Straight to Hell (Curb)
We don’t know what the hell he was thinking, but we’re amused that he did it. Country-rocker Hank Williams III, in addition to dropping the “Williams” from his name, has the longest hidden track in the world on a bonus CD on his latest album. We can’t exactly call it the “hidden” part, because a loony 42-minute soundscape with railroad trains, running water, burning fire, laughing children, eerie voiceovers, a street preacher, a strange answering-machine message from “Frank,” and what sounds like demos recorded in somebody’s kitchen would be hard to miss. We can’t say whether this was an artistic fuck-you to Nashville, or if you’d even want to hear it twice, but it would probably sound great while stoned.
So what about the actual songs? As it happens, this is probably Hank’s least self-conscious album since he started making records. Previous discs sounded like any old piker toeing the line between country and punk, but on Straight to Hell he really does sound like he stopped caring about expectations and decided to make the album he wanted to make. He’s vowing to put the “dick” back in Dixie, the “cunt” back in country, and the parental advisory sticker on the cover so you know where he’s coming from.
Traditional country backed with a punk attitude is not an original idea in 2006, but to quote the late Lou Rawls, it’s also “supposed to be fun.” No binding chains here; Hank III sounds like a kid at recess.—James Porter