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* box set *

Recorded: 1947-52

Released: Oct. 11, 2005

Rating: 4.720 (average of 2 ratings)

Genre: country

Quotable: --

Album Tracks, Disc 1:

  1. Honky Tonkin’
  2. Rockin’ Chair Money
  3. I’m a Long Gone Daddy
  4. I’ve Been Down That Road Before
  5. Moanin’ the Blues
  6. I Heard That Lonesome Whistle
  7. Rootie Tootie
  8. You Better Keep It on Your Mind
  9. Settin’ the Woods on Fire
  10. Wearin’ Out Your Walkin’ Shoes
  11. Too Many Parties and Too Many Pals
  12. Ramblin’ Man
  13. Tennessee Border
  14. Howlin’ at the Moon
  15. Move It on Over
  16. Hey, Good Lookin’
  17. Leave Me Alone with the Blues
  18. Lost Highway
  19. Honky Tonk Blues
  20. There’s a Tear in My Beer

Album Tracks, Disc 2:

  1. Lovesick Blues
  2. Wedding Bells
  3. A Mansion on the Hill
  4. I’m Free at Last
  5. My Love for You Has Turned to Hate
  6. Your Cheatin’ Heart
  7. First Year Blues
  8. On the Banks of the Old Pontchartrain
  9. May You Never Be Alone
  10. A House without Love
  11. They’ll Never Take Her Love from Me
  12. I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry
  13. Let’s Turn Back the Years
  14. I’m So Tired of It All
  15. Cold, Cold Heart
  16. You Win Again
  17. Please Make Up Your Mind
  18. Fool about You
  19. Weary Blues from Waitin’
  20. I Can’t Escape from You

Album Tracks, Disc 3:

  1. I Saw the Light
  2. Thy Burdens Are Greater Than Mine
  3. Calling You
  4. Wealth Won’t Save Your Soul
  5. The Pale Horse and His Rider
  6. Beyond the Sunset
  7. Are You Walkin’ and a Talkin’ for the Lord?
  8. Let the Spirit Descend
  9. The Battle of Armageddon
  10. Alone and Forsaken
  11. Drifting Too Far from the Shore
  12. A House of Gold
  13. Where the Soul of Man Never Dies
  14. How Can You Refuse Him Now?
  15. A Tramp on the Street
  16. Lost on the River
  17. When God Dips His Love in My Heart
  18. ‘Neath a Cold Gray Tomb of Stone
  19. I’ll Have a New Body (I’ll Have a New Life)
  20. Angel of Death


sales in U.S. only --
sales in U.K. only - estimated --
sales in all of Europe as determined by IFPI – click here to go to their site. --
sales worldwide - estimated --


peak on U.S. Billboard album chart --
peak on U.K. album chart --

Singles/Hit Songs:

  • Move It on Over (8/9/47) #4 CW
  • Honky Tonkin’ (7/3/48) #14 CW
  • I’m a Long Gone Daddy (7/24/48) #6 CW
  • Lovesick Blues (3/5/49) #1 CW, #24 US. Sales: 1 million
  • A Mansion on the Hill (3/5/49) #12 CW
  • Wedding Bells (5/14/49) #2 CW
  • Lost Highway (10/1/49) #12 CW
  • I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry (11/26/49) #43 CW
  • They’ll Never Take Her Love from Me (10/7/50) #5 CW
  • Moanin’ the Blues (11/18/50) #1 CW
  • Cold, Cold Heart (3/3/51) #1 CW, #27 US
  • Howlin’ at the Moon (5/26/51) #3 CW
  • Hey, Good Lookin’ (7/14/51) #1 CW, #29 US. Sales: 1 million
  • I Heard That Lonesome Whistle (10/20/51) #9 CW
  • Honky Tonk Blues (3/1/52) #2 CW
  • Settin’ the Woods on Fire (10/11/52) #2 CW
  • You Win Again (10/11/52) #10 CW
  • Your Cheatin’ Heart (2/21/53) #1 CW, #25 US. Sales: 1 million
  • Weary Blues from Waitin’ (10/10/53) #7 CW


One of Time Magazine’s All-TIME 100 Albums.

Turn Back the Years – The Essential Collection
Hank Williams
“Hank lived and died before the advent of the album, and numerous collections have overcompensated by lassoing the entirety of his scattershot output. This Mercury three-disc set omits a few of the big hits (most notably his last, ‘I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive’) but each of Hank’s major themes – honky tonk, heartbreak and gospel – gets its own 20-song disc that blends standards with obscurities. What links all the material is the simplicity of Williams’ approach. There are few extraneous nouns, barely any adjectives – and no drums at all. Just a man confident that his voice and his guitar can convey everything in his sad, sad, heart” (Tyrangiel/ Light).

With all due respect to Tyrangiel and Light, the DMDB would not recommend this box set as a starting point for anyone looking to explore the music of Hank Williams. The thematic approach to this set makes this much more an attempt to create three Hank Williams’ albums, when most fans are looking for a hits collection. Williams’ highest-rated album on the DMDB is 40 Greatest Hits. It certainly is not a “scattershot” collection; instead it gathers two discs worth of hits that could well be the starting and end point for most fans. That collection lives up to its name, assembling 40 greatest hits, while Turn Back the Years doesn’t particularly gather “essential” Hank Williams at all. Of the 60 songs on this collection, only about a third also show up on 40 Greatest Hits. It seems odd to call a collection “essential” that omits that many popular songs.

In any event, the DMDB recommends you check out 40 Greatest Hits before diving into this set. Check out the link below to read more about that album.

Review Source(s):
  • Josh Tyrangiel and Alan Light, Time Magazine’s “All-TIME 100 Albums” (11/13/06)

Related DMDB Link(s):

40 Greatest Hits (1947-52)

Last updated November 12, 2008.