The mid 1980s to early '90s are often regarded by casual listeners as Johnny Cash's lost years, merely because he was under the commercial radar before Rick Rubin helped revive his career in the mid '90s. Nevertheless, the recordings Cash made during this period, as captured on THE DEFINITIVE COLLECTION, contain plenty of substantive work. Things lead off with "Highwayman," the theme song of Cash's Highwaymen country supergroup with Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson. Sharp new versions of Cash classics like "I Guess Things Happen That Way" find him breathing new life into the past. The hard-hitting country rock of "Goin' By the Book" and Cash's atmospheric U2 collaboration, "The Wanderer" (from their ZOOROPA album), show he hadn't lost the contemporary touch. Ultimately, though, the real testament to this phase of his career is the fact that there are still enough unrepresented tunes for a second volume.