Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hank Williams III: Ghost to a Ghost / Gutter Town (2011)


If you're not already familiar with Hank Williams III, you should be. The grandson of the legendary Hank Williams and son of the equally legendary Hank Williams Jr., he embodies the outlaw mentality of underground country music. Most of us forget (or don't know) that there is such a thing as underground country, since what's passed off as country these days is just bad pop music with a twang. As Celtic Frost was to Poison in the mid-80's, so Hank 3 is to mainstream country. On top of that, he's been involved in projects with Phil Anselmo, and his shows are legendary for starting out country, turning punk, and ending metal.

Just released from a bad label deal (sound familiar?), Hank simultaneously released four albums: the weird speed metal / auctioneering experiment 3 Bar Ranch Cattle Callin, the stoner doom Attention Deficit Domination, and the double country album Ghost to a Ghost / Gutter Town.

I don't know much about country, but I like Ghost to a Ghost. There's a measure of metal in the formula, on evidence in "Riding the Wave" and the title track (which also has some tango). But mostly, it's old-school country with raunchy lyrics about sex and drugs, with a bit of silliness thrown in (Hank's dog Trooper provides vocals on one track). There's a little bit of "my wife left me, my dog is dead" kind of country ("Ray Lawrence Jr."), some dark Americana ("Time to Die"), and something that sounds kind of like Jerry Cantrell ("The Devil's Movin' In"). The songs are catchy and memorable, and there's enough metal to hook you in.

Sadly, Gutter Town should have been left in the gutter. It has disposable cuts (with a lot of accordion) that would make better B-sides and rarities, which is OK, but about half of it is useless ambient garbage. The last track features Les Claypool, and sounds like it should have been a hidden track on a Primus record. And that's one of the most interesting things on the 77 minute disc.

The Verdict: Ghost to a Ghost is a good time. I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars. Gutter Town is almost useless. I give it 1 out of 5 stars.

No comments:

Post a Comment