Hank Williams, "The Complete Mother's Best Recordings . . . Plus!"

90 Billboard Rating

In Merle Haggard's song "The Way It Was in '51," the singer/ songwriter recalls, "66 was still a narrow, two-lane highway/ Harry Truman was the man who ran the show/The bad Korean War was just beginning/ Hank and Lefty crowded every jukebox." The "Hank" in question was at the zenith of his career that year, and his young life was less than two years from ending. Ironically, 1951 also found Hank Williams at his most prolific and productive, as well as hosting a live weekday morning radio show at the Grand Ole Opry's powerhouse station, WSM Nashville, that was sponsored by the Mother's Best Flour Co. Taken from fragile acetate discs recorded for playback when Williams was touring, the surviving Mother's Best shows spent the better part of 60 years in storage and ownership litigation. They finally see daylight in this stunning 16-disc boxed set, painstakingly restored and documented with a hardcover booklet. The audio results are nothing short of staggering, with Williams covering a wide range of his personal favorites and current hits by other stars of the era. Backed by his Drifting Cowboys band and co-hosted with WSM announcer Louie Buck, the set shows Williams as most fans never experienced him-unscripted, warm, folksy and humorous, with everything to live for and still plenty to prove.