on 12 September 2009
Hank Snow was an innovative and very intelligent recording artist. By the time he recorded this album in 1958, he had been on RCAs books for nearly twenty years, and he knew his business. The themed album is common today, but the LP had only been in existence since the early 50's, and most artists simply viewed it as a way of shipping more product to the punter in one packet. Hank didn't. He understood that fans and listeners wanted to buy something that linked material together in a way that radio didn't, or wouldn't. Another classic album of the period was his Old Doc Brown album of narrations.
So, Hank knew that sad songs had a long tradition in country music, and surprisingly for some of the alarming themes, had real popularity. What better than to package some of the most popular, and in a flash of genius, RCA produced one of the truly memorable record covers of all time. The burning newspaper is as vivid today as when I bought my copy of the LP over 50 years ago.
And the songs? These were well known to Hank who had performed most of them in concerts, honing them to his style, and they blend seamlessly. Mind you, its a fairly rich mix, there is an organ in there, a bit of a nuisance at times, and perhaps a return to Hanks earlier instrumentation would have been better. Standouts? Well, Old Shep is superb, better in my opinion than Presleys, who always admired Hanks version. Letter Edged in Black is classic, and the old songs like Put my Little Shoes Away are long standing friends.
It is nice that this album is reissued in the original form, albeit on CD, because on compilations the concentration of the songs is lost. And that is the albums strength. It is unlikely that any country artist would ever make such an album again because in modern times such songs would appear rather ghoulish to the modern sense of being hip. In 1958 they were seen as an essential part of the country music canon, and there was no better interpreter of weepers than Hank Snow.
on 20 May 2012
This music takes me back about 60 or 65 years. The first time my Dad sang these songs, (the songs were by other people also, at that time) was when I was 06 months old,He build a crib so He could watch me as he drove the boat and thus,sang to me all the way up to Alaska,and that's how it all started. Any time we went on vacation after that he always sang,the songs on "When Tragedy Struck"
This CD means the world to me as it brings a little bit of a very happy time in my life back to me.
on 18 February 2012
I'm delighted that the old Hank Snow LP "When Tragedy Struck" LP on CD as my old LP was getting worn out from constant play. Often after hearing it I and my family would be so convulsed with laughter the LP got scratched in our eagerness for a replay. So the new CD is very welcome! I hope someone will be able to re-issue some more hilarious C&W songs - there's a wonderfully sickening one by Hank called "D.I.V.O.R.C.E." which will make you weep with laughter.
One thing: a playing time of only 36 minutes is just a TEENY bit MEAN for a CD. After all, the manufacturers could easily have squeezed a few extra tracks on. At least another 12 in fact at 3 minutes per track. And then we could have had all Hank's other tragic songs about divorce, premature death and so on.
In spite of the short measure this is well worth buying as the worst taste disc ever. Guaranteed to bring a smile to your face!
on 2 August 2010
A botle of gin, and wrists taped up as Hank wrings every emotion out of you, Old Shep is a 'sing-a -long' compared to the rest of the Album, death, divorce, children crying, dogs dying, what more could you want, BRILLAINT