Hank Snow

Tales of the Yukon

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Hank Snow isn't generally thought of as a spoken word artist, but the Singing Ranger did dabble in dramatic readings during the course of a recording career that spanned four decades; Snow recorded the album Old Doc Brown and Other Narrations in 1955, and cut his best-known spoken album, Tales of the Yukon, in 1968. Proud Canadian Snow doubtless felt an affinity for the narrative poems of Robert William Service, who earned international fame for his rough-hewn but often sentimental tales of men in the Northern territories, and here Snow recites seven of Service's works (along with "The Face on the Barroom Floor," often attributed to Service but actually penned by Hugh Antoine d'Arcy), accompanied by minimal, unobtrusive musical backings. Snow recites Service's yarns with genuine gusto and shows a real feel for the material; if he's not quite a great actor, he knows the strengths of this material and he has a sense of drama that brings "The Cremation of Sam McGee" and "The Ballad of Hard Luck Henry" to life. And while Snow seems to understand the flashes of humor in these poems, he isn't afraid to serve up their melodramatic side at face value, and the readings are clever, thoughtful, and effective. Tales of the Yukon is an interesting curio for fans of Hank Snow, and folks with a fondness for Robert William Service's stories of rugged lives in Northern Canada should enjoy this immensely.

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