July 2006

Hank Williams III - Straight to Hell
Curb Records D2-78938
Format: CD
Released: 2006

by Shannon Holliday

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****

This latest release from Hank Williams III goes a long way toward establishing a name for the artist in his own right, although being born into country-music royalty hasn’t hurt his career. Check out this two-disc recording and you’ll see that Williams is surprisingly adept at blending his outlaw country roots with his own experimental punk style, single-handedly creating a genre many have termed "honky-punk" and that Williams himself calls "hellbilly."

On disc 1, praise for the legends of country permeates several tracks, be they musicians (Cash, Coe, Haggard) or cultural icons (Jesco White, the late Hasel Atkins). Common country themes such as whisky, women, weed and guns arise in every song, while slick pickin’ and a voice that at times sounds eerily straight from the grave adds professional credibility. Disc 2 goes abstract with 42 minutes of experimental echoes, feedback, and manic, satanic laugh tracks, displaying III’s creativity and marking a distinct step into uncharted territory.

Two warnings about this album: Explicit lyrics abound, and beware those sellers like Wal-Mart who not only censor its lyrics but have opted to "modify" the finished product further by selling versions that do not include two of the more controversial songs.