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The late ‘50s. A time of crushing
conformity. Of well-manicured
lawns, white picket fences, and
men in grey flannel suits.
Not in Hank Thompson’s world.
With its tales of drunkenness,
prostitution , drug abuse, gambling and vagrancy—not to
mention one of the most notorious album covers in the history not just
of country music, but of all popular music—Thompson’s 1959 LP Songs for
Rounders remains one of country’s most essential albums. It all started
when Thompson brought Ken Nelson, Capitol’s head of country A&R at the
time, a song he often featured in his live performances called “Cocaine
Blues.” Nelson told him there was no way the song would ever get any airplay
as a single, but suggested it might work as part of an album concept.
Thompson then proceeded to round up a collection of tunes taken from
every walk of American popular song and every walk of American life—like
the walk taken in Dallas’ red light district in “Deep Elm.”
The spirit of the album even extended to the photo shoot. After the cover
shots were taken in the morning, Thompson spent the rest of the day in the
studio recording. He then went down the street to a bar and found one of
the women who had posed with him. She had been drinking since the shoot
had ended. She didn’t even remember him.
This Real Gone vinyl reissue offers the optimum way to experience this
landmark album. Remastered by Maria Triana at Battery Studios in New
York, cut by Peter Black at FM Mastering, and and manufactured on 160-
gram vinyl at Bill Smith Custom Records, this release features the stereo mix
of Songs for Rounders, as this record was not only Hank’s first stereo
recording but also one of the earliest country albums to be released in
stereo (just wait ‘til you hear some of those sparkling Merle Travis leads)!
And, we have included an album-size insert with a full-color reproduction of
the album cover suitable for framing on one side and notes from Grammy®-
winning liner note writer Colin Escott on the other. Essential American
music released in its original format, with improved packaging to boot.
Three Times Seven
I’ll Be a Bachelor Till I Die
How to Swim
Deep Elm; Bummin’ Around
Left My Gal in the Mountains
May I Sleep in Your Barn Tonight Mister