The Blackest of the Man in Black

Pinkus, Buzzo, Bad Seeds highlight new Cash tribute

The Blackest of the Man in Black

Johnny Cash’s most funereal material – songs of hard luck, murder, and sorrow – gets the spotlight on 5 Minutes to Live, a short-but-not-sweet tribute record spiked with appearances from scoundrel heroes of underground music.

“Gentleman” Jeff Pinkus, banjo pickin’ bassist of the Butthole Surfers and Honky, leads a grinning take of unreleased fuck-up anthem “The Losing Kind,” while Bad Seeds/Birthday Party multi-instrumentalist Mick Harvey cocks his pistol on the threatening “5 Minutes to Live,” title track for the Man in Black-starring 1961 cult film. That rounds out the front half of the four-song 12-inch released by San Antonio’s Saustex Records last Friday.

Fiddle mystic Warren Ellis (Bad Seeds, Dirty Three, Grinderman) lords over the stirring second side, which finds Memphis miscreant Joey Killingsworth singing murder ballad “The Sound of Laughter.” Then, fern-haired Melvins bellower Buzz Osborne sings a singularly moving version of the saddest song Cash ever covered: “Long Black Veil.”

Of course the most important appearance on 5 Minutes to Live is that of W.S. Holland, who drums on the quartet of cuts. “Fluke” Holland kept the beat for Johnny Cash nearly 40 years, anchoring the Tennessee Three, the Great Eighties Eight, and even the Million Dollar Quartet.

The wax arrives as a spiritual sequel to last year’s excellent Mutants of the Monster tribute to Black Oak Arkansas, also on Saustex as conceived/helmed by Killingsworth and his group Joecepus & the George Jonestown Massacre, which backs a cadre of high profile guest appearances. Killingsworth is donating all of his proceeds to the FSH Society, promoters of research and advocacy for facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy.

Cash completists and dwellers of country’s dark corners will want to check out 5 Minutes to Live, whose colored viny can be copped here. Take a listen to King Buzzo’s astonishing vocal on “Long Black Veil.”

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Johnny Cash
Out Among the Stars: Cash to the Clash
Out Among the Stars: Cash to the Clash
New but vintage bluegrass, classic rock, country & punk CD/DVDs

Jim Caligiuri, April 2, 2014

Rarities and Tributaries
Rarities and Tributaries
Johnny Cash, Vic Chesnutt, and more new old sounds

Jim Caligiuri, Feb. 23, 2011

More by Kevin Curtin
Crucial Concerts for the Coming Week
Crucial Concerts for the Coming Week
Bigg Robb, Weedeater, the return of Lou Ann Barton, Mike Sailor's Good Time Orchestra and more

July 1, 2022

May We Suggest Some Music to Chill Out Your Dog During the Fireworks?
May We Suggest Some Music to Chill Out Your Dog During the Fireworks?
New Austin music to drown out the booms

July 1, 2022


Johnny Cash, 5 Minutes to Live, W.S. Holland, Tennessee Three, Million Dollar Quartet, Jeff Smith, Saustex Records, Warren Ellis, Dirty Three, Grinderman, Jeff Pinkus, Butthole Surfers, Honky, Buzz Osborne, Melvins, Mick Harvey, Bad Seeds, Birthday Party, Joey Killingsworth, Joecepus & the George Jonestown Massacre

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle