A new album from Hank Williams III is always a revelation: first, because it came out at all (his relationship with his label is as stormy as the marriage of his legendary grandparents); and second, because of its content and execution. This 2 CD set includes the songs 'Things You Do To Me' and 'My Drinkin Problem'. The second disc features a 42-minute hidden track. Atlantic. 2006.
A new album from Hank Williams III is always a revelation: first, because it came out at all (his relationship with his label is as stormy as the marriage of his legendary grandparents); and second, because of its content and execution. So it's something of a miracle to see a 2-CD set of some of III's most hardcore Hellbilly (as opposed to the relentless screaming of his Assjack), especially as a number of the songs had been scheduled to appear on his unreleased 2003 album Thrown Out of the Bar. Hank III calls the new offering--recorded mostly on a $500 machine, for a DIY sound--a "thrill ride into a life of sin." This may explain the fact that Straight to Hell, which opens with some old-fashioned gospel and abruptly ends with the sound of a belly-laughing Satan, comes with a parental advisory sticker. He earns it, all right, especially on "Dick in Dixie," which is not a song about a man named Richard. As usual, III spends a lot of time pointing out what's wrong with Nashville; worshiping pills, weed, and wine; and self-mythologizing. But when he gets down to business, putting his graddaddy's bray on such songs of misery as "Angel of Sin," well, all is forgiven. III also gets big points for the second disc's 42-minute hidden track, a self-indulgent but brilliant pastiche of sound comprised of a Hank Sr. song ("I Could Never Be Ashamed of You"), snippets of a Wayne "The Train" Hancock tune, a fragment of a song III wrote with ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons, a little Cheech and Chong, as well as assorted sounds of a speeding train, runaway horses, pig snorts, a gunshot, and some hellfire-and-brimstone preaching. A drug-laced dream? The soundtrack to that journey to Hades of the album title? Damned interesting, either way. --Alanna Nash