Straight To Hell

Straight To Hell

5.0 3
by Hank Williams III
     
 

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If this isn't 2006's best country album, it will most certainly be the year's most notorious. The first of Straight to Hell's two discs is a tour de force of hard, traditional country that honors Hank Williams III's bloodlines in all dimensions, especially when it comes to what his dad called "the family tradition" of self-dissolution. But

Overview

If this isn't 2006's best country album, it will most certainly be the year's most notorious. The first of Straight to Hell's two discs is a tour de force of hard, traditional country that honors Hank Williams III's bloodlines in all dimensions, especially when it comes to what his dad called "the family tradition" of self-dissolution. But III has never been shy about trumpeting his sporting pleasures in life, which he does, vocally, on the foreboding honky-tonk lament "Country Heroes," a tune that references George Jones, Merle, Waylon, and even his granddaddy, and captures the spirit in a telltale chorus ("I'm here gettin' wasted / just like my country heroes"). On this set of covers and original songs, Hank spices up his blend of rock and country instrumentation with ghostly tape loops here and there. Highlights include the rumbling "Pills I Took," the bluegrass-inflected, hard-country breakdown "Smoke & Wine" ("I'm drinkin', I'm druggin', I'm havin' lots of fun"), and "Dick in Dixie," a breakneck workout excoriating contemporary country music ("I'm here to put the dick back in Dixie / the c*nt back in country"). Disc 2 is something else again, beginning with a trim, thumping prison ballad in the Johnny Cash mold, "Louisiana Prison Stripes," before moving on to some incredible pared-down musical performances with sound collages. The musical interludes include a stunning eight-minute stretch of honky-tonk blues, evocative of Hank Sr.'s publishing demos, whereas the soundscapes feature, oh, nearly two minutes' worth of cattle stampeding and nearly three and a half minutes' worth of water running, children laughing, and wolves baying -- for starters. It's "Revolution #9" times five -- altogether unlike anything any other putative country artist has dared release. If you have to ask why, you know where to go.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Mark Deming
Anyone hoping that Hank Williams III's "Hellbilly" metal band Assjack would finally make it onto one of his albums is still out of luck, but Hank III's third solo effort Straight to Hell comes close to getting their no-quarter spirit onto plastic, if not their sound. Taking the no-frills hard-country sound of 2002's Lovesick, Broke & Driftin' as a starting point, Straight to Hell pumps a good bit more darkness into the mix; mostly recorded at home on a digital portastudio, Straight to Hell begins with a sample of the Louvin Brothers' "Satan Is Real" interrupted by a burst of demonic laughter, which then segues into the title tune, a testimony to a life of cheap thrills and dangerous living that sounds like a classic string band rounding the corners at 90-miles-an-hour with empty bottles of bourbon propping open the windows. A similar mix of old-school country and chemically-fueled rebellion run through songs like "Pills I Took" and "Smoke and Wine," and even the less menacing tunes like "My Drinking Problem" and "Angel of Sin" boast too much swagger and grit to fit comfortably on the radio next to Toby Keith or Gretchen Wilson. While Hank III's self-mythologizing outlaw stance is not entirely unlike that of his father, there's a crazier and more sinister energy to Straight to Hell than Bocephus has ever conjured up on record, and numbers like "Country Heroes" and "D. Ray White" eloquently testify to his notion that bad craziness is a long and rich tradition along the margins of Nashville. (He also has a few things to say about Hank Jr. hanging out with Kid Rock on "Not Everybody Likes Us" to confirm he's most certainly not turning into his dad.) The album's most extreme departure point, however, is the bonus audio collage "Louisiana Stripes," which combines a handful of high-lonesome tunes with layers of ambient noise, bits of found dialogue, dub-wise echo and reverb effects, stray telephone messages, and sound effects ranging from thunderstorms to gurgling bong water. There's a pure and soulful musical vision at the heart of Straight to Hell no matter how much Hank III lashes out against the confines of current country music and messes with the form, and that's what makes him most valuable as an outlaw -- there's lots of long-haired dope-smoking rednecks out there, but not many that can tap into the sweet and dirty heart of American music the way Hank III does, and Straight to Hell proves he's got a whole lot to say on that particular subject.
Entertainment Weekly - David Browne
Country's equivalent to rock revivalists like the Strokes, Hank III sings and writes honky-tonk the old-fashioned way, and vocally, he's a ringer for his scrawny-voiced grandfather. (A-)

Product Details

Release Date:
02/28/2006
Label:
Curb Records
UPC:
0715187886926
catalogNumber:
78869
Rank:
10917

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Hank Williams   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Piano,Electric Guitar,Vocals,Background Vocals,Shouts
Shaun McWilliams   Drums
Scott Vestal   Musician
Randy Kohrs   Acoustic Guitar,Dobro,Pedal Steel Guitar,Background Vocals,Tenor (Vocal)
Tia Sprocket   Background Vocals
James Mitchell   Guitar
Johnny Hiland   Electric Guitar,Soloist
Eric Borash   Musician
Donnie Herron   Fiddle,Claw Hammer Banjo
Rod Janzen   Electric Guitar
Stephen Mougin   Mandolin,Vocals

Technical Credits

Ira Louvin   Composer
Charlie Louvin   Composer
Cheech Marin   Composer
Wayne Hancock   Composer
Hank Williams   Composer,Engineer
Jim Lightman   Engineer
Keith Neltner   Illustrations
Michael Latterell   Engineer

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Straight to Hell 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If your idea of country music is Kenny Chesney, Big and Rich and Carrie Underwood then this brand of whiskey will be an assault on your pop-soda taste buds.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hank Williams III does not get the respect he deserves. Nashville absolutely refuses to acknowledge his existence, country radio won't play him, the CMA's probably doesn't even know he exists, yet they should all be groveling at his feet. Toby Keith likes to say he's a country rebel, I guess if plastering your face and singing songs on Ford truck commercials is rebellious then I'm out of step. Love him or hate him, this album should be winning every single CMA award hands down but wasn't even nominated for one. But the country powers that be have a long history of turning their backs on it's greatest talents (Hank Sr. was basically blacklisted for going against their mold.)This record will bridge the gap between hardcore honky-tonkers and hardcore punk rockers, (which I used to think would be impossible.) The country establishment needs to realize the treasure that they are throwing away here. There was no other country album released this year, pop country is not country. THIS is an absolute country MASTERPIECE.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago