The two best-known -- and, by most measures, the best -- Hank Thompson albums are combined on this 2014 Omni reissue, supplemented by a few bonus tracks culled from the late '60s. Songs for Rounders exists at a nifty crossroad between honky tonk and Western swing, featuring Thompson scaling back his big band ever so slightly and tackling hard-driving saloon songs, which gives this a real edge -- an edge that is palpable throughout the LP and also surfaces on At the Golden Nugget, which is the first live country album of note. The two showcase Thompson perhaps at his wildest: a big-hearted, rowdy bandleader with a taste for bawdy material and a jovial, bawdy delivery that still sounds ribald years later, while the Brazos Valley Boys play expertly, goosing Thompson toward livelier heights and sounding vicious on their own terms. The Brazos Valley Boys are tremendous in their own right but on these two LPs Thompson is a marvel, corralling this big band and making it sound as nimble as a juke joint quartet. Anybody who thinks Thompson is just a sweet singer should turn to this two-fer, which is as robust as country music got between Hank Williams and outlaw country.
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