Doug Fieger – Tribute to Hank Williams (review)

Doug Fieger – Hankerings – A Tribute to Hank Williams (Zen Records) CD review

The estate of the late frontman for the Knack has done a great job of issuing some interesting material since Fieger’s untimely death in 2010.  And, while a tribute to the king of hillbilly music may seem like a stretch for the guy who penned “My Sharona,” upon further review – Hankerings – A Tribute to Hank Williams is not that far of a stretch.

Even though the Knack have always been compared to the Beatles (same record label, similar title to their debut album, and LOTS of hype), they really were closer in spirit to early rockabilly (they even cover Buddy Holly’s “Heartbeat” on Get the Knack).  And the jump from Holly to Hank is a small hop at best.  Fieger’s sister found the tapes of these four songs in Doug’s house after his death, but they were unfinished.  Producer Richard Bosworth called in original Knack member Berton Averre to add lead and rhythm guitar to the tracks.  The result is fun mix of rockers and ballads that puts Fieger’s talents in a slightly different light.

The first track, “Hey Good Lookin,’” is a spirited rocker that could’ve easily fit on a Knack record.  As an added treat, The Cars’ guitarist Elliott Easton adds a signature slinky lead to the song.   Fieger gives the two ballads, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” and “I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still in Love With You),” a gentle reading with tasty slide guitar from Averre.   “Jambalaya” has a shuffle beat and is good fun.  The playing is great, the performances are spirited, and best of all, Fieger is in fine voice – he still sounds like the same guy who asked the goofy question “When you gonna give me some time-Sharona”?  Here’s hoping his estate continues to unearth gems like this.  –Tony Peters