It’s not surprising that the new Mother’s Best 3 disc Box Set from Hank Williams is not getting the kind of attention from the media that last years first edition did.
Last year, you recall, I catalogued the huge list of major media outlets both print and electronic around the world who gave such glowing coverage to ‘The Unreleased Recordings’.
So far the major media outlets have passed over ‘Revealed’. These outlets obviously saw their treatment last year as an endorsement and commendation for the whole planned three release series.
But some bloggers in particular have done a great job of zeroing in on the new release.
One of the most profound statements on Hank Williams I have ever heard ( I say this because it mirrors my own views exactly) comes in the first sentence of Ken Burke’s review in ‘Country Standard Time’. Here it is:
After his death in 1953, Hank Williams, became less a performer than a post-mortem brand name wherein his basic personality as an artist was increasingly downplayed and diminished. This remarkably enjoyable three-CD set, drawn from warmly remastered acetates – featuring occasional surface noise – of the old Mother’s Best radio show, showcases much of that nearly lost essence.
Burke also notes the real drive that you can hear in the up tempo hits that are featured on Disc 1. He can see “rockabilly intentions” in Hanks work which were realized with Elvis later in the decade. The review ends with a statement on Williams’ lasting impact: “Williams’ down home charisma completely renews his star power for modern audiences.”
‘My Kind Of Country’ offers a complete in-depth review by Occasional Hope which allows that this Set may be of more “historical interest” than the ‘Unreleased’. It notes that the ‘Luke the Drifter’ selections on Disc 3 are not all originally by Luke the Drifter. Hope, I think correctly praises the live shows on each disc, but thinks really the wide variety of new unheard material on the ‘Unreleased’ Box set revealed more about Hank Williams artistry than the selections this time around.
Richard Marcus in ‘Leap in The Dark’ gets off a great line ab0ut the gospel songs which he finds disturbing overall: “a look into the darker recesses of Williams’ brain where guilt and fear sit holding hands.”
There is a short review at the allmusic website. Steve Leggett is really enthusiastic about the new release, “ these long-lost recordings are an absolute treasure simply goes without saying. Hank Williams was country music’s first modern superstar and that all these years later, we are given several hours of Williams performing in an intimate setting just as he was beginning to break across the nation’s radar, is nothing short of a miracle.”
Dan MacIntosh in ‘Roughstock’ expresses some disappointment with Disc 3. I share that concern that the third disc drags a bit with a mixture of vocal and spoken word. In the end MacIntosh gets pretty exuberant:
”Williams, even to this day, is deceptively amazing. He sang simple songs, with simple arrangements, but there is nevertheless great depth to what he recorded. Maybe it was his voice. Perhaps it was how he could distill complicated relationships – whether romantic or spiritual – into words that the common man could easily understand. Whatever the explanation, like a rural magician, you’ll likely find yourself asking, ‘How did he do that?’ after listening to this fine collection. You might also wonder if he ever recorded anything substandard. I’ll wager he never did, and this three-CD set supports such a belief.” Wow you can’t much more positive than that.
Pop Matters has once again reviewed the Hank Williams release from TimeLife. Christel Loar goes right to the core of what we’ve all being saying about these remastered Mother’s Best recordings: “The recordings reveal a personality that is much more lively and filled with humor than one might expect from listening to his most popular songs. Williams tells stories and talks easily about his music and his life as he performs his songs, many of which are alternate arrangements to familiar favorites, and some of which were never performed by Williams outside these studio sessions.”
So far I haven’t seen any reviews of the new album in major newspapers or even minor ones for that matter. If you run across any, please post them in the comments section below.