September 30, 2002 12:00 PM

A Tribute to the Songs of Johnny Cash
Various Artists (Sony Nashville)

This year’s reissues of Johnny Cash’s own recordings are the best commemoration of his 70th birthday last February. And Dualtone’s Dressed in Black, another recently released Cash tribute featuring lesser-known artists, is superior musically to this disc. But Kindred Spirits, including Cash covers by such heavyweights as Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, is the glitziest testimonial to the Man in Black. Even Hank Williams Jr. manages to tone down his usual boorishness for a rollicking version of “Big River.” “I Still Miss Someone,” always touching, is all the more so as sung by Cash’s daughter Rosanne. And Emmylou Harris, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Sheryl Crow harmonize warmly on “Flesh and Blood.” Men are better suited to Cash’s songs, though. Travis Tritt was born to sing “I Walk the Line,” while somehow Little Richard works nicely on “Get Rhythm.” But the biggest surprise is bluesman Keb’ Mo’, who puts some real ache into “Folsom Prison Blues,” the album’s highlight.

Bottom Line: A spirited salute

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