Del Shannon “Sings Hank Williams”

Sings Hank Williams began a string of excellent albums by Del Shannon that culminated with The Further Adventures of Charles Westover from 1968. Not only is this a great country album but many consider this one of the best records from the time. This disc was released in 1964 and predated the country-rock boom by a good 4 or 5 years. That alone makes it a significant release and a must listen for fans of early country-rock. But it’s Del’s performances and the group’s backing that make this a special show.

Throughout Shannon’s career he had reinvented himself many times over. In the early 60s he was a teen idol with the unforgettable hit “Runaway.”   “Total Commitment” and “This Is My Bag,” both mid 60s records, saw Del turn in two fine roots rock efforts. From 1967 to 1968 Shannon did the unthinkable: he went psychedelic, with two great, unsung records, 67’s And The Music Plays On and 68’s Charles Westover. During this time he proved that an early 60s rocker could survive into the late 60s’ experimental environment and still make great albums with artistic value. An amazing career no doubt, but who would have ever expected Shannon to release a hard core country album?

Every track on this LP is worth listening to. Shannon and his group give “Kaw-Liga” an updated, swinging rock n roll feel.  “That Lonesome Whistle,” possibly my favorite cut on the album, is a superb down and out country track with fantastic vocals – a real young man’s blues. The arrangements are very basic, with steel guitar leading the way – just listen to the great version of “Your Cheatin’ Heart” which opens the disc. “Ramblin’ Man,” another gem, is given Del’s soaring, minor key vocal treatment. There was a reason for the sparse, simple arrangements: Del was trying to capture the mood of Hank Williams’ original band, The Drifting Cowboys. Even more interesting is Del Shannon’s group, many of whom, such as Dennis Coffey, were well known Motown session players.

Del sang his ass off on this recording, giving us performances full of faith and honesty. So in this respect it was a shame that nobody was listening. Neither the rock n roll community or C&W crowd took a liking to this album. It was probably lost amongst albums by the Beatles and Rolling Stones during the first wave of the British Invasion. Sings Hank Williams is stripped down, raw and genuine. There are none of the hokey strings or sappy arrangments that plagued so many country records from this period. This is a great record that shows the true artistry of Del Shannon.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Kaw Liga”

;) MP3 Album | download at amazon ]
:) Original Vinyl


Also Recommended

5 Comments.

  • stewart

    thanks for introducing me to a side of DS I never knew about, I thought he’d disappeared after ‘Swiss maid’!

  • Ogie

    Thanks again for awakening those images I grew up with, Del, born Charles Westover in Coopersville, Michigan, was an inspiration to us in West Michigan who had dreams of rocking and rolling.

    Runaway, Little Town Flirt, Keep Searchin’, and his cover of Under My Thumb (after the Stones opened for him in England), were awesome, but you’re right. He was on the cutting edge, ALWAYS. He came back to Michigan in 1963 and told us about the blossoming music scene in Great Britain and predicted the British Invasion.

    Thanks to Tom Petty for bringing the light back to this star before his depression finally took hold and eventually ended his life! Tom produced one of his last, if not the last, recording Del ever did.

    Thank you again…for opening our eyes and ears.

    Would you like to help w/my new radio program??

    Ogie

  • Jason

    Sure, anything, anytime. One of my very favorite Michigan groups is the Rationals. I like the Index too but they are more psych – very underproduced too!

  • This is an interesting album. Del Shannon is great. Runaway is one of my all-time faves. And I love Hank too. What’s interesting to me is that Del is better than expected crossing over into the honky tonk genre. But that said, the arrangements and treatment is so close to the original, that you almost wonder what’s the point. Nobody can sing these songs like Hank did, so I’d almost rather here an R&B or a bluegrass treatment just to hear a different take.

    For Hank fans, this album is worth having because it is one of the better tributes. Similar to the George Jones tributes to Hank from the same era.

  • I am so glad that many people in the US remember Del Shannon. He is a god to the people in the UK.

Leave a Comment