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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Hank Williams: The Garden Spot Programs, 1950 (Omnivore Recordings)

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Hank Williams was a country music star but he was also a comet, streaking across the horizon of American popular culture in the early 1950s. He recorded for roughly three years, had 11 number-one records and was dead at age 29. No one before or since has created such an impressive body of work in such a short time.

Previously unreleased, The Garden Spot Programs, 1950 collects 24 performances that Williams and his band recorded for a Texas plant nursery. Transcriptions of these sessions were sent to radio stations for airplay. Originally released on colored vinyl for Record Store Day 2014, Omnivore Recordings has now issued it on CD.

These live-in-the studio recordings demonstrate great musical interplay and Williams’ relaxed between-song banter. His vocals are subtly incredible—moaning the word “care” to three syllables. With “The Garden Spot Jingle” bookending every show, the album collects secular hits (“Lovesick Blues,” “Mind Your Own Business”) along with sacred (“Farther Along,” “A Mansion on the Hill”). For fans there is no such thing as too much Hank.