Hank Williams

Ultimate Collection [Mercury/UTV]

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Mercury/UTV Records' 2002 release The Ultimate Collection does not follow a strict chronological running order over the course of 42 songs and two discs, but that's not a problem since the sequencing flows easily and is logical to the ear. Besides, the other "best introduction/summary" to Hank Williams -- 1978's 40 Greatest Hits -- didn't run chronologically, either. That collection is still the best choice for an introduction, even if it doesn't have the remastered sound this boasts, because it has a better song selection. True, all of the stone-cold essentials are here, but there are many songs that really should have been here -- "My Son Calls Another Man Daddy," "Nobody's Lonesome for Me," "Dear John," "Baby, We're Really in Love," for instance -- yet aren't since the compilers favor a slight revisionist bent that will appeal to alt-country fans (more gloom and doom, not as much fun). It should be noted that this complaint is a minor one, applicable to those who already have a lot of Williams, and, overall, this is an excellent summary of his greatest work, one that will satisfy most listeners, or will convert those who have yet to realize why Hank is a legend.

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