A Six Pack to Go

by: Hank Thompson

1965 was the year Hank Thompson & His Brazos Valley Boys began a run of drinking records, and this was the first. A Six Pack to Go is a classic by any country music standard: It is full of honky tonk songs, heartbreak songs, a couple of polkas, and a few Western swing tunes to boot. With all of the songs centering around drinking -- the title track, "Drunkard's Blues," "Hangover Heart," the Bob Wills/Tommy Duncan classic "Bubbles in My Beer," "Honky Tonk Town," and the downright depressing "Hangover Tavern" among others. The delivery Thompson gives them is all but depressing, however. He is a bouncy singer with a band that always plays on the right side of honky tonk and has Western swing in the heart of everything they play. But what sets A Six Pack to Go apart from many of Thompson's other recordings is the playing of guitar icon Merle Travis kicking it on the lead. He bends and turns notes no matter how laid-back the track. Thompson's effortless delivery stands in sharp contrast to this and makes for a startling kind of intensity in the proceedings. Each song is a furthering of the journey into alcoholism, its cause -- usually women -- and no cure. While the songs have a cherry feel to them, this is one dark record, and there is no redemption anywhere present. A classic. ~ Thom Jurek

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