Like 1999's tribute to Gram Parsons, Return of the Grievous Angel, this successful collection revives the tired "tribute" concept and applies it in homage to a key figure in country music. Interpreting songs from across Hank Williams's short and troubled career, a range of high-profile artists use different approaches with equally gratifying results. Tom Petty, Sheryl Crow, and Hank Williams III play familiar songs with traditional arrangements (Ms. Crow's yodel is an eye opener); Beck, Mark Knopfler, and Keb' Mo' stay closer to their own idioms. Keith Richards's reedy vocal makes "You Win Again" all his own, and Bob Dylan, who has only rarely lent his services to these sorts of projects, leads his touring band through a blues shuffle on "I Can't Get You Off of My Mind." The estimable Lost Highway label has assembled an illustrious cast to sing the praises of the artist who inspired its name, and in doing so it has created a far better testament to its musical mindset than can ever be captured in the term Americana.
To be fair, the title of The Complete Hank Williams, Jr. is disingenuous, since three discs are hardly enough space to cover his complete recordings or even his complete recordings for Curb Records. So, forget the title and concentrate on the music, which is a distillation of his decade-long stint at Curb. Granted, these ten years found Williams coasting to a certain extent, relying more on his superstar status than pushing his music forward, but that doesn't mean that the music itself is weak. There are a few cuts that don't quite measure up with the best of his work, but there's little arguing that the compilers have done an excellent job of rounding up the highlights from these uneven years, resulting in an exhaustive survey of Williams' latter-day work that will be useful for fans that want to dig deep yet don't want to invest in his entire catalog.
In 1998, BGO released Del Shannon Sings Hank Williams/One Thousand Six-Hundred Sixty-One Seconds of Del Shannon, combining his last two albums for the Amy label on one CD. The two are rather different records conceptually; one devoted to the work of a single composer, while the other shows Shannon covering many of the hits of the day in its own style, as well as presenting his version of an original - "I Go to Pieces," which was a hit in the hands of Peter & Gordon - is linked to Shannon's version by some of the backing musicians he uses, as well as the chronology, and the CD also constitutes a pretty strong display of Shannon's range as a performer and recording artist, encompassing everyone from Hank Williams to the Four Seasons with astonishing consistency.
A collection of four 5-track EPs from Hunter and Amendola, each focusing on the music of a particular artist or act. The project opens with ingenious distillations of Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn gems such as “Rockin’ In Rhythm,” “Daydream” and “Mood Indigo.” From Cole Porter’s songbook, they interpret standards, including “Too Darn Hot,” “Every Time We Say Goodbye” and “Anything Goes.” Country music and jazz are often cast as antithetical styles, but the truth is far more complicated.
Considering the seismic impact Hank Williams had on country music, it's remarkable to think that his recording career lasted a mere six years – he signed with MGM Records in early 1947, and was found dead in the back of his Cadillac en route to a gig on the first day of 1953. Williams was a prolific recording artist during that period, cutting an impressive 68 singles in addition to appearing as a regular guest on WSM's weekly Grand Ole Opry broadcast from Nashville and maintaining a punishing schedule of personal appearances.
1951 was a breakthrough year for Hank Williams. He had a string of moderate country hits already under his belt, but the release that year of his version of an old jazz age novelty tune called "Lovesick Blues," originally recorded in 1922 by Elsie Clark and given a country arrangement in 1939 by Rex Griffin (the template for Williams' version), suddenly made him a big star. It also meant his touring schedule increased, but he still found time that year to slip into Nashville and prerecord shows for the Mother's Best Flour Company.
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.
It's About Time is a studio album by Hank Williams Jr. released by Nash Icon Records on January 15, 2016. The album includes re-recordings of previously released material and new songs. The album debuted at No. 2 on Top Country Albums, the highest he's reached on the chart since the release of Lone Wolf in 1990. The album also debuted at No. 15 on Billboard 200, selling 24,000 copies in its first week. It sold a further 9,000 copies in its second week. The album has sold 60,800 copies in the US as of March 2016.