On the surface it might appear punk and country have little in common. But at their most basic both feature bare-bones music relying on a few chords fuelled by passion and a "do it yourself" approach to production and recording. Any doubts you may have about their compatibility, at least in the hands of Hank 3 (as he now calls himself), will be laid to rest upon listening to Ghost To Ghost and Guttertown, released September 6 on his own Hank3 label. These two albums, packaged together as a double-disc set, comprise just half of the four-disc assault that Williams is launching this week.
Attention Deficit Domination and 3 Bar Ranch Cattle Callin' are the other two, both of which represent the decidedly harder edge of his repertoire. I have a limited appetite for speed metal, though, so this review will concentrate on the country/punk/hellbilly set.
If you've had no experience with this hellbilly music, you may be in for a bit of a surprise. A song called "Cunt of a Bitch" isn't exactly the kind of country music you're used to hearing played at the Grand Ole Opry. As far as I'm concerned, however, since that place has done more to to ruin country music than any other so-called institution in America, that's a good thing. The Opry still refuses to recognize the contributions of Hank 3's grandfather to country music, which ought to tell you more than enough. Hank 3 has set up a page at his website, Reinstate Hank Williams, where you can sign a petition asking the Opry to reinstate Hank.
Ghost To Ghost definitely won't be on the Top 10 playlist of Tipper Gore and her cronies who worked so hard to label albums with explicit lyrics lest the innocent children have their ears ravaged. But damn if it ain't music that will put the fear of God into any God-fearing, hate-mongering asshole. Not only will the lyrics burn the paint off most automobiles, the music is an all out assault on the ears as well. Turmoil, anarchy, the threat of random violence, cursing, substance abuse and everything else people pretend they don't partake in six days a week while they're mouthing their prayers in the pew on the seventh is packed into the 10 songs on this disc. So called American values take a well deserved beating as Hank 3 and company rip a hole right into the heart of darkness at the rotting core of a nation caught in downward spiral. If you can't hear the greed and excesses of the last 50 years being indicted on this disc, you're not listening. Your ears may bleed and your mind may reel, but you won't be bored and you won't ever mistake it for that "New Country" bullshit.