Ever since Hank Williams died on December 31, 1952, his fans have had to make do with commercial recordings, which have been almost continuously re-mixed, re-mastered, and repackaged by MGM and Mercury. But occasionally, once in a blue moon, William’s aficionados have been surprised by “newly discovered” recorded material. Most has been from radio shows or song demos. Alone With His Guitar is made up of just such “new” material.
Nine of the 18 cuts on this disc weren’t available on a CD before Mercury’s epic Grammy-winning 10-disc box set, The Complete Hank Williams. For folks who don’t want to shell out big bucks for the humongus box, Alone is a much less expensive way to possess these intimate and important recordings.
Not only is the music special, but the packaging and booklet are of equally high quality. Liner notes by William Gay (recent recipient of the William Michner Memorial prize) are entertaining and insightful. Additional notes by co-producer Colin Escott supply all the details needed to understand these recordings within their historical context.
Sound quality is certainly not up to current squeaky-clean Nashville digital standards, but it is good enough so that on a decent sound system you will hear all the nuances of Hank’s vocal delivery and simple guitar work. It is my journalistic duty to warn you that even if you buy this CD, your appetite for Hank Williams will probably not be sated. As a matter of fact, Alone may actually increase your desire to have his complete recordings.
Perhaps you should save yourself the mental anguish and just break down and buy The Complete Hank Williams at the git-go. That’s what I did.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Dec. ’00 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.