In 1951, Hank Williams — one of the finest songwriters the USA has ever produced — shilled shamelessly for Mother’s Best, a Northern Alabama flour company. And thank the good lord he did. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have this treasure trove of radio broadcasts, miraculously preserved on acetate, a collection of 142 time capsule performances that can be counted among Williams’ best.
Many of these recordings have been released in smaller sized sets over the past several years, but this 15-disc box presents every last note available, from such well-loved favorites as “Cold Cold Heart,” and “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” to rarities like “Lonely Tombs” and “Cherokee Boogie.” Williams’ voice cuts through the decades like a freshly sharpened blade.
The gospel material sprinkled throughout is particularly strong — though who knows what listeners tuning in thought of the hallucinatory, Book of Revelations imagery of “I Dreamed That the Great Judgement Morning” or the terrifying Grim Reaper vibes of “The Pale Horse and His Rider.” We also get to hear tunes from Audrey Williams, Don Helms and Big Bill Lister, “the world’s tallest singing cowboy,” not to mention all the between-song banter — Hank even offers to personally refund any dissatisfied Mother’s Best customers. What a nice guy. A deep dive into this indispensable material will leave you with a new appreciation of Williams’ art … and probably a hankering for a mess of fresh-baked corn biscuits. words / t wilcox