“Lost Highway”: Hank Williams + Chet Atkins & Friends

One other prominent (and tragic) artist from country music’s early years to get the cosmetic posthumous remix is Hank Williams, whose death in 1953 in no way stopped MGM from issuing new product for the marketplace (often multiple albums per year) through 1981 and beyond.  Hank Williams, for instance, was the recipient of an added string section on at least three albums — not to mention the backing of Nashville’s finest on one key track – “Lost Highway” – that appears to have been embellished in a 1968 overdub recording session and later issued on 1977’s Hank Williams’ Greatest Hits Vol. 2:

[Pssst:  Click the triangle above to play “Lost Highway” by Hank Williams & Friends.]

Lost HighwayThanks to the Hank Williams Discography for identifying the names of the musicians who helped modernize Hank’s original recording in order to give it that “Nashville Sound” —

  • Hank Williams (vocals & guitar)
  • Chet Atkins (electric guitar)
  • Sammy Pruett (electric guitar)
  • Tommy Jackson (fiddle)
  • Jerry Rivers (fiddle)
  • Don Helms (steel guitar)
  • Eddie Hill (rhythm guitar)
  • Jack Shook (rhythm guitar)
  • Floyd Chance or Ernie Newton or Cedric Rainwater (bass)
  • Owen Bradley or Fred Rose (piano)

Date of overdub recording session:  September 26, 1968

Jimmie Rodgers: First to Be Posthumously Produced?

Believe it or not, Sean Combs isn’t the first person to fashion new musical product from older material created by commercially viable artists who are no longer extant.  Far from it.

Back in 1955, twenty-five years after Jimmie Rodgers’ passing, RCA Victor convened an overdub recording session in Nashville with members of Hank Snow’s backup band, The Rainbow Ranch Boys, along with Chet Atkins.  “In the Jailhouse Now #2” is but one of Rodgers’ classic recordings that received a little posthumous sweetening:

[Pssst: Click the triangle to play “In the Jailhouse Now #2” by Jimmie Rodgers & Friends.]

Is it possible that Jimmie Rodgers is the first musical artist whose recordings would be retooled post-mortem to meet the needs of an ever-changing marketplace?

Jimmie Rodgers 78

Interesting to note that “In the Jailhouse Now” (1928) & “In the Jailhouse Now #2” (1930) were both released as B-sides.

Thanks to PragueFrank for identifying the names of the musicians who helped modernize Jimmie’s original recording in order to give it that “Nashville Sound” —

  • Jimmie Rodgers (vocals & guitar)
  • Chet Atkins (electric guitar)
  • Joe Talbot (steel guitar)
  • Tommy Vaden (fiddle)
  • Ernie Newton (bass)

Date of overdub recording session:  March 18, 1955
Recording location:  RCA Victor Studio, Methodist TV, Radio & Film Commission
Producer:  Stephen Sholes

“Ranjana”: West Meets East

Chet Atkins’ 1967 RCA album, It’s a Guitar World, finds him on the back cover under the banner, “The International Guitar of Chet Atkins”:

Chet Atkins LP - back cover

Producer Bob Ferguson writes the following about “Ranjana” in the album’s liner notes:

[“Ranjana” and “January in Bombay”] are India’s attendants at this musical U.N. feast.   Harihar Rao, an outstanding musician from India, stopped by Nashville en route to Bombay.  Nothing would do but that he and Chet combine talents — Rao on the sitar and the gopi, a kind of drum with a pull string on it (like a miniature “washtub” bass).  On the first selection the sitar learned an American folk tune; on the second Chet’s guitar learned Hindi.  The sympathetic harmonics and quarter-tone scale of the sitar are unusual to the Western ear, but they provide a cosmopolitan setting for Chet’s own sensitive finger style.

Guitar World Chet Atkins LP

“Ranjana” was recorded September 6, 1966 at RCA Victor Studios in Nashville.

“Bye Bye Birdie”: Groovy Guitar & Organ Instrumental

Chet Atkins’s guitar sounds mighty and majestic when propelled by the infectious, burbling rhythms of an unnamed organist in this treatment of “Bye Bye Birdie” from Chet’s 1963 album, Teen Scene — dig that groovy roller rink organ sound.

Note the original album cover:Teen Scene I cover

Check out the new and improved cover for the 1975 reissue on Pickwick Camden:Teen Scene II cover-x