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The Classic Decades Presents Hank Snow, Vol. 1

Hank Snow

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Album Review

In the '50s and '60s — arguably Hank Snow's most productive decades — the Canadian singer was as important to country as Dizzy Gillespie was to jazz, Tito Puente was to salsa, and Ray Charles was to soul. Thus, anyone who is seriously interested in classic country could never be satisfied owning just one Snow CD. But novices have to start somewhere, and for those who have not experienced the richness of Snow in his prime, The Best of Hank Snow, Vol. 1 is a good, if imperfect, starting point. Originally released as a vinyl LP in the '60s and reissued on CD in the late '80s, this collection of '50s and '60s hits is hardly the last word on Snow's legacy. But if this 32-minute, 12-song collection only scratches the surface, it is a highly appealing surface. Novices need to hear the most essential stuff first, and essential is definitely the word that describes major hits like "I'm Movin' On," "I've Been Everywhere," "The Rhumba Boogie," and "Bluebird Island." Essential is the word that describes something as fun as "Music Makin' Mama From Memphis," and it describes something as sentimental as "I Don't Hurt Anymore" — a gem that spent an amazing 20 weeks at number one on Billboard's country chart in 1954. A lot of essential hits from the '50s and '60s are missing, and other best-ofs by Snow are more comprehensive; for example, I'm Movin' on and Other Country Hits (which RCA put out in 1990) offers 20 songs instead of 12. But while The Best of Hank Snow, Vol. 1 isn't ideal, it still offers a rewarding (if brief) taste of Introductory Snow 101.


Born: 09 May 1914 in Brooklyn, Nova Scotia, Canada

Genre: Country

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

Canada's greatest contribution to country music, Hank Snow was famous for his "traveling" songs. It's no wonder. At age 12 he ran away from his Nova Scotia home and joined the Merchant Marines, working as a cabin boy and laborer for four years. Once back on shore, he listened to Jimmie Rodgers records and started playing in public, building up a following in Halifax. His original nickname, the Yodelling Ranger, was modified to the Singing Ranger when his high voice changed to the great baritone that...
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