They finally released a track list for the new Hank III Collector’s Tin available for pre-order now, and coming out on August 19th. The first tracks are as you would expect, in order how they were released on CD. But check out the last tracks:
40. Down In Houston
41. I Could Never Be Ashamed Of You
42. Smoke & Wine
43. Alone & Dying
44. On My Own
45. Back by My Side
46. Take My Pain
47. What’s His Name
48. Down In Houston
49. Up In Smoke
50. Louisiana Stripes
In other words, they broke up the tracks on Straight to Hell CD 2. I know a lot of purists will be pissed off about this, but I think it’s a good thing and I’ll tell you why:
I like disc 2 and I like listening to it how it was meant to be listened to, from beginning to end with no interruptions, with all the ambient sounds leading from one song to another. BUT, I understand that some people just are not wired to do that, and so they don’t listen to that disc at all. That’s a shame, because songs like ‘Take My Pain,’ and ‘What’s His Name,’ are some of Hank III’s best stuff. If you want to listen to the first version you still can, but now people who want to hear those songs but don’t want to fight through all the other stuff will have the option.
It also just makes the Collector’s Tin unique, so it’s not like buying something you already have, and hopefully it gives some more attention to these songs because they deserve it.
So when I was looking at that track list, it made wonder about the reviews Straight to Hell got when it first came out. STH’s impact was huge in country music. Even people who don’t or didn’t like the music would have to admit that. It was the first country music album ever to have a Parental Advisory, the first to have a ‘clean’ version for Wally World. It was the only album recorded with a home recording device to be released by a major Nashville label. And then there’s disc 2.
So was all of this stuff well publicized? What did the critics say? So I did a Google search, and look at the garbage I dredged up:
“April 4, 2006 – Hank Williams III is the third generation of a country music dynasty. But with his new CD, Straight to Hell, Williams forges a path his famous grandfather probably wouldn’t have expected unabashedly embracing excessive drinking, fighting, drugs, general hell-raising and even Satanism.”
First, is this a review or a blurb?? And Hank III’s grandfather wouldn’t have expected:
2. fighting –yup.
3. drugs –Hank Williams died of OD dumbass
4. hell-raising & Satanism —“On the road of sin I have paid the cost” is how Hank Sr. put it, and hey, God and Satan are dance partners, read the Bible you fucknut.
“On this two-disc set, recorded on the cheap, Hank III’s classic honky-tonk moves bump up against his bar-rocking efforts to “put the dick in Dixie and the cunt in country.” “Low Down” reminds non-fans he can write a sad song worthy of his granddad, and raucous two-steps like the Kid Rock-dissing “Angel of Sin” give hard-drinking cliches a punkish boot in the ass.”
Okay first, “Not Everybody Likes Us” is where Hank III disses Kid Rock. Did you even fucking listen to the goddam album? These are the fuckers they got reviewing albums at Rolling Stone, and meanwhile I’m writing some semi-obscure blog? Ugh, it makes me sick. Oh, and he rated it 3 out of 5 stars, while fans rated it 4 1/2 stars.
This was the only review I thought was worth a shit. She rated it 4 1/2 out of 5 stars, and said she liked the music, but not all the cussing which is an opinion I don’t agree with, but I respect.
“If you want a solid country album with great songwriting and singing then ‘Straight to Hell’ is for you. Hank III obviously likes to push the boundaries a little bit while still keeping an overall true country sound. If you don’t like hearing swearing you might want to buy the clean version if you feel like giving the album a try.”
But when reading all of this stuff, I did not find what I was looking for. I was looking for Nashville or the media or ANYBODY to size up the impact that Straight to Hell had, and help communicate that to the masses, even if they didn’t like the music.
That’s why the way Hank Williams III has been dealt with by the powers that be is an injustice. And why I will not give up my fight until the scales of justice tip toward the fair and balanced level, and Hank III’s role in the history of country music is given a fair shake.