A new set of previously unreleased recordings that Hank Williams made for the Mother’s Best radio show in 1951 will be issued as a 3-CD box set called Revealed: Unreleased Recordings on November 3rd via Time Life. In addition to 50 tracks not heard since they originally aired, the collection includes extremely rare in-studio conversations with Williams, and each disc contains a complete show exactly as it was heard over fifty years ago. Of particular importance is “Cold, Cold, Heart” captured on one of the program’s earliest surviving shows, making it the first public performance ever of the song.
The recordings offer new and profound insight into William’s life and music, revealing a personality that had never been previously seen or heard anywhere else. It showcases his humor as he jokes with his band and the emcee, his love of music as he talks unguardedly about his favorite songs, and captures him in his prime. Newsweek magazine noted poignantly that upon first listening to the tapes of Williams’ in-studio banter, it marked the first time his lost daughter Jett heard her father laugh. “To me, this is even more exciting than the first set because you get to hear my daddy talk and you get a sense of him, not just as an entertainer, but as a person,” says Jett Williams. “That’s why we called it REVEALED. The song selection is as strong as the first volume, but this time we’ve done three thematic CD’s.”
Revealed follows Unreleased Recordings, a 3-CD box set issued by Time Life last year to universal critical acclaim and strong sales. The Los Angeles Times raved, “…remarkable…although many boxed sets are so filled with hits and misses that they deserve to be called little more than record industry “product,” this set is so rich and revealing it deserves to be labeled ‘historic.'” Uncut gave the collection five stars, declaring, “…it’s a supreme showcase for his many talents: the poetic simplicity of his songwriting, the vocal inflections that came to embody the language of country music itself…the hurt and soul that imbued everything he sang with an alarming rawness.” And the New York Times simply stated, “Truly one of the best records ever.”
At the peak of his career in 1951, Hank Williams recorded 143 songs on radio shows sponsored by the Mother’s Best flour company. Hank sang with his regular road band and taped his hits as well as songs he never recorded anywhere else. It is a rare, informal glimpse into the heart and soul of country music’s greatest star who passed away on New Year’s Day 1953, at age 29. The performances were recorded on acetate discs (meant to be played only once or twice) that were shelved in 1951 and gradually faded from common memory. In the 1970s the acetates were saved from the trash by a WSM employee and eventually given to Hank’s daughter, Jett, who was born after Hank died and did not know he was her father until many years later. On behalf of the estate, Jett fought an eight-year battle to establish ownership, finally winning the right to release these recordings.
Since his death in 1953, Williams has risen in popularity to become one of most iconic figures in all of American music. Such classics as “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “Jambalaya,” “You Win Again,” keep his legacy alive and these Mother’s Best recordings have been eagerly awaited by fans around the world. The 143 recordings will be released as installments over a three year period. When the Time Life series is complete it will increase the number of known Williams’ recordings by fifty percent.
Pre-order the set here.