Entertainment Weekly - 11/12/99, p.83
"...culled from the singer's Opry appearances (1942-52)....This is Hank as his original fans knew him." - Rating: A-
Q - 2/00, p.1044 stars out of 5
- "...a must-buy for any true believer....this is about as close as we're ever likely to get now to understanding William's power as a live performer. A beautifully packaged slice of real history."
NME (Magazine) - 12/18/99, p.286 out of 10
- "...Amid the cabaret turns there are plenty of interesting rereadings of his most famous songs...along with a glimpse of his God-fearing gospel persona....here Williams remains resolutely enigmatic. An intriguing document..."
Personnel includes: Hank Williams (vocals, acoustic guitar); Red Foley, Minnie Pearl, Rod Brasfield, Jamup & Honey, Wally Fowler & The Oak Ridge Quartet, Claude Sharpe & The Old Hickory Singers.
Compilation producers: Colin Escott, Kira Florita.
Recorded live at The Grand Ole Opry, Nashville, Tennessee, between 1949-1952.
Includes liner notes by Rick Bragg and Colin Escott.
Digitally remastered by Tom Ruff (Universal Music Studios).
LIVE AT THE GRAND OLE OPRY was nominated for the 2000 Grammy Award for Best Album Notes.
Liner Note Author: Colin Escott.
As the single most important artist in country music, Hank Williams bears a discography whose every element is of extreme historical import. While he recorded prolifically, live Williams records are decidedly in the minority. Before the 1999 release of LIVE AT THE GRAND OLE OPRY, the Health and Happiness radio shows and a few stray cuts here and there were all the public had access to in terms of live Hank. Like the Health and Happiness release, this album is taken from radio transcriptions.
The context these shows provide--Hank trades quips with Minnie Pearl and a host of comedians, and engages in plenty of aural glad-handing with the host and audience--makes the unadorned longing in Hank's voice and songs all the more striking. Listening to him detail (though not without humor) his miserable state on "Nobody's Lonesome For Me" while an enthusiastic audience happily claps along, adds an extra ironic edge to the already harrowing musical experience. LIVE AT THE GRAND OLE OPRY shows that Williams was a unique combination of happy-faced showman and broken-hearted troubadour, a man who could make people smile with a cry in his voice.