In 1951, Hank Williams hosted a show for the Nashville radio station WSM, recording the spots in between tour dates and playing a mix if his own songs and standards like “On Top of Old Smokey.” The original acetate tapes were salvaged from the station’s garbage in the ’70s, then languished for years as the members of Williams’ estate battled record labels and each other in court. Now they’re being released by Time-Life in September as “Hank Williams Complete Mother Best Recordings…Plus!”
As the title implies, the set is a whopper; 16 discs, containing72 complete 15-minute shows, featuring 143 performances by Williams, along with a DVD. Jett Williams, the daughter of the late country legend, helped put together what she called the “über set” (as opposed to an earlier three-disc set that contained just the songs) and said much of the appeal lies in hearing Williams’ studio banter. “You can see how quick his humor is,” she said. According to Williams, the WSM recordings increases her father’s existing catalog by 50%. “To have this much of someone who’s been dead for 50 years is remarkable,” she said.