Hank Williams

Rockin' Chair Money

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Review

Although Hank Williams' position in the country music canon is more than assured, the actual state of his recorded legacy has been a bit of a confusing mess, with countless compilations flooding the market: some contain original singles, some contain glorified demos, some have overdubs -- even whole orchestras -- added, some are radio transcriptions, and some of these, again, have had overdubs added. It's confusing, and it doesn't serve Williams that well at times. He has ended up being one of those recording artists who released as much "new" material after his death (in 1953) as he released before it. MGM was in a bit of a bind when Williams died because they only had maybe five unreleased Williams tracks still left in the bank, but the label quickly discovered the world of radio transcriptions and the many songs Williams had sung live, usually solo with guitar, for the Johnny Fair Syrup radio show. Adding in demos Williams had done as part of his Acuff-Rose publishing deal, MGM had a lot of material to work with, even if the recording quality wasn't always up to snuff. The label began doing overdubs, bringing in Williams' band, the Drifting Cowboys, to fill things out on a number of these recordings. Other times strings were piled on, or electric guitars, which led to a seemingly endless string of Hank Williams collections mixed and matched in a variety of ways. This generous 33-track collection from Bear Family Records wades into all of this and delivers a concise template for the MGM years. Several of Williams' singles are here in the original versions, along with Acuff-Rose demos and Johnny Fair Syrup radio transcriptions. With release dates listed from 1947 to 1961, it illuminates the story of a troubled but brilliant artist and his at times reticent, at other times eager -- and ultimately desperate -- record label. ~ Steve Leggett, Rovi

Influenced By Hank Williams

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