March 18, 2010

Speaking of overdubs, I have been thinking about them recently in the context of Hank Williams and Chalino Sanchez, who I think are arguably the most overdubbed of all performers. This is, admittedly, a completely invented supposition, but it has the ring of truth.

There are a stunning number of overdubs of both of their material in all genres. These two happen to have almost perfectly malleable styles that can be reborn in a new body for a new life (to paraphrase a song overdubbed for Hank). That is really not something to be overlooked, the ability to meet all markets. Maybe Dylan is one of the few others who could do that without effort. But that was selling the songs, with Hank and Chalino we are talking about the same performances deftly remade into new songs entirely.

Hank's home recordings of the "me and my guitar" era are even remade into fingerpopping kinds of songs with some seriously appalling overdubs (such as "fool about you"). Chalino songs are repackaged on everything from norteƱo to mariachi. They are all great.

Both of these masters died at the height of their popularity and in their singing prime, so there was a compelling need to find more stuff to sell in the waiting markets.

For Hank it is easy to figure out which were the original recordings because you can hear them and also there are some obsessive discographers out there. For Chalino it is something like trying to figure out which of the gospels came first.

(or do they know that? I can never remember. A good one to save for Undismayed Bible Questions and Answers. No, I have not forgotten about that important work. I am in the interrogative stage.)

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