Hank Williams

Legendary Country Singers

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There is no shortage of good (and even great) Hank Williams collections out there on CD, not only from Polygram and Universal (the successors to MGM Records, to which Williams was signed), but also from their licensees. Such is the case with this 1994 CD collection, a joint production of Time-Life and the Country Music Hall of Fame, containing 25 songs in a very handsome and well-put-together package. In terms of content and overall quality, it's a match for any of the extant 21st century compilations of Williams' work -- all of the hits and the most important songs are here, and the sound quality is impeccable; not quite at the extreme levels of clarity achieved with 24-bit/96khz digital in more recent years, but more than good enough for most listeners. Not only the songs and the singing, but the general musicianship shines through, and far better than it ever did on vinyl (especially those old MGM pressings...). And the handsomely illustrated booklet contains a thorough (and thoroughly entertaining) annotation by Chares K. Wolfe. The latter enhances an exceptionally potent 66 minutes of listening that doesn't have any weak (or even slack) points, only a string of classic lyrics, moments, melodies, phrases, and phrasings, all so basic and so powerful that it stands unique -- and almost separate -- from the modern country music genre that it spawned. [This collection was re-released directly through Universal in 2002].

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