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Rebel yells

On July 13 — for dramatic purposes, we’ll pretend it was a Friday — roots rebel Hank Williams III (a/k/a Hank III or Hank 3) posted good news on his Web site. Curb, the same Nashville label that caters to the clean country fare of LeAnn Rimes, had put dirty III’s new Straight to Hell down for release on September 13. (Okay, not a Friday.) Hank and his band were already on the road, playing new tunes like "Them Pills I Took," "Crazed Country Rebel," and the subtly accurate "Not Everybody Likes Us." As if the shadow of his famously tragic granddad didn’t hang heavy enough over young Hank, he’d also aligned himself with the original country outlaws — Waylon, Willie, Merle, etc. So it wasn’t an unexpected plot twist when September came and went with no Straight to Hell. On October 19, III’s Web site finally set the record straight: the now "tentatively titled [my italics] Straight to Hell will be in stores Tuesday, February 7th." The reason: "Distribution issues (i.e., the ‘No. 1 CD retailer in the world,’ refusing to sell the album at their stores) have resulted in the release date being changed a few times." Hank was already back on the road, splitting sets between his country band and Assjack, a full-on, Pantera-inspired metal outfit who ensured that he’d be booked into Axis a week ago Wednesday instead of a more roots-oriented venue.

Opener Laney Strickland set the tone with an end-of-set shout-out to music row: "Fuck Nashville!/Might as well call it cashville." Then the once disarmingly handsome Hank III — who since I last saw him five years ago has gotten three of Black Flag’s four famous bars tattoo’d on his left arm, picked up a bassist (Joe Buck) with a homemade GG Allin sticker plastered on his upright, and apparently been sleeping in his hat — arrived looking and sounding more eerily like his granddad than ever. "I’m drinking/I’m drugging/I’m having lots of fun," he boasted, with trad fiddle/pedal-steel backing, "I always carry ’round my ol’ shotgun." Meanwhile, an unmiked Joe Buck shouted "C’mon motherfuckers!" at nobody in particular. I’m not the first to say it, and I won’t be the last, but talent in the Williams family appears to have skipped a generation. So, it would seem, has a penchant for hard living. Indeed, if there’s any of Hank Jr. in III, well, maybe that’s what the generic metal of Assjack’s all about. Like most of the crowd, I moved toward the exit once the band switched to electric metal gear and Assjack screamer Gary Lindsey took over the mike. He wasn’t bad: it just didn’t stand up against the oak-barrel aged rebel yell of III.


Issue Date: November 11 - 17, 2005
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