Tributes to Hank Williams have been around since about 30 seconds after the country legend's death. Some have been heartfelt and well-done and others have been so bad as to arouse suspicion that the artist might have been personally responsible for snuffing the Hillbilly Shakespeare..
Fortunately, that's far from the case with this new tribute, split between the Welsh band the Rimshots and the British group Rusti Steel & the Tin Tax. Each contributes eight songs; one being an original composition written as a tribute to Williams and the other seven covers of songs associated with the man. Of the originals, the Rimshots' "If Only Hank Had Lived a Little Longer" is probably the the stronger of the two, partly due to John Lewis' vocals bearing an eerie resemblance to those of the song's subject.
Each band took different tacks in choosing their songs. The Rimshots leaned towards songs written by Williams ("Honky Tonk Blues," "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," etc.) and Rusti Steel has largely tackled more obscure numbers that were, in all but one case, written by Fred Rose and others. The production (by Big Six drummer Ricky Lee Brawn) has the warm vintage sound associated with Brawn's other production jobs.
An excellent tribute well deserving of its success in Europe over the past several months. (BeBe, AmEchterpohl 5, 33619 Biefeld, Germany)