Real Country Music
The Complete Mother’s Best Recordings ….Plus
Disc One: January 10-16, 1951, Disc Two: January 17-23, 1951, Disc Three: January 24-30, 1951, Disc Four: January, 31- February 7, 1951, Disc Five: February 12-20, 1951, Disc Six: February 21-March 1951, Disc Seven: March-April, 1951, Disc Eight: Probably May 1951, Disc Nine: Probably 1951, Disc Ten: Spring –July 1951, Disc Eleven: Fall-Mid October 1951, Disc Twelve: Fall-October 1951, Disc Thirteen: October-Fall 1951, Disc Fourteen: Fall-November 1951, Disc Fifteen: Spring 1952
Bonus: DVD-An Interview with Don Helms, Big Bill Lister and WSM Engineer Glenn Snoddy
Originally Engineered Live at WSM Studios
Approximate Run Time 18:75:00 not including DVD
Almost fifty years have gone by since his passing, but his mark on the world has never faded. In fact, with this set adding to his catalogue by almost fifty percent, Hank’s stature should only loom larger.
This collection of live fifteen minute radio shows sponsored by Mother’s Best Flour offer us a listening experience unlike anything else available. Jett Williams, in the liner notes, may have put it best, “So meet the father I never met but now know so well through these recordings.”
Every time I have any of the discs in the player, I stop and listen in complete awe. It is unmistakably Hank but there is more of a raw unadulterated feel to the proceedings that can leave you spent. Signature tunes become even stronger in this setting. Cold Cold Heart comes across even more sincere. Move It On Over becomes a bit edgier.
Much has been made of there being two sides to the man. A listen to this set tells you without a doubt there was only one. You may have already felt that Hank could bring words to life in song more vividly than anyone before or since. But an achingly open person emerges in the in-turn sad, humorous, sweet, and religious tracks.
Life itself is messy, it is neither good, nor bad, it just is. Artists rarely attempt to capture the sadness in a smile, the hope in a burden, or and the bliss in failure. And even fewer succeed. Those that do may do so seemingly effortlessly. Regardless, Hank was working at a different level.
Tom Russell in his Death of Jimmy Martin sings of how Hank Williams sang with his “tongue on fire”. The great Owen Bradley remarked that Hank “sang every song like as if his life depended on it.” If you were unsure before, buy this collection and find what quotes like these mean. There was one and only one Hank.
Of course his signature sound was also brought by the playing of the “Original” Drifting Cowboys. All of which are found on most of the tracks. Listening to Don Helms (steel guitar), Sammy Pruett (guitar), Howard Watts aka Cedric Rainwater (bass) and Jerry Rivers (fiddle) playing behind Hank, you can hear the musicians finding their stride. Of course, later in 1951, Hank disbanded the group. Several of the original made a few more appearances with Hank, but the entire lineup never backed Hank again.
A bonus comes in the insight found in appearances by Hank’s wife, Audrey, in several shows. I’ll let Colin Escott’s remarks found in the notes stand as a comment on Aubrey’s performances. He states, “As these shows demonstrate, her talent fell short of her ambition.” However, it is clear in listening and knowing a bit of their story that her drive was a crucial factor in Hank’s success.
So….here in this set you have performances by Hank with his best band playing at the top of their game and are allowed to gain insight into the man, his music, and his relationships. But wait there is more….the set comes in a box resembling a radio of the era and actually plays the intro used for these shows.
A must have? If there is one, this may well just be it. That is, if you truly want insight like no other into a man and sound like no other. But do be warned, as the contents should indicate, the set is quite pricey.