Unreleased Recordings

Unreleased Recordings

4.6 15
by Hank Williams

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…  See more details below


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. Given Williams' overloaded agenda, it's hard to imagine why he'd agree to also host an early-morning radio show five days a week, but starting in January 1951, he did just that, performing from 7:15 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. every Monday through Friday on WSM, sponsored by Mother's Best Flour. The show lasted for 15 weeks, and since Williams was frequently out on the road and unable to make it into the studio for live broadcasts, he recorded most of the Mother's Best programs in advance. Thankfully, a Williams fan at WSM had the presence of mind to save the transcription discs of the Mother's Best shows when they were in danger of being thrown away, and after years of legal wrangling over the rights to the recordings, the Hank Williams estate has finally arranged for an authorized release of this material. The Unreleased Recordings is a three-disc set that features 54 songs from the Mother's Best broadcasts, and for serious Hank Williams fans this collection was well worth the wait. The quality of the recordings is usually as good as his studio sessions of the period and often better, with Williams' vocals frequently sounding stronger and more resonant than on his singles, and the performances are strong but casual at the same time. For these shows, Williams and his band the Drifting Cowboys usually worked out the set lists on the fly, and it's said that the bandmembers often found themselves playing tunes they'd never formally rehearsed for the radio audience. But despite all that, the musicians follow Williams with skill and confidence, and the emotional force of Williams' vocals is an impressive thing to hear. Though a number of Williams' greatest hits are on the song list (sometimes before they were recorded for mass consumption), some of the most remarkable moments come when he pulls classic country and gospel favorites from the songbook: "On Top of Old Smokey" and "Cool Water" are given unexpectedly powerful and dramatic readings; "Cherokee Boogie" and "Tennessee Border" sound enthusiastic and energetic in the hands of the Drifting Cowboys; and white gospel classics like "Softly and Tenderly," "Dust on the Bible," and "I'll Fly Away" are delivered with genuine fervor, as Williams and his band join their voices together for some stellar harmonies. Given how Hank Williams' body of work has been extensively recycled and repackaged in the 50-plus years since his passing, the discovery of a cache of unheard Williams sessions would be good news even under the least favorable circumstances, but The Unreleased Recordings presents the country legend not only in fine form, but essaying some unexpected material with heart, soul, and savvy; it won't replace the man's essential catalog, but it certainly brings a welcome new perspective to his music as well as his influences.

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Editorial Reviews

Rolling Stone - David Fricke
1/2 The 54 performances in this three-CD set pack a magical, concentrated immediacy that is, in its time and way, as electrifying as Johnny Cash's Sixties prison shows or Bob Dylan's early acoustic concerts.
The Guardian
The 72 Nashville radio shows that Hank recorded in 1951 are the Da Vinci Code of country; known to cognoscenti, tantalisingly elusive for seekers. After years of legal wrangling, this first instalment of 54 songs proves worth the wait. Hank croons, moans, yips and, best of all, talks – the man that emerges is complex, but far from the pitful soul so often painted.

Product Details

Release Date:
Time Life Records

Related Subjects


Disc 1

  1. Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain
  2. Dust on the Bible
  3. I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry
  4. I Heard My Savior Calling Me
  5. Precious Lord, Take My Hand
  6. Hey, Good Lookin'
  7. On Top of Old Smokey
  8. I Can't Tell My Heart That
  9. I Dreamed That the Great Judgement Morning
  10. Next Sunday Darling Is My Birthday
  11. At the First Fall of Snow
  12. Dear John
  13. The Blind Child's Prayer
  14. I'll Have a New Life
  15. On the Banks of the Pontchartrain
  16. Low and Lonely
  17. Drifting Too Far from the Shore
  18. I'm Gonna Sing

Disc 2

  1. I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love with You)
  2. Seaman's Blues
  3. The Prodigal Son
  4. Cherokee Boogie
  5. Where He Leads Me
  6. From Jerusalem to Jericho
  7. Cool Water
  8. I've Got My One-Way Ticket to the Sky
  9. Searching for a Soldier's Grave
  10. California Zephyr
  11. Softly and Tenderly
  12. Just When I Needed You
  13. Gathering Flowers for the Master's Bouquet
  14. Why Should We Try Any More
  15. The Old Country Church
  16. May You Never Be Alone
  17. When the Fire Comes Down
  18. Lonely Tombs

Disc 3

  1. Pictures from Life's Other Side
  2. I'll Fly Away
  3. Cold, Cold Heart
  4. Have I Told You Lately That I Love You
  5. When God Dips His Love in My Heart
  6. Thy Burdens Are Greater Than Mine
  7. When the Saints Go Marchin' In
  8. I'll Sail My Ship Alone
  9. Wedding Bells
  10. Mind Your Own Business
  11. You Blotted My Happy Schooldays
  12. Where the Soul Never Dies
  13. Pins and Needles (In My Heart)
  14. Tennessee Border
  15. There's Nothing as Sweet as My Baby
  16. Wait for the Light to Shine
  17. If I Didn't Love You
  18. The Pale Horse and His Rider

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Hank Williams   Primary Artist,Guitar,Vocals
Audrey Williams   Background Vocals
Jerry Rivers   Fiddle
Howard Watts   Bass Guitar
Samuel K. "Sammy" Pruett   Guitar
Cousin Louie Buck   Spoken Word

Technical Credits

Roy Acuff   Composer
Moon Mullican   Composer
Tex Ritter   Composer
Clyde Moody   Composer
Ernest Tubb   Composer
Johnnie Wright   Composer
Rick Vincent   Composer
Colin Escott   Liner Notes,Reissue Producer,Photo Courtesy
William Lee Golden   Composer
Fred Rose   Composer
Hank Williams   Composer
Kay Williams   Photo Courtesy
Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey   Composer
Jack Anglin   Composer
Walter Bailes   Composer
Zeke Clements   Composer
Bob Nolan   Composer
Jimmy Work   Composer
Jett Williams   Liner Notes,Executive Producer,Author,Source Material,Photo Courtesy
Leverett   Photo Courtesy
Ervin Staggs   Composer
Scotty Wiseman   Composer
Cleavant Derricks   Composer
A. Brumley   Composer
A. Smith   Composer
Ron Stewart   Composer
Traditional   Composer
Mike Jason   Executive Producer
Lisa Marie Presley   Composer
Floyd Jenkins   Composer
Olivia Kim   Editorial Research
Will L. Thompson   Composer
F. Keith Adkinson   Executive Producer,Author,Source Material
Ken Campanile   Photo Courtesy
W.M. Robinson   Composer
T. Harrell   Composer
S. Nathan   Composer
P.W. King   Composer
P. Kinsey   Composer
M. Estes   Composer
M.D. Wright   Composer
Marvin Baungardner   Composer
L. Messer   Composer
L.L. Pickett   Composer
L. Fields   Composer
J.W. Fowler   Composer
Johnny Bailes   Composer
I. Mercer   Composer
H. Thurston   Composer
E. Blandy   Composer
C. Boone   Composer
C. Baer   Composer
B. Shadduck   Composer
A.A. Gass   Composer
Art Brumley   Composer
Chief William Redbird   Composer
H. Bernard   Composer
C. Baum   Composer
M. Burns   Composer
J. Ellis   Composer
J. Vaughan   Composer
John Norris   Composer
Alicia J. Rose   Composer

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Customer Reviews

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The Unreleased Recordings 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
becke More than 1 year ago
Gave to my dad for his 82nd birthday. He LOVES it. He says it sounds like Hank is in the room with him.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a "must have" for anyone who enjoys the real country sound!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I remember listening to Hank Williams on the radio when I was a little girls so this collection brought back memories. I don't claim to be a country music fan but my husband says I must be because I have so much country music. But this is quality music by someone who could sing and not just "speak songs".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this for my husband since he is a huge Hank fan and I personally don't like him...but he loves it and listens to it every day
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing quality for such old recordings. The only thing missing is "Your Cheatin' Heart".
Steve7500 More than 1 year ago
I have listened to Hank as a youngster when he was alive. I had some of his recordings on 78's. I really like what you've done with this group of songs and with the clarity that comes across in the re-mastering. A job well done ! Georgia Boy
Dianaaz More than 1 year ago
Growing up in the 70's my parents only listened to country music--I hated it, I'm a real rocker. But as I've matured, and became a bit nostalgic I am able to appreciate country music for the unvarnished sound that it is. This collection is incredible, Hank's voice is so sincere and refined, it is as though you are in the studio with him. A must have for any music collection. Kudo's to Jett and Hank Jr. for bringing forth this magnificent tribute.
casperJP More than 1 year ago
Hank never had much of a voice but he had style , I don't know why but I love those old Hank songs .I listen to them along with Wayne Hancock ,Hank the 3rd ,I just can't get enough of it. So I'll buy the next batch of unreleased Hank when it's available .
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