My Kind of Country

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

Compilation Review: The Best of Hank Williams Jr, Volume One: Roots and Branches’

MI0002768558Released in 1992, The Best of Hank Williams Jr: Roots and Branches is a compilation of songs Hank recorded between the mid 1960s – mid 1970s. The songs trace Hank’s career before he developed his own sound and became the superstar country-rocker he’s best known as today.

All and all, the collection consists of twenty songs including six that Hank wrote himself. “Standing In The Shadows” is an excellent honky-tonk ballad as is “I Was With Red Foley,” which features a nice spoken word lyric. “Rock in My Shoe” and “Stoned At the Jukebox” is more contemporary in nature, with flourishes of harmonica and 1970s-era acoustic guitar pairing nicely with the ribbons of steel still heard throughout. “Living Proof” showcases Hank just as he began to shape his own identity. In contrast, “It’s All Over But the Crying” appears to be from his earliest days, with Hank framed in a Nashville Sound-era arrangement.

Hank’s father had a hand with three of the tracks. “Cajun Baby” is billed as being written by both father and son, and it’s an excellent fiddle-based uptempo tune. “Long Gone Lonesome Blues” and “Cold, Cold Ground” are mid-tempo honky-tonkers.

The rest of the compilation features tunes written by a bevy of different songwriters. “I’d Rather Be Gone” is a Merle Haggard-penned straight country ballad as is the Harlan Howard-penned “I Walked Out on Heaven.” Toy Caldwell had “Losing You” and “Can’t You See,” two of the meatiest tunes on the whole project.

The whole album is indeed a first-rate run down of Hank’s career during this period. Unlike most of the albums we’ve highlighted this month, Roots and Branches is still available (although not digitally) and worth seeking out.

Grade: A

2 responses to “Compilation Review: The Best of Hank Williams Jr, Volume One: Roots and Branches’

  1. Ken January 27, 2016 at 8:52 am

    The producer of this compilation chose 13 singles along with 7 random album tracks. Considering that a comprehensive single CD set of Hank’s MGM singles had never been done before – and still has not been issued to this day – a great opportunity was missed. Can’t find fault with what’s here though. All but one track – “Long Time Gone”- is on Hank’s 4-CD box set “Living Proof – The MGM Recordings 1963-1975.” Perhaps the best find is Hank’s #12 single from 1970 “I Walked Out On Heaven” which was issued on just one other single CD so far.

  2. Paul W Dennis January 28, 2016 at 5:53 am

    This is a good single disk collection, although not truly comprehensive. As Ken noted, “Long Time Gone” is not on the MGM box, so if you have the box you’ll need to decide whether or not it is worth buying this disk for the one song.

    I purchased this album before I bought the MGM box

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