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The Legend Begins: Rare & Unreleased Recordings

16 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 13, 2011
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The Legend Begins: Rare & Unreleased Recordings + The Lost Concerts: Limited Collector's Edition + The Garden Spot Programs, 1950
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Editorial Reviews

Time Life is proud to release the 3-CD set: Hank Williams: The Legend Begins- Rare and Unreleased Recordings. It's another unique glimpse into the musical career of country music's greatest star who passed away in 1953 at the age of 29.

Still more to discover: No one knew in 1938 that when a teenager made his first recording in the kitchen of a famed DJ in Montgomery, Alabama, that the teen would go on to become the King of Country Music. Decades later, that DJ, Uncle Bob Helton, met Hank's daughter Jett, telling her he had something from her father. Audio engineers at the Country Music Hall of Fame weren't sure what to make of the acetate until an engineer put his thumb on the spinning disc to slow it down -- at that point they heard Hank's first recordings: a blues song called "Fan It," along with "Alexander's Ragtime Band." These songs survived on an acetate that was recorded at around 60 RPM (not 33, 45 or 78); the fragile acetate coating was already flaking off the disc...another year or two and it would have been unplayable and lost forever!

In addition to this unbelievable find, this collection features four previously unreleased recordings from 1940. Jett bought this rare acetate at auction from a collector, giving us "San Antonio Rose," "St. Louis Blues," "Greenback Dollar" and "Freight Train."

Rounding out this amazing collection are eight 15-minute recordings for the Health and Happiness shows, Hank's first syndicated radio series sponsored by a manufacturer of a patent cure-all, Hadacol. He sings his hits like "Lovesick Blues," "Lost Highway," and "A Mansion on the Hill," plus mixes in hymns and songs that he never recorded elsewhere, including "Tramp on the Street..." reckoned to be one of his most compelling performances.

Disc: 1
1. Happy Rovin Cowboy (Theme) - Hank Williams
2. Wedding Bells - Hank Williams
3. Lovesick Blues - Hank Williams
4. Jerry Rivers: Old Joe Clark - Hank Williams
5. Hank & Audrey: Where the Soul Never Dies - Hank Williams
6. Jerry Rivers: Sally Goodin - Hank Williams
See all 25 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Happy Rovin Cowboy (Theme)
2. A Mansion on the Hill
3. There ll Be No Teardrops Tonight
4. Jerry Rivers: Tennessee Wagner
5. The Prodigal Son
6. Jerry Rivers: Sally Goodin
See all 24 tracks on this disc
Disc: 3
1. Fan It
2. Hank Williams & Pee Wee Moultrie: Alexander s Ragtime Band
3. Freight Train Blues
4. New San Antonio Rose
5. St. Louis Blues
6. Greenback Dollar
See all 12 tracks on this disc

Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 13, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Label: Time Life Entertainment
  • ASIN: B005DLBL4K
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #160,330 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By hyperbolium on September 13, 2011
Format: Audio CD
This three-disc set returns to domestic print the two discs of live radio performances previously anthologized on the 1993 Heath & Happiness Shows. These programs were remastered from transcription discs cut in October 1949 at the Castle studio in Nashville, and though there are a few minor audio artifacts, the sound quality - particularly the instrumental balance of the Drifting Cowboys and the presence of Williams' voice - is exceptional. Each of the eight shows stretched to 15 minutes, when augmented by ad copy read by a local announcer; here they clock in a few minutes shorter. Williams opens each program with the Sons of the Pioneers' "Happy Rovin' Cowboy" and fiddler Jerry Rivers closes each episode with the instrumental "Sally Goodin".

In between the opening and closing numbers, Williams sings some of his best-loved early hits, original songs, and gospel numbers, and much like the later performances gathered on The Complete Mothers' Best Recordings... Plus! (or its musical-excerpt version, The Unreleased Recordings), the spontaneity and freshness of the live takes often outshine the better-known studio recordings. Williams' wife Audrey accompanies him on a few duets and sings a couple of challenging solo slots; Jerry Rivers shines both as an accompanist and in short solo highlights. As with the Mothers' Best shows, Williams is revealed to be not only a revered singer and songwriter, but a master host and entertainer.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Robert R. Roberts on September 16, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Freight Train Blues, Fan It, and Alexander's Ragtime Band are the only "new" Hank Williams vocal performances here. Greenback Dollar and St. Louis Blues are short instrumentals. To my ears, San Antonio Rose is the same version that appeared in the Complete Hank Williams box set. The 1951 March of Dimes show is presented in its entirety, including a solo spot by Audrey. It has never sounded better. That leaves the Health & Happiness shows, which have been sonically upgraded but are hardly "rare." Where the heck are the 1942 WSFA acetates? Oh, well. Those who don't need this entire set can download individual tracks from Amazon for $.99 each. I hope this helps.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By DJ Joe Sixpack HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 14, 2011
Format: Audio CD
Hank Williams
"The Legend Begins: Rare And Unreleased Recordings"
(Time-Life, 2011)
Finding old vanity recordings, acetates and self-released singles has become a "thing" among today's crop of country music uber-collectors, but who could have imagined that there were ancient demo recordings by none other than the legendary, pioneering honky-tonk hero, Hank Williams? Sure 'nuff, hoss: this new 3-CD includes a brief, grainy snippet of a 15-year old Hank Williams singing a verse of "Fan It," way back in 1938(!) soaring above an accordion-based western swing band. The voice is unmistakable - piercing, full of life, and also very young, without the weighty pathos of Hank's adult career. It's actually Hank's very first recording, one of a handful of historical gems acquired by the Hank Williams family and restored by audio engineers at the family's request.

Also included are four songs from 1940, where a robust-voiced Williams is experimenting with with vocal phrasing, singing folk and blues oldies, and even a version of Bob Wills' "New San Antonio Rose." Williams became an icon of the postwar honkytonk sound -- hearing him at work before the war is a real treat. Most of this collection is of radio airshots drawn from the "Health And Happiness" shows, along with his wife Audrey Williams and fiddler Jerry Rivers; also included is a short March of Dimes broadcast from 1951. As with all these sort of live shows, there's a charming informality and down-home feel, interwoven with hillbilly showbiz schtick... The big draw here is the set of early demos, but it's all great stuff! Another treat for Hank fans everywhere. (DJ Joe Sixpack, Slipcue Guide To Country Music)
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Hankman on February 4, 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I had such high hopes for this set. Let me start by saying I've never been a fan of Time-Life. They push the classic country sets on infomercials saying there are no rerecords of classic songs but yet the version of "Danny Boy" they touted by Conway Twitty was NOT the original MGM version but a later remake. The remastering job put forth on the Mother's Best Shows was lackluster making the songs way too shrill sounding.

Colin Escott gives us a great sales pitch in the liner notes telling us how the H & H shows are now remastered and can be heard in the same way listeners heard them on the radio. Mr. Escott, I took you to task on The (In)Complete Hank Williams, and I'm taking you to task again. Have you listened to these? They are as scratchy sounding as they can be. As for the "restoration technology" that was supposedly missing in 1993? They sounded better on the 1980's releases on The Collector's Edition CD's than what they do here. Do I need to walk to my bedroom and dig out the original H & H CD's where it was stated they weren't remastered to give them an "authentic" feel? Give me a second and I believe I will, Mr. Escott.

From the back page of the liner notes, we find a producer's note telling us how they chose to preserve the integrity of the original recordings and chose not to utilize any noise reduction techniques. You wrote the liner notes, Mr. Escott. How convenient it would slip your mind after 13 or 14 years, eh? Sir, I'm a fan of Hank's music, not someone who's paid to spin things the way the record company wants them to be spun. I can achieve better results running the original CD's through Polderbits software on my home computer than what Time Life achieved here.

The last disc is a disaster to say the least.
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wilburn brothers
Aye! Aye!! Couldn't agree more!!!
Nov 3, 2011 by BobbyBee |  See all 2 posts
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