Weak. Shallow. Lame. Insipid. All of these words have been used at some point (by me) to describe country music. I fucking hate what passes for country music today and thankfully, so does Hank Williams III. He knows that the crossover into pop music in the late eighties/early nineties signaled the death of whatever creativity or credibility was left in the genre. Couple his lineage with his disdain for the current state of the genre, and he really has no better qualifications to give country the huge kick in the ass that it so richly deserves.
He's been called an outlaw, a maverick, and a whole lot more. If we were talking about anyone else, the whole thing would have the egg salad fart smell of P.R. spin. There have been other musicians that have been called the same, but one listen to them and you know they're full of shit. Take one listen to Straight to Hell and you know that we're talking about a true dissident raging against the Nashville machine. If you're still not convinced, consider that when he's not doing honest-to-goodness country albums, he's playing with Superjoint Ritual, The Melvins or his own hardcore band, Assjack. Hank's smart enough to know that by Nashville standards - that's kind of stuff is "long-haired faggot hippie shit", and he'll throw it back in their face with songs like "Thrown Out of the Bar" and "Dick In Dixie".
Sample lyric: So I'm here to put the "dick" in Dixie / and the "cunt" back in country / 'Cause the kind of country I hear now days / is a bunch of fuckin' shit to me
Subtle, no. But in a genre that's become known for banal ambiguous love songs, it's good to know where you stand.
For those unfamiliar with the man, his voice at first is going to piss you off. You're not going to get it. The absurdity of his twang is at first going to sound ridiculous but just listen to the songs and give it a chance. It'll all become clear. Just don't mistake for irony. There's no gimmick to be found. Hank III creates music that's more sincere than most artists in any genre that you can name.
An important thing to take note of: there's two versions of the album out - a "clean" version that's only one disc and has no parental advisory tag, and a two-disc version with the tag. The latter is the one to get. The second disc consists of only one song - "Louisiana Stripes" and 45 minutes of what could possibly be the first ambient country song in existence. A bit indulgent to be sure, but well worth searching out if you're going to get the album. Which you should. You really should. I'm looking to convert the cynical bastards with this review, folks. I was once like you. If you like what I'm saying, get the damn album. I wouldn't steer you wrong. I haven't yet, have I?