Hank Thompson

New Version

Old Version

****Collectors Series (Capitol, 1989)
**Best of the Best of Hank Thompson (Gusto, NA)
***All-Time Greatest Hits (Curb, 1990)

One of the veteran, and last, practitioners of small band variety western swing, Hank Thompson had a prolific run of hit singles spanning the years 1946 to 1958. Without benefit of new material, he has continued to work steadily and draw appreciative audiences to his good-time music. Bob Wills reached for poetry; Thompson's songs are low humor, and proudly so. It takes quite a man to write and perform "Waiting in the Lobby of Your Heart" and "The Blackboard of My Heart" -- and what about "Squaws Along the Yukon"? -- with a crooked smile and jaunty manner, and still be taken seriously. Beloved as these songs are, Thompson created one genuine classic in "The Wild Side of Life" (1952), which spawned an answer record -- one of the most important recordings in country music history -- in Kitty Wells's "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels." However off-center his songs, Thompson and his band, the Brazos Valley Boys, have always been a proficient outfit. The Collectors Series album contains the most essential of Thompson's early tracks; the shabbily packaged Gusto album is for die-hards only. -- D.M.