Album Reviews

Hank Williams: The Garden Spot (Omnivore)

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Finding new recordings from Hank Williams is a pretty daunting task, and with each passing year, the chances of finding anything new grows dim, yet his legend lives on. Dead at a young age, his career was brief, yet his songs helped build the foundation of country music. The discovery of recordings made for the mail-order garden company Naughton Farms represent a major archival find. Recorded in 1950, only four complete sessions are known to exist, but these four shows were found in the archives of KSIB in Creston, Iowa. These recordings have been cleaned up and are presented together as The Garden Spot Programs, 1950,

The shows follow a basic format. Each set ran around ten minutes in length, and featured one hit song, another song, an instrumental fiddle tune, and a closing Gospel song. Thus, the listener gets treated to hearing “Lovesick Blues” twice, as well as a fun take on “Mind Your Own Business,” and a pleasant “Wedding Bells.” Personally, the Gospel songs are the real winners here. WIlliams’ life as depicted in his songs was one of wrong-doing, cheating, and sin, so to hear him sing “Farther Along” and “A Mansion On The Hill,” both of which have become hymns, is particularly thrilling.

The only flaw of The Garden Spot Programs, 1950 is that it’s too brief. Of course, that can’t be helped, and one must be grateful for the discovery of any new material. This collection is a welcomed one, and a wonderful glimpse of history.

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