Seven Decades

Hank Thompson

Hightone Records, 2000

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


I admittedly got into country music late in the game (or, at least, as late as an almost-30-year-old can get), so there are many artists whose work I've never gotten the chance to appreciate. And the longer I do this job, the more exposure I get to such artists as Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash - even Garth Brooks, after a fashion.

So after I've finished Seven Decades, the latest release from Hank Thompson, I have to wonder out loud why Thompson is not as well known as Cash is. This disc serves more than as a celebration of the music Thompson knows and loves; it suggests that Thompson should be as famous as some of the more well-known names in this genre.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Thompson is reminiscent of such singing cowboys as Roy Rogers and Gene Autry, though he has the devilish wink of Cash's sense of humor in his delivery of the material (even if, vocally, he's not quite as strong as Cash). How he can swiftly maneuver through this collection of old standbys and new material while making everything sound fresh and new is truly amazing.

Need more proof than just my word for the comparisons? Take a listen to "The Night Miss Nancy Ann's Hotel For Single Girls Burned Down," or "Abdul Abulbul Amir," or even the newer compositions "Condo In Hondo" or "Medicine Man," and discover that Thompson makes the material sound like you're listening to it in the front row of a small stage in a bar. It's up-front, in your face, and it's enjoyable as anything imaginable.

And while Seven Decades does feature older songs like "Wreck Of The Old '97," "Scotch And Soda" and "In The Jailhouse Now," this is hardly a nostalgia trip that Thompson takes the listener on. The way Thompson and his bandmates attack the material, it matters not whether the song is a year or five decades old; it's in the delivery, which they nail head-on.

Sure, if you're not used to the older style of country, the 36 minutes this album encompasses might seem a little long at first. But the more time you spend with it, the more comfortable it will become, not unlike an old pair of tennis shoes. (And, if it helps, break the album up into two or three listens, and treat each trip to the CD player like you're listening to a few short stories.)

Seven Decades is the kind of album that proves Thompson should have been a bigger star than he presently is - and it may make some people feel sad that they didn't give him more attention in his (and their own) youth.

Rating: A-

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© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Hightone Records, and is used for informational purposes only.