By Alanna Nash
Updated November 12, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

In his prime, Williams was a god in the South. Even more, ”he was welcome at our table, that dead man, because he was us,” Rick Bragg proclaims in his liner notes for this two-CD set, culled from the singer’s Opry appearances (1949-52). You hear that, not only in his jaunty performances—but also in the audience’s spontaneous, wild applause. This is Hank as his original fans knew him. A-