Big Bill Lister's importance in the annals of country music stems more from his association with Hank Williams than his music. One of Williams' closest friends, Lister recorded Williams' composition "There's a Tear in My Beer" in 1952. Lister then made country music history decades later by rediscovering Williams' original acetate demo of the song and giving it to Hank Williams, Jr. who overdubbed the track to produce a 1989 hit. There's a Tear in My Beer compiles Lister's early-'50s Capitol recordings along with some early independent label tracks, most of which are country weepers and honky tonkers. Lister's voice resembles a whiny Ernest Tubb and becomes grating over the course of a full-length disc; his vocals are more bearable on the up-tempo numbers, of which there are far too few among these 30 tracks. There's a Tear in My Beer is an historical artifact for serious Hank Williams fans who will appreciate the opportunity to hear these recordings, but the actual listening value of the collection is slight.
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