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Hank Williams

Hank Williams Revealed: The Unreleased Recordings (Time Life)

Feb. 23, 2010
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As a performer and composer of country songs, Hank Williams had absolute, rock-solid consistency. Williams’ writing credentials have never been in question, and with Hank Williams Revealed—the second three-CD set of songs intended for one-time radio broadcast—Williams’ abilities as a performer can be more carefully examined.

These recordings may be viewed as the Rosetta stone of Southern music, for here Williams performs hard country, ballads, gospel & hymns, lighthearted novelty numbers and several of his own Luke the Drifter recitations. The music on this set provides an aural overview of influences reaching back to earlier centuries and other shores. The remarks from Hank and the band provide a fascinating cultural picture of mid-century life in the American South.

Thankfully, the Williams estate has again entrusted these sought-after recordings to Colin Escott, who logically sequences the material and includes an appropriate amount of between-song conversation. Escott also offers detailed annotations for each selection, tracing song roots and recording variants. For completists, three unedited “Mother’s Best” radio programs are included, showcasing the skills of sideman Jerry Rivers on fiddle and Williams in the role of product pitchman.

Like an impossible gift from a parallel universe, Revealed includes startlingly crisp sound on new performances of Williams’ well-known songs and numerous selections that he never recorded commercially. Were I not holding it in my own hands, I would not believe this collection could exist.


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