Inventory: 18 musicians that need the American Recordings treatment

Johnny Cash would’ve been a legend regardless, but 1994’s American Recordings brought the singer a late-career renaissance with a formula that many have since tried to emulate. With Rick Rubin on board as producer/guru, Cash turned in his most stripped-down, emotional set in decades, and the album—his 81st!—stands among his best. He’d end up making six volumes, all quite good, and earning respect among younger generations in the process. (An incredible Nine Inch Nails cover didn’t hurt.) In subsequent years, everybody from Donovan to Mavis Staples to Neil Diamond to Al Green has tried to map out a similar path by working with better or hipper producers, covering unexpected songs, and generally trying to reboot or reclaim their sounds—with varying degrees of success. Here are 18 that we think should seriously consider shaking up their current formulas.

1. Chuck Berry

In a …

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