Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Hank Williams Wall Street Journal

Country CDs With Legs

Recordings and reissues in 2008 that are likely to last

[Country CDs With Legs]

With the many "best" lists out this time of year, I thought I'd up the ante a little and suggest a short list of new country releases and historic issues and reissues that seem most likely to last. As with all lists in this genre, there's that "What do you mean by country?" question to clarify. In this case, it means CDs released as country, unquestionably for the country audience. If this set does not include such strong close-to-country releases as Shelby Lynne's smart, soulful Dusty Springfield salute, "Just a Little Lovin'," Glenn Campbell's touching country-pop tinged turn on modern rock, "Meet Glen Campbell," or the memorable shaggy-dog ballads of Hayes Carll's "Trouble in Mind," that's why.


Hank Williams
"The Unreleased Recordings"
Time-Life, $39.98

These live radio performances from Hank's early morning "Mother's Best Flour" shows of 1950-51 were held out of circulation for years, due to litigation, and now emerge in this boxed set as among the strongest Williams performances on record -- startling in their immediacy and sound quality, and showing a relaxed, teasing Hank who's more a singer of hymns and his favorite standards ("Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain," "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You") than a doomed, star-crossed icon. That's priceless.

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