Thursday, February 20, 2014

Hank Williams - The Ultimate Collection

As I listen more and more I think I have come to the conclusion that Hank Williams was the greatest country
songwriter of all time! Of course, I am a fan of the raw, early country music, where Americana and bluegrass melded to make this new genre. Hank's memorable tunes are part of the American lexicon these days and rightfully so - lyrics that were easy to relate to, super catchy melodies and some great playing, especially by the tastefully terrific steel player, Don Helms. This 2 CD collection has all the hits and lots more, as well as a wonderful DVD documentary with some rare footage, as well as interviews with his son, grandson and last wife.

It is amazing just how many classic tunes this man wrote - "I Saw the Light", "Mansion on the Hill", "Honky Tonkin'", "Move It On Over", "Mind Your Own Business", "Cold, Cold Heart", "Hey Good Lookin'", "Ramblin' Man", "Your Cheatin' Heart", "Jambalya" and tons more. These are all included here, as well as many lessor known numbers - though no less great. There are also tracks recorded as Luke the Drifter, where Hank would do recitations/sermons that the record company didn't think would be profitable as "Hank Williams" releases - "I Dreamed About Mama Last Night" being a stand-out among these.

Calling anything an "ultimate collection" is setting yourself up for criticism - there are some complaints that some hits here are live and not studio versions, and there is a 10-CD collection that supposedly contains everything the man ever recorded - but this is a pretty damn superb starting point for anyone. Again, mine is a library copy that is missing the booklet that comes with this, so I can't comment on that portion, but overall, a great package!