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Hank Thompson

Cover to Cover: The Best of Hank Thompson 1966-79 – 1996 (Varese Sarabande)

Reviewed by Jon Johnson

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CDs by Hank Thompson

Though deservedly best-known for his outstanding Capitol hits recorded between 1947 and 1966, the quality of Hank Thompson's work rarely flagged in his later years with Warner Brothers, Dot and MCA. And if the hits were coming less frequently than they had in those heady years at the Capitol Tower, they were at least still coming regularly while staying true to Hank's trademark blend of western swing and honky tonk.

While at first glance this new Thompson collection appears to cover some of the same territory as MCA's fine 1992 collection of Hank's 1968-1978 recordings for Dot and MCA, the two collections only have five of their 32 songs in common. Though not as well-remembered as most of his Capitol hits, later numbers like "On Tap, In the Can, Or In the Bottle" and "I've Come Awful Close" were the equals of his earlier work, and 1967's re-recording of "Wildwood Flower"reunites Thompson with the always amazing Merle Travis, who played on most of his '50's hits for Capitol.

With Hank Thompson's new album of duets due soon, the time is right for fans to catch up with Hank's career. While no substitute for a collection of Hank's Capitol hits, Varese's new collection of his later years is a worthy purchase, nonetheless.