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Hank Thompson

Vintage Collections – 1996 (Capitol Nashville)

Reviewed by Jon Johnson

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CDs by Hank Thompson

In 1989, Capitol released a superb 20-track Thompson collection as part of its now-defunct "Collectors' Series." "Too" superb, apparently, since it, along with most of the rest of that series, was deleted last year. Capitol rectifies part of that mistake with the release of this excellent new collection, featuring nine songs from the earlier collection, plus another 11 songs not previously re-issued by Capitol. Though this new collection skips a few of Thompson's major hits ("Squaws Along the Yukon"), many are on CD for the first time, including what appears to be an alternate version of "How Cold-Hearted Can You Get." Of interest to guitar fans is the heavy presence of Hank's close friend Merle Travis on lead guitar on most tracks. Two solid western swing instrumental workouts, "Wildwood Flower" and "Big Beaver" (both featuring Travis' guitar work) from a 1954 all-instrumental session also are of note. Along with Capitol's re-issue of Thompson's "Live at the Golden Nugget" earlier this year, this is an essential purchase for fans of his blend of honky tonk and western swing.