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Hank Williams – ‘The Unreleased Recordings’

This three disc collection is a must-have item for any Hank Williams fan, or for any fan
of Country Music. The quality of these recordings is outstanding and the included booklet of information is also worthy of praise. Not only do you get to hear the songs, but you can also read background information for each one of them. The songs in this collection were taken from previous unreleased performances on the “Mother’s Best” program and are also part of a Time Life series with more to come.

Hank Wiliams: Icon and Legend

Hank Williams is an icon and a legend. To say anything less would be a great understatement. A person could spend many paragraphs describing the intricacies of his career and what it was about the artist that made him such a success. In the end, that still wouldn’t be enough. It’s a lot deeper than the lyrics he wrote and the songs he sang. There was something special about him, that went beyond most of what we as fans can understand. Sure there’s the tragedy of his death that undoubtedly lead to his mystique, but I believe even if he lived to tell more of his stories through music, he would have always been just as widely loved.How great it is, that someone who experienced such humble beginnings can make it to superstar status in not only the country genre, but others as well. All because of his hard work and dedication to his craft. The non-stop touring, concerts, gigs, and assorted performances would have taken a toll on anyone, but the Montgomery, Alabama native went on despite the pain and has found a place in many people’s hearts.

The Unreleased Recordings – The Songs:

Disc 1:

Like with each of the three discs included in The Unreleased Recordings set, there are familiar Hank favorites as well as other little gems you might not have heard before. Perhaps music fans instantly think about Willie Nelson when the song “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain” is mentioned, but now you can hear Hank’s version and fall in love with it too.

One of (if not THE) most beautiful Hank Williams songs is “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,”which has been covered many times by wonderful artists. Though, I feel with this song you just can’t beat the original.

“Hey Good Lookin'” has always been a special song to me, with sweet nostalgic memories attached. It also happens to be one of Hank’s most successful songs.

A performance of “On The Banks Of The Pontchartrain” doesn’t seem out of place with other compositions, however according to the informational booklet, Hank was sometimes heard saying that he didn’t want another (essential) “flop” such as “Pontchartrain,” which was written not by Hank, but Kathleen Ramona Vincent.

Disc 2:

The focus I’d like to place on the songs in the second collection is Hank’s spiritual side. It was a large part of his musical repertoire either performing those as himself, or using the name “Luke The Drifter.”

Since these performances were taken from the Mother’s Best shows, they were done as Hank Williams. Not only are there songs with a higher meaning: “Where He Leads Me,” “The Prodigal Son,” and “The Old Country Church” but of course there are also some fun ditties like “Cherokee Boogie” and old standbys like “I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still In Love With You).”This recording of “Cool Water” has been the best one I’ve ever heard. The vocals have so much depth that haven’t been captured as well as in the Mother’s Best show version. It certainly warrants multiple listens.

An interesting fact about the song “Seaman’s Blues” is that a Mr. Tubb wrote it. No, not Ernest, but his nephew Talmadge.

“When The Fire Comes Down” features Don Helms and Cedric Rainwater singing background vocals on this song that uses past tragedies to emphasize just how things will be when the whole world melts away during Revelation.

Hank and the boys gather around to close disc two with a hymn entitled “Lonely Tombs.”

Disc 3:

Speaking of “Luke The Drifter,” disc three starts out with “Pictures From Life’s Other Side,” which was narrated by Hank’s “alter-ego” on the original June 1951 recording. This is a mighty fine version too. The song itself was written by Charles E. Baer, but the final verse (with mention of Korea) was, in fact, written by Hank.

“I’ll Fly Away” has been a standard in the circle of Country Music for so long, it might be unbelievable to learn it was written in 1936. Hank really does the Albert Brumley-penned tune justice.

Some more “obscure” songs are in this group of eighteen tracks, along with Hank’s version of “When The Saints Go Marchin’ In.” What’s interesting about this version is that it’s completely different than the “jazzy” sounds that have found their way into my memory. To hear it as a Country Music / Gospel sounding song performed by Hank Williams puts a smile on my face. Another song that puts a smile on my face is “Mind Your Own Business.” The introduction by Hank is enough to make anyone chuckle as he calls it a “Masterpiece of nonsense” before saying that many folks request it for others, but never really for themselves.As for the obscure songs, “You Blotted My Happy Schooldays” fits the bill. It’s not a song that everybody knows, but for some reason it stuck into Hank’s mind and he performed it for one of his many weekly programs.

Though I’ve tried to focus on different aspects of the individual discs in this collection, they all have common threads that bind them together. Each one has a good amount of Hank originals, gospel, and other songs that might surprise the listener. Not only is the sound quality so rich compared to other recordings from that time period, but being able to hear more of the live energy from the Mother’s Best shows is a wonderful way to remember Hank Williams.

he Unreleased Recordings Track List:

Disc 1:

  1. Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain
  2. Dust On The Bible
  3. I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry
  4. I Heard My Savior Calling Me
  5. Precious Lord, Take My Hand
  6. Hey, Good Lookin’
  7. On Top Of Old Smoky
  8. I Can’t Tell My Heart That
  9. I Dreamed That the Great Judgement Morning
  10. Next Sunday Darling Is My Birthday
  11. At The First Fall Of Snow
  12. Dear John
  13. The Blind Child’s Prayer
  14. I’ll Have A New Life
  15. On The Banks Of The Pontchartrain
  16. Low And Lonely
  17. Drifting Too Far From The Shore
  18. I’m Gonna Sing

Disc 2:

  1. I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still In Love With You)
  2. Seaman’s Blues
  3. The Prodigal Son
  4. Cherokee Boogie
  5. Where He Leads Me
  6. From Jerusalem to Jericho
  7. Cool Water
  8. I’ve Got My One Way Ticket To The Sky
  9. Searching For A Soldier’s Grave
  10. California Zephyr
  11. Softly And Tenderly
  12. Just When I Needed You
  13. Gathering Flowers For The Master’s Bouquet
  14. Why Should We Try Anymore
  15. The Old Country Church
  16. May You Never Be Alone
  17. When The Fire Comes Down
  18. Lonely Tombs

Disc 3:

  1. Pictures From Life’s Other Side
  2. I’ll Fly Away
  3. Cold, Cold Heart
  4. Have I Told You Lately That I Love You
  5. When God Dips His Love In My Heart
  6. Thy Burdens Are Greater Than Mine
  7. When The Saints Go Marching In
  8. I’ll Sail My Ship Alone
  9. Wedding Bells
  10. Mind Your Own Business
  11. You Blotted My Happy Schooldays
  12. Where The Soul Never Dies
  13. Pins And Needles (In My Heart)
  14. Tennessee Border
  15. There’s Nothing As Sweet As My Baby
  16. Wait For The Light To Shine
  17. If I Didn’t Love You
  18. The Pale Horse And His Rider

 

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December 3, 2009 - Posted by | 1

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