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Why? Because look what I just got for review!

Hank Williams and Dolly Parton

Two new box sets from country legends! YEE-HAW!

The first box set, “Hank Williams: Revealed,” is a three-disc collection that is actually the second in a series from Time Life Entertainment. (The first was released last October under the same title.) In the early 1950s, at the height of his popularity, Williams recorded numerous commercial radio shows for Mother’s Best Flour Company. In between advertisements for hog mash and cow feed, he performed both classic hits and personal favorites, all recorded live and in their entirety. Those recordings were recently uncovered, and a handful of them have been collected here. The 50-track set starts off with what would go on to become Williams’ career changer, “Cold, Cold Heart.” But when this live recording took place in 1951, Williams had no idea that it would go on to make him a legend in the annals of country music. What sets this collection apart from most others is the storytelling and banter that was captured in between songs. Similar to Johnny Cash’s legendary jailhouse performances (Folsom or San Quentin, take your pick), the core of the collection is the music, but those side interactions and comments are really what make the set special. It serves as a time machine of sorts, whisking listeners back to 1951 and into the studio with the country legend himself. If you’re a fan of country greats and have a desire to hear them raw and uncut at their peak, this set is for you.

With a title like “Dolly,” I shouldn’t have to tell you who the second box set’s artist is. First, I have to get the art nerd stuff out of the way: This four-disc set is damn pretty. It’s designed beautifully, features amazing photography (some of which is by photographer Jim Herrington), and is a wonderful shelf piece for all CD dorks. Now that the visuals are out of the way, let’s get to the music. This set collects some of Parton’s best work from 1959 to 1992, starting with a scratchy little number called “Puppy Love.” From there, the discs roll through the decades, mixing well-known hits with previously unreleased tracks and demos. Included are a few of her duets with Porter Wagoner, whose popular television show Dolly appeared on numerous times. Of course, I’m not that big on her “9 to 5” days, but I have to admit to a bit of nostalgia for “Islands in the Stream.” Kenny Rogers! Listening through the set chronologically, I realized how much Dolly’s voice matured through her career, changing from a squeaky girl into a strong-sounding woman. Sure, I probably like her earlier work a little more than I do her more recent stuff, but capturing that wide range of material–more than four decades worth of music–made me realize how cohesive it really all is. If you’re not familiar with Dolly’s work and easily chalk her up to Dollywood and big breasts, you should do yourself a favor and pick this up. You’ll soon learn what lies beyond her caricature.

Cold, Cold Heartbreak Express,


Old Poop!