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New Release: The Historic 143 Song Hank Williams Box Set Out October 28th
Fairfax, VA -- The most highly anticipated project of 2008, Hank Williams The Unreleased Recordings, will hit retail stores on Tuesday, October 28th. The first installment showcases fifty-four of the 143 recordings of Williams' performances on the 1951 WSM radio show sponsored by Mother Best's Flour. The additional eighty-nine songs will be released in separate installments during the next three years, with fans getting to hear Hank as never before.
The first installment features Hank Williams performing exciting, new versions of his classic hits including, "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," "Cold, Cold Heart," and "Hey, Good Lookin'," as well as songs he never recorded commercially including, "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain," "Cherokee Boogie," and "Cool Water." On the CDs, Williams gives some insight about the songs and with "On Top of Old Smoky," he explains this was a song he learned from his grandmother singing it in the original, mournful Appalachian style instead of the more upbeat version of the 1951 radio hit and campfire singalong. The project gives the listener an intimate experience with Williams that has never been possible before. It's almost like inviting Williams into your living room and getting a rare snapshot of who he was in 1951.
Cover artMedia has enthusiastically embraced the project with upcoming coverage in Newsweek, People magazine, AARP magazine, National Pubic Radio/Weekend Edition Saturday with Scott Simon, Rolling Stone, Los Angeles Times, Tennessean, New York Daily News, New York Times, Hits magazine, Alternative Press, Philadelphia Inquirer, CMT Insider, CMT.com, GAC/Master Series, Country Weekly, to name a few.
"This is a once in a lifetime event in music history," says Mike Jason, Time Life, Senior Vice President, Audio & Video Retail. "We have the unique opportunity to present deeply personal, never before available, high quality recordings from the father of Country music, Hank Williams.
The fact that the music survived all these years, despite almost being lost a few times, makes our ability to share them all the more gratifying. When we have released all the songs, Hank's available catalog of work will be increased by 50%."
"These recordings are such a great snapshot of my dad, Hank Williams," says his daughter, Jett Williams. "It shows his personality and the great sense of humor he had and spotlights him singing his classics during one take in a radio studio. For fans, it will be like a trip back to 1951 and a chance for them, and me, to really get to know the total man that was country music's first superstar."
In 1951, Williams was at the pinnacle of his career as several top pop vocalists, including Tony Bennett and Perry Como, covered his mega-hit, "Cold, Cold Heart." He also appeared on major national television shows including The Perry Como Show and the last great medicine show, the Hadacol Caravan, where he topped the bill over Bob Hope and Milton Berle. Those appearances transformed Williams from a regional Country artist into a national super-star. Since his death in 1953, Williams has risen in popularity to become one of most iconic figures in all of American music.
Time Life and the Time Life logo are registered trademarks of Time Warner Inc. and affiliated companies, used under license by Direct Holdings Americas Inc., which is not affiliated with Time Warner Inc. or Time Inc. Headquartered in Fairfax VA, Direct Holdings Americas Inc.'s history began in 1961 as a direct marketing division of Time Incorporated specializing in music and books. The business has been operated as a separate company since the mid-1970s when it relocated to Virginia, and has since grown to become one of the world's largest direct marketers of audio and video products throughout North America, Europe and Australia. The Company has set the standard in the direct response industry by pioneering direct marketing techniques and building one of the most trusted and recognized brands in commerce. The Company now also sells its products through major traditional and non-traditional retailers around the world as well as via the Internet. The Company was sold in 2003 to private investors.
'Unreleased Recordings' offer glimpses of Hank Williams, the musician and the man
By Peter Cooper - THE TENNESSEAN - October 26, 2008
In early 1981, 26-year-old Alan Stoker applied soap and water to some lacquer-coated, 16-inch aluminum discs.
And then three decades fell away, as Stoker transferred the material on the discs to reel-to-reel tape. Country music's most famous voice - a voice that had been silenced at age 29, somewhere on a dark road north of Knoxville and south of Oak Hill, W.Va. - burst through speakers and filled the room.
There, inside the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on Music Row, Stoker raised the hillbilly Atlantis, in the form of Hank Williams' "Mother's Best" recordings.
"I had in my mind this image of Hank Williams as a great singer and songwriter, but also as a dark and morose person," said Stoker, now the recorded-sound and moving-image curator at the hall, which moved downtown in 2001. "But on these recordings, which I had never heard before, I was struck by the warmth of his voice and the apparent warmth of his personality. He had a great laugh."
More than a quarter-century later, and more than 50 years since Williams and his Drifting Cowboys recorded radio shows sponsored by Mother's Best Flour and aired on WSM-AM 650, listeners can hear what Stoker heard in 1981. Williams' 143 performances were recorded onto "acetates," which are discs meant to be played only a few times. After airing, the acetates were bound for the WSM Dumpster but were rescued by photographer Les Leverett. The shutterbug held on to the acetates for many years, though Hall of Fame acquisitions director Bob Pinson talked Leverett into bringing them in so that Stoker could do a transfer in 1981.
A record company attempted to release the recordings, complete with overdubbed instruments, but the Williams estate - daughter Jett Williams and son Hank Williams Jr. - fought an eight-year court battle to secure the rights. In 2006, Tennessee's Court of Appeals ruled that the estate owned the performances. Jett Williams and husband/lawyer F. Keith Adkinson negotiated a deal with Time Life, and soon Stoker was back at work. This time, he was "baking" the reels to remove moisture, then transferring the reels onto a computer hard drive.
"Some people assume that since these were recorded in 1951, that they'll sound grainy," Jett Williams said. "But the recordings are fabulous, and it actually sounds better than his master recordings for MGM. It's not some old, scratchy radio show. It sounds like he's in your living room, singing to you."
He was not, of course, in a living room. He was at WSM's Nashville studio, pre-recording shows with his Drifting Cowboys since their touring schedule in 1951 didn't allow them to be in Nashville enough to cut the daily live shows. The shows were cut live to acetate, though, without fixes or massaging.
"He's singing live, like his life depended on it," Jett Williams said. "You can hear people move, or clear their throats. And you also hear him talk and tell jokes. My father died very young, and I didn't know him. So here, I hear his wit and his personality. For me, I get a chance to meet my daddy, and to hear the real human being who was Hank Williams."
The first 54 Mother's Best performances will be released to retail stores on Tuesday, in a three-disc set called Hank Williams: The Unreleased Recordings. The other 89 songs will be released over the next three years. The initial set includes live versions of hits such as "I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love With You)" and "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," and obscurities like "You Blotted My Happy Schooldays" and "When the Fire Comes Down."
To Rolling Stone's David Fricke, The Unreleased Recordings - Hank Williams at the peak of his powers, transported, soaped, baked, litigated and transformed into the new digital century - are "as electrifying as Johnny Cash's '60s prison shows or Bob Dylan's early acoustic concerts." For his children, for a Hall of Fame curator and for those who care about such things, it's a smile from the grave.
Reach Peter Cooper at 615-259-8220 or email@example.com.
Hank Williams 'Complete Mother’s Best Recordings… Plus!' due in September
Those who figured the two recent box sets of Hank Williams’ “Mother’s Best” recordings represented the mother lode of Williams’ work were only partially correct.
Those box sets will be combined into one massive collector's box, with 15 audio discs featuring pristinely recorded songs and conversation, a DVD which features interviews with band member Don Helms and opening act Big Bill Lister and over 100 pages of liner notes from historian Colin Escott.
Set for a September 28 release, Hank Williams Complete Mother’s Best Recordings… Plus! will be packaged in an antique working radio that will play Williams’ songs when the dial is pressed.
For more on the set, visit hankwilliamsmothersbest.com.