Saturday, 19 September 2009

Hank Williams - Rockin' Chair Money

Hank Williams
Rockin' Chair Money - Gonna Shake This Shack
Bear Family Records

Tracklist: Tennessee Border/ Swing Wide Your Gate Of Love/ Move It On Over/ Rootie Tootie/ I'm A Long Gone Daddy/ I Saw The Light/ I Ain't Got Nothin' But Time/ You Better Keep It On Your Mind/ Honky Tonkin'/ Pan American/ The Blues Come Around/ Lovesick Blues/ Mind Your Own Business/ You're Gonna Change (Or I'm Gonna Leave)/ Rockin' Chair Money/ Roly Poly/ My Bucket's Got A Hole In It/ Long Gone Lonesome Blues/ Why Don't You Love Me/ I'm Satisfied With You/ I'll Be A Bachelor 'Til I Die/ I Can't Get You Off Of My Mind/ Nobody's Lonesome For Me/ Fly Trouble/ Moanin' The Blues/ Hey, Good Lookin'/ Half As Much/ Honky Tonk Blues/ Jambalaya (On The Bayou)/ Settin' The Woods On Fire/ Kaw-Liga/ Ten Little Numbers/ Fool About You.

Along with most people who weren’t “there at the time”, my first Hank Williams album was a Greatest Hits affair. It gave me an insight into the greatest country music artist of all time and whetted my appetite for more. A couple of years ago I bought the stunning Complete HW 10 CD box set and over the years have bought the Opry live, the Health and Happiness shows and just about anything that offers something new. So why the hell did I need to get this CD? Well it’s on Bear Family for a start, and it also features 33 tracks in the uptempo mode, ideal for a happy drive around the countryside. Don’t get me wrong, I love Your Cheatin’ Heart and My Son Calls Another Man Daddy is one of my favourite songs of all time, but for me, the real meat and bones of ol’ Hank are the numbers when he’s got a pep in his step.

Seventeen of the songs here made the country top 10, but for me the real beauty of this set is the less obvious stuff. You Better Keep It On Your Mind, Nobody’s Lonesome For Me, I’m Satisfied With you, they all sound great even against such illustrious company as the likes of Hey Good Lookin’ and Lovesick Blues.

Following Hank’s death, a shed load of songs came out with backing tracks overdubbed. These were followed decades later by the unadulterated, “unplugged” originals. You may have both or you might just have the unplugged. For the most part, Bear Family have chosen to go with the fuller sounding dubs (thankfully minus strings) and I believe they’ve made the right choice. Overdubbed in 1959, Rockin’ Chair Money and Tennessee Border both sound brilliant in this format and I can’t stop singing track two. Surely Hank had his tongue firmly in his cheek with that famous half smile cracking as he asks his chick to “swing wide your gate of love, open it for me”. I’ll have ten bucks worth with her as well.

As with their Rocks! series, Bear Family’s hillbilly sister, Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight goes from strength to strength. Mind you, it can’t get any stronger after this. Rockin’ Chair Money packs all the punch of Miss Audrey when the drunken Hank stumbled home with a head full of booze and that lop-sided grin.

To top it all, and to close the CD in blistering style hanks 1951 demo of Fool About You is given a pure rockabilly backing with probably Grady Martin adding the spice as he did to so many sessions. A brilliant ending to an absolutely essential package.