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Posts Tagged ‘Mother’s Best Flour’

This is the best news concerning Hank Williams’ biography and his  mysterious death I have  heard in a long time. Now we should start to get some answers you can trust. Keith Adkinson, Jett Williams’ husband, from what I can determine, is a tenacious very competent attorney who has already scored two huge victories on Hank Williams’ issues in the courts.

Remember Keith won Jett a share of the Hank Williams estate and then won full ownership of the Mother’s Best recordings for Jett Williams and Hank Williams Jr. To win these battles “The Duo” as they call themselves tackled and beat very powerful wealthy and entrenched interests aligned to protect the Hank Williams estate and the ownership of a very valuable property. The famous Mother’s Best acetates had been thrown in the trash by WSM before being rescued and preserved by an employee. In the end I think ownership was claimed by just about everybody involved, the rescuer, the radio station, recording company, publisher and of course Jett and Hank Jr. Adkinson beat them all.

Kieth Adkinson is a shrewd sharp Washington lawyer who from what I understand never gives up and is dogged and determined in pursuing any cause he decides to take on. Before undertaking the Jett Williams’ case in 1982 he had worked on a variety of legal issues,and become a prominent Washing attorney including work for Congressional Committee and the  Reagan campaign. He married Jett Williams in 1986, and now practices law in Nashville.

In the latest issue of the Jett Williams’ newsletter to fans it’s clear that Keith and Jett are really getting serious about the mysteries surrounding the death of Hank Williams on an ill conceived dangerous trip from Montgomery to Canton Ohio on the New Years’ Eve Weekend in 1952-53. According to the article Jett is using her Sirious/XM radio show to report on their findings.

Here’s the link to the newsletter   UPDATE: This link no longer works..HWJ which has a 4 page article called “Was Hank Williams’ Death a Homicide?” Pretty explosive stuff. 

Interestingly, I have received a few comments on this blog concerning this issue, one of which comes from the son of a prominent figure mentioned in the Jett Williams’ report, as well as some from Hank Williams’ newsletter author Beecher O’Quinn.

For some reason 29 comments mostly about the death of Hank Williams including the one from Howard Surface came on this rather obscure blog post among the many I have written on the movie ‘The Last Ride’.

I am more interested in Hank Williams’ works, reputation, legacy, and his survival into future generations than details of his biography and death, about which I admit I am not well-informed.

But when this movie news started coming out I did make some comments on Hank’s last days which come about half way down this blog posting. 

Not many people have made the observations I did on that post. My feelings are based on intuition not research I guess, but I am very happy to see Keith Adkinson on this  baffling story of Hank’s tragic, sad last days on earth.

I know one thing for sure, if Keith and Jett spend the time and resources on this as they appear to be doing, I think their integrity would be enough for me to accept their conclusions, whatever they are,  and put the issue to rest, finally.

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The vitally important ‘Health and Happiness’ live radio programs recorded by Hank Williams in 1949 will be back on the market September 13th. The eight 15 minute programs will apparently be part of a new Box Set released by Time Life which produced the recent series of Mother’s Best Flour radio program recordings. This means the recording should receive the tasteful professional presentation we’ve seen with Mother’s Best.

Despite the importance of this blog to many Hank Williams fans I don’t get any advance  detailed factual information from record companies or movie makers or Hank tribute performers or museums. I picked this news about ‘Health and Happiness’ from the Great American Country news site. The articles are not clear whether the new release will contain complete shows similar to the Health and Happiness 2 CD Box Set released by PolyGram in 1993.

The September release will also include some very early Hank Williams recording from 1938 and other rarities.

But to me the rerelease of ‘Health and Happiness’ is really good news. The two CD Box Set  had been dropped from the catalogue by Hank’s current label Lost Highway records.

The title of the box set is ‘The Legend Begins’.

I consider ‘Health and Happiness’ to be equal to Mother’s Best in importance.

There are only 8 programs in this series, but they are much more slickly produced than the sloppy easy-going Mother’s Best. In addition each program contains 3 full songs rather than just 2. We do realize that part of the charm of Mother’s Best is the amount of chatter  which reveal much about Hank’s personality. But Health and Happiness gives us more singing and shows Hank off as a real pro radio personality.

I have written some earlier articles about and mentioning the Box Set of  Health and Happiness here.

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The name Hank Williams will once again be part of the Grammy Awards as the Time Life production of the The Complete Mother’s Best Flour 1951 radio programs is nominated for Best Historical Album.

The actual nominees are: the producers Colin Escott, Mike Jason & Jett Williams, compilation producers; Joseph M.Palmaccio, mastering engineer.

The competition looks a little tough. The re-release of The Beatles (The Original Studio Recordings), Not Fade Away: The Complete Studio Recordings and More (Buddy Holly), and a compilation of  the best recordings being made in Los Angeles in the mid 60’s.

The Grammy Award show will be held February 13th.

The Complete  Mother’s Best is a 15 CD Box Set, with a bonus DVD, all packaged in a simulated vintage radio format. The Box  Set contains all of the 15 minute radio shows which Hank Williams recorded live to disk on acetates to be played on the air when he was on the road and couldn’t do the show live. They contain some of Hank Williams  most dramatic and memorable singing performances. The Mother’s Best shows reveal a more  informal relaxed radio personality which Hank fans haven’t heard before. The sound quality is better than the original MGM recordings, showcasing  a richer deeper more expressive Hank Williams’ singing style. Finally, the radio programs reveal a wide range of musical interests as Hank searched through his wide knowledge of folk and gospel music to find material to fill the requirements of a daily radio show.

Time Life was chosen by the Hank Williams estate to handle the Mother’s Best programs once it achieved ownership after a lengthy legal battle.  Two 3 CD highlight compilations were released in 2008 and 2009. Then this year  it was decided to release the entire Mother’s Best  catalogue in one big package. The Box Set at $199.00 US has received excellent reviews from major newspapers and music journals. The decision to release the entire historical record of Mother’s Best Shows has now been rewarded with a nomination by the biggest musical award show there is, The Grammy Awards.

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I was under a misapprehension over the past couple years of Mother’s Best Hank Williams releases. From earlier articles and releases, I had concluded that there would be a third box set this fall under roughly the same format as the first two. I wrote that several times, but I was wrong.

The Complete Mother’s Best to be released at the end of September will finish off the current series. I’m sure there will be various packages in different formats and outlets as the years go buy, but the new release will round out the series.

I should have realized there would have to be a change as I checked  through the Hank Williams Sr Listings Website which I have linked to in the Blogroll at the side. There are two things I forgot until I reread the fine color coded listings  of the content of all the Mother’s Best shows. When you do that, you find out two things;
One: There is a lot of repetiton of the Hank performances, and
Two: There are a lot of Audrey performances.

I don’t trash Audrey as most other commentators do, so don’t bother looking for it.

This means there really isn’t much left on the original acetates.

However, I still think a nice much more inexpensive package of edited  single performances could have been put together. There are a number of repeated performances I would like to hear. I’m especially interested in the different versions of the up tempo  rockabilly foundation numbers.

There are alternate versions of ‘Why Don’t You Love Me’, ‘Nobody’s Lonesome For Me’, ‘Move It on Over’, ‘I Just Don’t Like This Kind of Living’,’Hey Good Lookin’, ‘Mind Your Own Business’ and ‘Moanin the Blues’. There are also different versions of ‘Sing, Sing, Sing,’ and ‘My Sweet Love Ain’t Around’.

So I would like to see an inexpensive one disk release of edited singles from Mother’s Best which haven’t been released yet, even if they are duplicates..

But at the same time, there is an absolute historic necessity that the Mother’s Best Shows be released in their entirety as they were recorded. And shouldn’t all of the Armed Forces Recordings be assembled and released as well? I assume there’s more of that material than was released on ‘Live at the Grand Ole Opry’. But I’m not a researcher so can’t be sure.

My quibbling can’t detract at all from Time Life’s  enormous achievement  in this whole Mother’s Best release project. And the Williams’ estate deserves credit for selecting this company to handle this important historical artifact. The format, notes, packaging,  song selection, and remastering have been beyond criticism. I’m sure the new ‘Complete’ 16 disc set will live up to the standard set by the two 3CD releases. But I would still like to see some of those unreleased duplicates released in single song format.

Once again here’s the website for the new release.

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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.

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Hank Williams is not just an entertainer, a country music superstar, a pop song writer, a radio personality a million seller recording star, country hall of fame member, rock hall member. Hank Williams transcends these popular designations, honors,  and labels that change with the weeks and months and years.

Hank Williams is a world artist of the highest order whose work rises above region, place or time.  Hank Williams stared fearlessly into the depths of anguish, despair and death. Hank Williams exalts in  the triumphs of human nature, the  raucous sensual joys, and hopes and optimism in life and love. In his short life, he tasted the triumphs of commercial success, sold out concerts,  punishing national tours, million selling records, the top of the hit parade.  

Now 60 years later we are moving into uncharted territory as just recently seen by his inclusion in the New Literary  History of America. The release of the ‘The Unreleased Recordings’ last year was reviewed by newspapers, radio and television, magazines and other journals around the world. This modest little blog receives visitors from Europe and elsewhere around the world. I support the petition to have Hank reinstated to the Grand Old Opry, but find it rather amusing. Friends, in the Hank Williams’ universe of 2009, the Grand Old Opry is peanuts!

If  ‘Revealed’ the second 3 volume Box Set of Hank Williams’ Mother’s Best Recordings had been released first it probably would have had the same dramatic impact as the first set of ‘The Unreleased Recordings’ had a year ago. But now, I suppose, the exciting and wonderful new insights into Hank Williams talent and personality we experienced a year ago were taken for granted as we waited for this the second of three Mother’s Best Box Sets expected from Time Life. And so far the new set has not received the wide-ranging publicity avalanche that occurred when ‘The Unreleased’ was dropped into the music world.

There is nothing disappointing about this collection. As I wrote in an earlier post, the new format of dividing the discs by theme and presenting one complete show on each disk is a success. The first disc of hits contains some really rocking versions of Hank’s early rockabilly recordings such as ‘Move It On Over’, ‘Hey Good Lookin’ ,’Why Don’t You Love Me’, Moanin The Blues and ‘Mind Your Own Business’. Disc 2 presents the usual solid and moving renditions of sacred songs many  we may have never heard him sing before. Disc 3 will be a disappointment to some and will not get as much playing time as the first two. It’s called ‘Luke the Drifter’ although that’s a bit misleading. From my memory, and the discographers will know of course, but many of these songs did not appear as original Luke the Drifter recordings. Most of the songs here are familiar to fans  and a new cover of ‘Deck of Cards’ a late 40s narration hit  really doesn’t add much to the Hank Williams’ story.

But overall the new set continues the sense of  excitement that  the first Mother’s Best recordings  brought to the average Hank Williams fan for the first time. There is the clarity and broadcast quality of the sound which surpasses the original MGM studio recordings. There is the richness in his voice and subtlety of expression we never heard before, not  until these old acetate radio program recordings were remastered and restored.

We learn more about Hank. And this is where the new set even surpasses the first release. A lot more studio banter and Hank’s relaxed easy going kibitzing with his band and host Louis Buck is included.  It’s a relaxed presentation that doesn’t sound like Hank’s session recordings that he knew were carved in stone so to speak and would last forever. These are just more of the of thousands of radio programs in Montgomery, Shreveport and Nashville that he did through the years and for all he knew were going out across the airwaves to disappear forever.

But on the other hand, the recordings have an immediacy in his knowledge that they were going out live to thousands of people and this brings out a relaxed intimacy with the microphone and audience only ‘live’ radio creates. Another revelation from the first Box Set  was the breadth of  Hank Williams’ musical interests and knowledge. Once again the gospel songs are standouts, along with hits made famous by other singers, and  fascinating if obscure songs Hank Williams picked to fill out these radio programs, .

These recordings are an artistic treasure, because they shows us more. They unveil the Hank Williams as an artist for the ages.  An artist with a short life and limited output. But an artist whose breadth of knowledge of human emotions  expressed both a writer and a performer, who  explores  the deepest issues of human existence is unsurpassed  in popular music.

As I discussed in first Mother’s Best release, powerful performances of songs Hank did not write added so much to his stature.  I discussed ‘Cool Water’ On Top of old Smokey’  ‘Searching for a Soldier’s Grave’ and ‘Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?’ among others. The same is true this time.

There are some equally moving and forceful efforts on this new set. I’m just letting them sink in a bit, and as I did last time, will go over the new recordings disc by disc.

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‘Hank Williams Revealed’ is the title of the new Time/Life 3 CD Box Set of recording from the Mother’s Best Radio Programs.

The Album has now been listed on Amazon.

Strangely, a recent search of  the Time/Life music site did not bring up the new Album.

I imagine track listings have been posted out there, but I haven’t seen the list yet.

The official release date is November 3, 2009. You can pre order at the Amazon site.

 

UPDATE:

The Country Music sales site Pure Country Music has released a partial track listing for the new ‘Hank Williams Revealed’ 3 CD Box Set.

“. . . Includes Deck Of Cards, Hey Good Lookin, I Am Bound For The Promised Land, Faded Love And Winter Roses, Move It On Over, Jesus Died For Me, Ive Just Told Mama Goodbye, Lovesick Blues, That Beautiful Home, I Hang My Head And Cry, Mind Your Own Business, Lord Build Me A Cabin In Glory, Everythings Okay, Cold Cold Heart, How Can You Refuse Him Now, Where The Old Red River Flows, Lonesome Whistle, Farther Along, Alabama Waltz, Long Gone Lonesome Blues, Calling You, Just Waitin, My Sweet Love Aint Around, Dear Brother, Ive Been Down That Road Before, Why Dont You Love Me, At The Cross, Medley Steal Away / The Funeral, A Mansion On The Hill & many more”. . .

As with Amazon you can pre order the record at Pure Country.

UPDATE # 2

A more detailed look at ‘Hank Williams Revealed’ can be found on a later post here. And I have done another review a bit later here.

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