I never liked Johnny Cash, and I've been a music fan for most of my 55+ years. Then, a year ago, I was in a used record shop in Norwich, England, when I heard something that stopped me in my tracks. "Who the hell is that?" I asked the kid behind the counter. "It's Johnny Cash," he said. And so it was, Johnny Cash singing "Spiritual", from one of the American records. I was stunned and overwhelmed by the lean beauty of that song, and the courage of the man singing it. Since that trip, I've bought all the American albums. This one, though, is simply my favorite. Cash's cover of Neil Diamond's Solitary Man is brilliant. And "The Mercy Seat" is just overwhelming in its emotional intensity and its deep ring of the truth. Was I ever wrong for all those years about The Man in Black. This music, spare, lean, intense, haunted, and brave, is unlike any American music I have ever heard. It comes closest to the raw intensity of the best of the blues. But it's all Johnny Cash, the one and only. Hear it, weep, and rejoice. This is a consummate artist at the peak of his career, even at its end.