We have Taylor Swift and then we have Hank III. The former is the public face of country music today. Sweet, sassy, cute-as-a-button and considered the real deal because she "writes all or part" of all her songs. Hank Williams III is the real real deal. Brash, outspoken and doesn't give a fuck. He will never be the public face of country music. In part, because of his legacy. In part, because of his extracurricular musical activities but largely in part to the fact he's been waving his cock at the country music establishment for many a year. III takes us back to a simpler time when country music wasn't in the conscious minds of the general public. It was a lesser known quantity, not largely embraced and thus, in some circles, considered dangerous.
This is the fourth album from III and it's the perfect continuation of 2006's Straight to Hell, the perfect dichotomy of country as it's known today but with a punk ethos picking away at the scab to reveal what it's really all about, showing the seedy underbelly of Americana to those who might not otherwise have known it was there all along.
The album opens with "The Grand Ole Opry (Ain't So Grand)" which has really become the rallying cry for the "Reinstate Hank" campaign - a grassroots organization calling for the remittal of Hank Williams to the Grand Ole Opry. It's been over fifty years since the dismissal of Williams but that hasn't stopped the Opry from pimping out his image and likeness whenever possible, which has become the key point of contention in the campaign.
"P.F.F." (get the album to figure it out) is a prick-kicking ode to the late, great shitmeister of chaos, G.G. Allin, whose band the Murderjunkies often served as tourmates for III and his Damn Band.
Damn Right, Rebel Proud continues with all the trademarks of III that those familiar have come to know and love. Songs of drugs and guns, boozin' and brawlin', but the real highlight of the album is the penultimate track, "3 Shades of Black." This is without a doubt, the finest song of III's career. This one song which is a quiet number in comparison to others on the album encapsulates everything that the man is about. This song and this album is how country music should be - not the watered down castrated shell it's become.
I would even venture so far as to say that Damn Right, Rebel Proud can be for those who don't even like country music. At the very least it serves as a wake up call - challenging the listener to reclassify a genre that they may have purported to know or even dismissed providing perspective with a whole new set of ears.