THREE-CD BOX SET Turn Back The Years: The Essential Hank Williams Collection FEATURES 60 ORIGINAL RECORDINGS ABOUT HONKY-TONKIN’, COLD, COLD HEART AND FINALLY, I SAW THE LIGHT
Drinkin,’ lovin’ and prayin’. Never before have those powerful themes been spotlighted in the music of the legendary Hank Williams as they are on the three-CD box set Turn Back The Years: The Essential Hank Williams Collection (Mercury/UMe), released October 11, 2005. Featuring 60 original recordings, newly digitally remastered--20 each on CDs titled "Honky-Tonkin’," "Cold, Cold Heart" and "I Saw The Light"--Turn Back The Years illuminates the forces that shaped and ruled the short and troubled life of a man whose songs are part of Americana and continue to be reinterpreted by artists of nearly every genre.
Co-produced and annotated by Grammy winning country music authority Colin Escott, Turn Back The Years is marked by a 24-page deluxe booklet including an essay and rare photos. Spanning Williams’ entire recording career of 1946-1952, the set shines a focused light on one of the most important figures in the history of American music. By the time Williams died on New Year’s Eve 1952, he had redefined country music and laid the foundation for rock ‘n’ roll. He was 29 years old and had recorded just 88 songs under his own name. But half of them were hits and he was as big a star as anyone who had ever stepped on a stage.
The "Honky Tonkin’" CD illustrates Hank’s rooting in black music and his affinity for what would be called "rock ‘n’ roll attitude." In fact, "Move It On Over," his first hit, had a blues melody that later became "Rock Around The Clock." He epitomized blunt honesty ("I’m A Long Gone Daddy"), carnal desire ("Hey, Good Lookin,’" "Howlin’ At The Moon," "Rootie Tootie," "Settin’ The Woods On Fire") and rowdiness ("There’s A Tear In My Beer," "Too Many Parties And Too Many Pals"). The latter was issued under his Luke The Drifter guise, as was "I’ve Been Down That Road Before" and "Ramblin’ Man." Heard too are "Honky Tonkin’," "Wearin’ Out Your Walkin’ Shoes," "Rockin’ Chair Money," "Lost Highway," "(I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle," "Honky Tonk Blues" and more.
The "Cold, Cold Heart" CD contains the classic "Lovesick Blues" which was a huge hit in 1949. Today, two other songs are perhaps more popular--"Your Cheatin’ Heart" and "I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry." Other gems include the CD’s title track "Cold, Cold Heart," "Please Make Up Your Mind," "A Mansion On The Hill," "My Love For You (Has Turned To Hate)," "You Win Again" and Ernest Tubb’s "I’m Free At Last," "First Year Blues" and "Wedding Bells."
The "I Saw The Light" CD boasts a few of his earliest recordings--"Calling You," "Wealth Won’t Save Your Soul" and "I Saw The Light," among the most popular of latter-day hymns. Hank’s gospel streak yielded "The Pale Horse And His Rider," "I’ll Have A New Body (I’ll Have A New Life)," "Where The Soul Of Man Never Dies," "When God Dips His Love In My Heart," "Neath A Cold Gray Tomb of Stone," "Alone and Forsaken," "House Of Gold," "Angel Of Death" and other songs.
Within two years of his death, Elvis would start recording and the world that Hank Williams knew would change forever--but it was a world that Hank Williams helped create.