My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Album Review: Hank Williams and Hank Williams Jr – ‘Father And Son Again’

FATHER AND SON AGAINThe first album of posthumous duets with duets with his dad sold well enough that a second volume was produced. Our friend Ken Nelson commented on Paul’s review of the previous effort that less well known material would have worked better and that is borne out on this sequel. The joins between old and new recordings are still evident at times, but seem less glaring.

A harmonica-led ‘My Sweet Love Ain’t Around’ with the senior Hank’s characteristic lonesome wail contrasting with his son’s more robust vocal is very good. Hank Jr is less convincing than his dad on the blues ‘My Bucket’s A Hole In It’, perhaps due to his youth.

However, both performances are great on one of my favourite Hank Williams songs, ‘I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still In Love With You)’. The affecting ‘My Son Calls Another Man Daddy’ has a special resonance for this father-son performance. ‘Moanin’ The Blues’ also works pretty well.

‘Window Shopping’ (an obscure tune written by the French-born Marcel Joseph and originally recorded by Hank Sr as the B side for his big hit ‘Jambalaya’) is a pained critique of a woman not prepared to settle down.

Strings sweeten the arrangement on ‘Why Should We Try Anymore’ giving a hint of what Hank senior’s music might have sounded like had he lived to the late 60s and been persuaded to adopt the Nashville Sound.

The downbeat material is mixed in with more lighthearted fare. ‘Baby, We’re Really In Love’ is a sunny love song. The less well known ‘I’ll Be A Bachelor Til I Die’ cheerfully defends the single life, again with prominent harmonica:

This freedom’s mighty precious in this land of liberty
I’ve seen what matrimony’s done to better men than me
I don’t mind keeping company with the apple of my eye
But get that marryin’ out of your head
I’ll be a bachelor ‘til I die

The blackly comic ‘I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive’ is effective. The pair’s version of ‘Howlin’ at The Moon’ is also entertaining, but the novelty ‘Kaw-Liga’ has never been one of my favourite Hank Williams tunes, and this version does nothing to change my mind.

Overall, this is an enjoyable album, but the fact that it is a shamelessly cynical money-grab by the label detracts somewhat.

Grade: A-

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5 responses to “Album Review: Hank Williams and Hank Williams Jr – ‘Father And Son Again’

  1. Ken January 15, 2016 at 9:40 am

    Your review of this LP is definitely on point, As you pointed out despite the shortcomings it was still enjoyable to hear father & son singing together. However I wouldn’t completely characterize it as a cynical money grab by MGM. After all the main objective of any record company is to make money for themselves and their artists. Hank’s style, instrumentation and the fact that he was not able to record on magnetic tape made his recordings sound quite dated compared to current country music of the mid-1960’s. I think that MGM and his heirs were trying to keep Hank’s music relevant as the sound of country music was rapidly evolving. RCA Victor and Jim Reeves widow Mary did the same thing after Jim’s untimely death by overdubbing new backing tracks and even creating new duets with Patsy Cline and Deborah Allen. Of course most of Jim’s post-1958 recordings were made on multi-track tape so it was technically possible to isolate his voice and seamlessly add new backing tracks. Hank’s songs were recorded on single track discs that had a some surface noise. Digital technology did not yet exist to better extract his vocals. In the end though It’s up to the listener to determine if the new efforts are satisfying or if they detract from a singer’s legacy.

    The success of the first duet album is likely what led MGM to create a new Hank Williams solo album in 1966 “The Legend Live Anew – Hank Williams With Strings.” It was released two months prior to the second duets album. Hank’s original recordings from more than a decade earlier were embellished with strings, background vocals and contemporary country instrumentation including piano, electric bass, drums and pedal steel & electric guitar. Some folks heard it as a sacrilege while others viewed it as fresh and innovative. In any case it is interesting to hear Hank’s distinctive vocals framed by voices & orchestration. I’m in the camp that hears it as a new and interesting way to present Hank’s music although not as good as the originals. But after all had Hank lived he likely would have evolved his sound to perhaps include the same type of arrangements. Below are a couple of examples of those efforts. I think that the Luke The Drifter songs with narrations actually sound pretty good with the new backing tracks and choruses. See what you think. There are two songs in each clip.

  2. Paul W Dennis January 15, 2016 at 7:31 pm

    I have the first and third volumes of Hank Williams With Strings, and while the strings work on some of the tracks, on others they are an abomination. The single best track for me is on the second volume (which I lost during a move) “Howling At The Moon”.

    The albums are worth hearing but they are very much a mixed bag

  3. luckyoldsun January 16, 2016 at 12:20 am

    I suppose some recording engineers with time on their hands could lay strings, tinkling pianos and mellow background choruses over recordings of Jimmie Rodgers, Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, Al Jolson–and Enrico Caruso. I’d call that–and “Hank with Strings”–silly. It does not rise–or sink–to what I’d call “an abomination.” My reaction on hearing it was to chuckle.
    “You Win Again” sounded like “Hank Does Ray Charles.”

    • Ken January 16, 2016 at 3:49 pm

      A recording engineer with time on his hands would not be able to do that alone. He would need to book the studio time, hire an arranger, hire a session leader and all of the musicians. He would also have to get clearance from the record label & copyright holder to agree to overdubbing the original recording.

      Your simplistic view of how the process works is most amusing. Or should I say silly.

  4. luckyoldsun January 17, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    OK Mr. Literal,
    Next time I’ll include a book and footnotes with my comment.

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