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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing Hank Williams' vault find - the Mothers' Best mother lode
In 2008 Time-Life released the brilliant Unreleased Recordings box set. The fifty-four previously unreleased tracks cherry-picked live-in-the-studio recordings from Williams' 1951 Mothers' Best radio show. The acetate transcriptions showed off a directness and intensity that wasn't always found in MGM's studios, and illuminated a new side of a superstar whose biography...
Published on May 28, 2011 by hyperbolium

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13 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars FABULOUS MUSIC-TOO MUCH TALKING
The MUSIC in this box set is fantastic and the sound quality is outstanding. The reason that I gave this only a 3 star rating is because of the REPEATED commercials. The listener gets very tired of the Mother's Best Commercials over and over. The best format for this box set would have been: ALL the Hank Williams Mother's Best recordings in sequence without the...
Published on April 9, 2011 by t-bone


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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing Hank Williams' vault find - the Mothers' Best mother lode, May 28, 2011
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This review is from: Hank Williams: The Complete Mother's Best Recordings...Plus! (15CD/1DVD) (Audio CD)
In 2008 Time-Life released the brilliant Unreleased Recordings box set. The fifty-four previously unreleased tracks cherry-picked live-in-the-studio recordings from Williams' 1951 Mothers' Best radio show. The acetate transcriptions showed off a directness and intensity that wasn't always found in MGM's studios, and illuminated a new side of a superstar whose biography had long since transcended to folk lore. At the time of the box set's release there was debate as to whether it was right to excerpt the musical selections from the original 15-minute radio programs, and there was much clamoring for the original full-length transcriptions. Time Life's new fifteen CD set presents the original acetates in their full glory - seventy-two programs totaling over eighteen hours, and may remind you to be careful of what you wish for!

As illuminating as were the songs excerpted for the previous box, the intact radio programs add yet another dimension to Williams' personal and professional personalities. The very circumstance of their recording, waxed for broadcast when his heavy touring schedule prevented him from broadcasting live, speaks to the career peak Williams achieved in 1951. Not only was he selling records and filling seats at concerts, but he was writing some of his most revered original songs. Two of these, "Cold, Cold Heart" and "I Can't Help it (If I'm Still in Love With You)" even received their public debuts on his radio program. Williams lights up numerous country and western chestnuts, sings hymns and spirituals with his Drifting Cowboys, and gives recitations. There's a wealth of obscure and rare material among these recordings.

Williams performs with the ease of a seasoned performer rummaging around for something to entertain the folks, enticing them to stay tuned through the commercials and to come out to his live performances. Although recorded for later broadcast on WSM, these performances have the informality and spontaneity of live radio programs. Williams' asides are clearly unscripted and unrehearsed, and at only twenty-seven (and just a couple of years from his untimely death), he married the fire of youth with the poise of artists decades his senior. The music is an obvious goldmine, but the continuity - the commercials, ad lib asides and joshing with those in the studio - draws a distinct picture of, to quote Hank Jr. "a young man on top of his world."

A great DJ or radio talk show host can create a personal connection with their listeners, and Williams had the talent. He showed off his quick wit and drew listeners into the party taking place in the studio. But unlike a DJ or talk host, Williams both spoke and sang, seamlessly weaving together his conversations, announcements, introductions and songs into an effortlessly magnetic whole. Even a minor gaffe of live radio, such as an announcer's momentary forgetfulness, is turned into material as everyone breaks up and the joke is shared with the listeners. Williams' band is exceptional, responding on a dime as their leader calls out a song, and playing in perfect balance to the microphone. Fiddler Jerry Rivers and steel player Don Helms are real standouts and often featured. Williams' wife Audrey, who was the motor behind his career, also sings a few, but with more charm than vocal talent.

The transcriptions have some minor audio artifacts and scattered surface noise, but it rarely distracts from the astonishing clarity and presence of these recordings. Engineer Joe Palmaccio has restored these recordings with the deftness of an artisan, and the catalog and performances are beyond compare - even to Williams' much revered studio catalog. As with the previous box, it boggles the mind that country music's greatest ever artist should have his music catalog so vastly expanded more than fifty years after his passing. Bonus material includes a 1952 program on which Williams auditions for a show sponsored by Aunt Jemima, a musical-story public service announcement warning of the dangers of venereal disease, and a DVD featuring interviews with Williams band members Don Helms and Bill Lester.

Colin Escott's liner notes are superb and should net him a Grammy. He provides informative and entertaining context for the songs and performers, and explains many references that would escape modern day listeners. For example, you might know that Pee Wee King was born Julius Kuczynski, but you probably didn't know he was prone to swearing in Polish when he was mad! The packaging matches the grandness of the recordings, with a 108-page book that includes full-panel vintage photos, reproductions of various ephemera, detailed biographies of the key show participants, an introduction by Hank Jr. and an afterword by Jett Williams. The set is housed in an antique-style radio box that even plays a few audio snippets at the turn of a knob.

This is an astonishing new portrait of an artist most fans thought they already knew intimately, especially after the 2008 release of the shows' musical elements. What the full radio programs reveal is a completely different side of an artist whose popular image, particularly in historical retrospect, was defined by the tenor of his songs and his singing. What emerges is a preternaturally talented performer who wrote and sang decades beyond his age, and, in contrast to the pain etched into his lyrics, was personally buoyant and friendly and funny. Those who sat by their radio in 1951 may have already known this, but the rest of us are just finding out that Williams' was more than an iconic singer and songwriter, he was also a crackerjack pitchman and offered his fans a warm, entertaining human presence. [©2010 hyperbolium dot com]
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mother's Best is Simply Best, May 13, 2011
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This review is from: Hank Williams: The Complete Mother's Best Recordings...Plus! (15CD/1DVD) (Audio CD)
This landmark recording doubles Hank Williams' recorded output and by a much larger factor highlights the enduring integrity and genius of this iconic performer. The reviewer who complains about the repetitive Mother's Best advertisements and station identification misses the point on almost every level; the recordings and their presentation don't exactly make one feel like a 1950s "shut in" having breakfast prior to working the farm, but they do both hugely entertain and convey a time and place like almost no other contemporary recording could do.

The valve-radio set presentation box (complete with functioning front dial and mini-recording!) underline the limitations of MP3 downloads - try achieving this experience on an iPod.

A beautifully packaged, beautifully mastered and historic set of recordings.

Long live acetate!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 1951 all over again, April 27, 2011
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This review is from: Hank Williams: The Complete Mother's Best Recordings...Plus! (15CD/1DVD) (Audio CD)
Unless you were listening at 7:15 to WSM in 1951 , you have not yet heard these recordings like this yet.
As another reviewer said , there is a lot of talking on these discs. They are all 15 minute radio shows used to feature 3 or 4 music selections , as well as promotional spots for Mother's Best flour.
Although the ads can be repetitive , it is the overall charm and home-spun nature of these recordings that make the whole project work----oh , and of course , Hank Williams.
If you are a follower of Hank----you need this
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Country Music Holy Grail, November 24, 2011
This review is from: Hank Williams: The Complete Mother's Best Recordings...Plus! (15CD/1DVD) (Audio CD)
Con: Sort of Expensive.
Pro: Worth Every Penny, and then some.

I'm in my fifties. I have been collecting music my entire life. And I have to say, this is one of the great musical Finds-Releases of all times. The recordings litterally place you as a fly on the wall of history in the presence of a Country Music God. Many of the recordings are better than the official releases. Also, lot's of songs that have never been heard on record from Hank. Incredible. Another reviewer critized the recordings as having "Too much talking". Well that's his opinion. I disagree. I love all the talking. The bantor between Hank, Cousin Louie Buck, Bur-Head, etc., is just priceless. If you like Hank Williams, this is really a must. I would give this 10 Stars if I could.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What can you say?, February 12, 2012
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This review is from: Hank Williams: The Complete Mother's Best Recordings...Plus! (15CD/1DVD) (Audio CD)
For years we collectors of Hank's music have listened to scratchy bootleg versions of these in varying quality. Some bootlegs were fairly good while some were terrible. Whatever the case might be it was vintage Hank Williams and not available commercially. I can remember talking to Kira Florita via e-mail and her saying her fear was these would never be commercially available. Here we are years later and we can finally enjoy these in their entirety as the general public did in the 1950's.

I am amazed, and no one has shed any light on this topic when I've brought it up, that MGM never got their hands on these. They got ahold of Health and Happiness as well as the Johnny Fair Syrup shows and hit a goldmine of LP releases with those recordings. It's a shame that we've had to wait almost 60 years for the first legal release of these shows.

A handful of the songs were played on The Music Country Network's Hank special in the late 80's and a LP album (bootleg) of the songs appeared for a while made from those recordings. I also heard a local radio station play "I'll Sail My Ship Alone" on their oldies show several years before the release of this set, so the songs have been floating around out there for a long time as I mentioned before.

The sound quality is a bit of an issue. I don't expect 60 year old recordings to be perfect and surface noise wise I'm sure there wasn't much that could be fixed. I've heard bootlegs of the Aunt Jemima and VD spots that were cleaner noise wise but not nearly as clear sounding either, so I'll take the clarity with a spat of noise here and there anytime. I do believe these could have been made a little less "tinny" but perhaps the idea was to give the listener the feel of hearing it live on AM radio.

Mr. Escott, while I don't always agree with you, the liner notes were spot on, sir!!! 10 stars, Colin!!! I sat glued to my seat reading the liner notes.

Is it too much to ask that we get the rest of the Hank stuff floating around on CD? There are still the WSFA acetates, the Sunset Park concert and various other things roaming around out there. Oh, can we please have the overdubbed Mother's Best recordings as well?
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible!!!, July 14, 2011
This review is from: Hank Williams: The Complete Mother's Best Recordings...Plus! (15CD/1DVD) (Audio CD)
I'm kinda "new" to "old" country music - but when I listened to Hank Williams, I was totally amazed by his talent and being such a prolific, young songwriter!!!
This box looks impressive, it is really well done, the booklet is actually a little book for real that contains beautiful photos and lots of informations, and the cds are astonishing!, great care in restoring an "ancient sound" for a digital format... I say here the word RESPECT for the work of Mr. Williams is the key word for describe this wonderful box!!!

Reccomended!!! :)
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed Gem, December 28, 2011
This review is from: Hank Williams: The Complete Mother's Best Recordings...Plus! (15CD/1DVD) (Audio CD)
The mastering on these discs is my only problem. These were transcription discs recorded to be played on AM radio.

AM radio has massive compression, so in order to keep the signal from overloading, the radio engineers who recorded these transcriptions (Glen Snoddy for one) kept the bass frequencies extra quiet. There IS a bass player (Howard "Cedric Rainwater" Watts) present on these recordings, yet he can only be heard if you set your EQ with the bass frequency all the way up. You will notice that he sits out the numbers he is singing harmony on.

Last night in my car I was playing these back on an mp3 player. I set the mp3 player's bass all the way up, then turned on the mp3 player's "bass boost," then I set the bass all the way up on the car stereo, and FINALLY I heard the bass. Louie Buck and Hank's voices both have much more presence, and the band sounds much fuller.

When the first "Unreleased Recordings" box set was released, I immediately knew they were making this mistake - Jett was saying in interviews the mastering engineer convinced her NOT to add any compression to these priceless recordings. Did the mastering engineer not hear that the bass disappeared when there was no compression? I've been looking forward to these recordings being released for over a decade, then they show up and they have botched the job.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One Of A Kind, June 29, 2011
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This review is from: Hank Williams: The Complete Mother's Best Recordings...Plus! (15CD/1DVD) (Audio CD)
In my opinion Hank Williams was the greatest singer/songwriter that has ever been or ever will be, and for several years I thought I owned everything he had recorded. Well, I was wrong. This set has to be some of Hank's best work. Not only do you get 70+ complete radio shows, but there is also a DVD in which Jett Williams interviews Don Helms, Big Bill Lister, and one of the sound engineers that worked at WSM when Hank recorded the shows. Because the shows that were recorded were played on the radio as if they were live, you get to hear Hank and the rest of the people interact with each other, and not just the music. I wouldn't trade this set for anything in the world. It is definitely worth the asking price for anyone who is even remotely a fan of Hank Williams.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars love hank, December 16, 2012
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This review is from: Hank Williams: The Complete Mother's Best Recordings...Plus! (15CD/1DVD) (Audio CD)
got this for my dad for christmas i cant wait till he opens it! love it love it love it
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow.Hank Williams Reborn., April 5, 2012
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This review is from: Hank Williams: The Complete Mother's Best Recordings...Plus! (15CD/1DVD) (Audio CD)
I got mine the other day.What a set.15 CDs of unrealeased material from the Mothers Best radio show with Hank Williams.These shows have been lost for over 50 years,but thanks to Time Life we can hear them again.You can hear Hank sing and clown at the mike.All of his hits,Live.Move It On Over,I Saw The Light,My Sweet Love Aint Around,Cold Cold Heart,Dear John,Wedding Bells,Long Gone Lonesome Blues,Hey Good Looking,etc to name but a few.Very informative hard cover book and a DVD. with an interview with Hanks daughter.
On CD #15 Hank does a radio show and warns us about the dangers of Vernal Disease.The story concerns a young bride who,while her husband is off on buisness has an affair with a family friend and contacts the disease.When she goes to the family doctor he breaks the bad news to her.
The CDs,DVD,and book housed in a radio type box.
This will be a welcome addition to your Hank Williams Collection.
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