For old timers out there, we’ve got to stay alive a few more years. This box set contains 3 CDs and 54 performances. The treasure trove from Mother’s Best will result in a similar set next year and I think a third 3 CD compilation in 2010.
As readers will know and I won’t go into detail, we had to wait until 2008 because the acetate disks sat at WSM for decades apparently thought to be worthless until they were tossed in the trash and then rescued by an employee. We’ve waited years more because of legal wrangles over ownership of the disks and music between The radio station, the record company and the Williams estate represented by Jett Williams and Hank Williams Jr.
Fortunately the estate won and Jett Williams has demanded and received a classy full booklet box set treatment with detailed notes onj the collection and the individual recordings.
Off the top, it seems to me the acetate recording equipment and studio acoustics at WSM appear to be better that they were at the Castle Studios where his MGM records were made. The sound quality on most of these recordings is superb, the best ever.
As all Hank fans know a mention of the afterlife is like popping the clutch and reving the engine into a new level in a Hank Williams’ vocal.
Finally the critics love Hank’s rendition of Cool Water one of the few western style songs I recall Hank doing. But before you mention it, I haven’t forgotten ‘Happy Rovin Cowboy’ the introductory theme for the Health and Happiness shows. Colin Escott in his notes says this may be Hank’s finest vocal performance ever. I don’t think i would go that far, but Hank gives the number his full effort as a singer with the pacing just masterful through the changes in rhythm that are the hallmark of this western classic. Hank grabs and holds those notes as only he can, clear and strong. It’s a silly joke I know, but by the end of this version of ‘Cool Water’ you’re starting to feel a little hot and thirsty.
I’ll be back to this set, and will try to leave a series of links to the reviews I’ve seen as well.
Buy Hank Williams: The Unreleased Recordings. It’s the greatest addition to the Hank story in our lifetimes.