With such all-time classics as “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “Hey Good Lookin’,” “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” and “Jambalaya (On the Bayou)” in his songbook, Hank Williams remains one of the cornerstones of country music – and indeed, American popular song – 66 years after his untimely death. On February 7, BMG will salute the late singer-songwriter with the release of Pictures from Life’s Other Side – The Man and His Music in Rare Photos and Recordings. This lavish 6-CD collection presents all 144 tracks recorded by Williams for his 1951 radio show sponsored by Mother’s Best Flour Company.
Williams was headlining for WSM’s renowned Grand Ole Opry when he began hosting his own radio program for the same station in 1951. Due to his heavy live concert schedule, however, he couldn’t be in Nashville to present each of the 15-minute daily broadcasts live. As a result, a number of the broadcasts were pre-recorded transcription discs which were aired and promptly discarded. Thankfully, these rare discs were saved years later as they were about to be thrown away, and their discovery more than doubled the amount of Williams’ known recordings. (He died on January 1, 1953 – less than two years after these vibrant performances were captured – at the age of 29.)
The Mother’s Best radio shows have been chronicled on various sets in the past, most notably in comprehensive form by Time-Life on the 16-disc box set The Complete Mother’s Best Recordings…Plus! in 2010. Whereas that release presented all of the radio shows in uncut form with guest singers and instrumental tracks, Pictures from Life’s Other Side is the first release to collect the entirety of Hank’s remarkable performances outside the context of the original radio programs. The box has been produced by Omnivore Recordings’ Cheryl Pawelski, with each track painstakingly restored and remastered by Michael Graves. Together, Pawelski and Graves earned the Best Historical Album Grammy Award for Williams’ The Garden Spot Programs, 1950 compilation in 2015.
Pictures from Life’s Other Side includes such Williams standards as “Lovesick Blues,” “A Mansion on the Hill,” “Move It on Over,” “I Saw the Light,” “Cold Cold Heart,” “Long Gone Lonesome Blues,” “I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still in Love with You),” and “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” as well as Hank’s only known recordings of several other songs.
The six discs will be housed in a slipcase with a deluxe book telling Williams’ story in photographs, many of which are rare and previously unpublished. The whopping 272-page volume was assembled by author Colin Escott, a two-time Grammy winner for past Williams releases, who has penned the new liner notes. It was compiled with the assistance of Grammy-nominated historian Scott B. Bomar and Williams photo collector Ken Campanile. Hank’s daughter, Jett Williams, has contributed a personal foreword to the book.
This historically significant tribute to the enduring legacy of Hank Williams will arrive in stores from BMG on February 7, 2020. Additionally, a 3-LP highlights version, Only Mother’s Best, will be pressed on 180-gram vinyl and released the same date. Both the box set and 3-LP edition are available now directly from King’s Road Merchandise. Pre-orders placed before January 17 will receive a free 7-inch vinyl single featuring Hank’s first recordings pressed on red vinyl. We’ll update here with Amazon links as soon as they go live!