, but it tends to obscure Cash himself. Still, it makes for an interesting curio, and several cuts are strong enough to make the record worth a listen for hardcore fans. It's likely, however, that they'd rarely return to it after that initial listen.

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