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Risin’ Outlaw by Hank Williams III

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I’ve had the 1999 album Risin’ Outlaw by Hank III repeatedly inflicted on me by the old man. The boy looks and sounds significantly like grandpa, and Pops is pretty determined to like him.

Hey, I want to like the record, but the songs are not there. They all sound like grandpa, only without the inspiration. The songs mostly are watered down re-writes of Hank Sr. Indeed, my dad seems to think that they are cover versions of grandpa’s songs, though they are in fact credited as original songs. I haven’t bothered to correct him.

The biggest display of skill in these songs is lawyerly, making something that sounds as close as possible to classic Hank Sr without being legally actionable plagiarism. In practice, this mostly means dispensing with the identifiable hooks.

On top of which, he kept re-writing the same couple of songs. You could pretty well sing a karaoke “Mind Your Own Business” over top of “Why Don’t You Leave Me Alone”- and a couple of the other “original” songs as well.

The boy does have a good vocal instrument, courtesy of grandpa. If someone hooked him up with some decent songs, he might do well enough. He tried very hard to make a good record. It IS a real country record, not pop-glossed Garth Brooks crap.

However, he just doesn’t seem to have the personal inspiration or vision. He learned heartbreak from listening to grandpa’s records and outlawery from listening to dad’s records. It comes across as book-learned country rather than lived experience. There’s just nothing that’s distinctly Hank III here.

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  • TBuchanan

    I am not sure if you are listening to the same album that the est of us are! Obviously you have never met the man and you don’t know anything about him. He is truly an inspired artist and if you don’t think that he is and you call yourself a critic, maybe you should find a new profession.

  • I Love ALL the Hanks’ Music!!!!!

  • Whiskygirl, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. Maybe Hank III has some other record that’s good- this one didn’t motivate me to seek them out. But this one just isn’t there. It’s paper thin re-writes of grandpa’s hits. Yuck.

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but liking all the Hanks’ music sounds like chauvinism to the family brand name, rather than judging this record for itself. Not that I’m so superior- I tried to talk myself into liking Julian Lennon records. Heck, I tried to talk myself into liking Yoko Ono records for awhile.

  • Rick Arcenia

    I grew up listening to HW SR. When I heard Hank III sing ‘Thunderstorms & Neon Signs’ I almost lost it. The boy has talent in his genes and there’s no getting around it. I’m not crazy about his punk stuff but that’s just a personal thing. Hank III is the best there is today. I just hope he doesn’t wreck his voice and I pray that he keeps singing country music. Long live Hank Williams III. His grand daddy would be proud.

  • Your a critic?
    Dont quit your other job.

    Hank III is the only true outlaw our generation can truly call our own. And talent well lets just say he has that a plenty

  • i,m 35 and thought i cold relate to sr. and jr.s music. when i heard III in 99, especially “straight to hell” now, todays phonie country singers( definately not artist) should learn from him

  • Mike, “phonie” is exactly the best word for this Hank III record. There’s not a hint of anything about this individual person in this crappy re-write of grandpa’s catalogue. Because of his genetics, he may have produced some of the most accurate fake Hank Williams Sr vocal sounds ever- but that’s it.

    Having had to hear this load of crap several more times in the three years since I originally wrote this review, I’m looking at it again now. I was simply way too generous. If the boy needs money and can’t make a living with his own music, he should just drive a frickin’ truck or something. There’s no shame in honest work.

    There IS, however, shame in grave robbing, and that’s pretty much what this nonsense is.

  • Vern Halen

    Genetics gave him his Grandad’s voice. I don’t know how much of his recent album is real and how much is posturing, but so much of the rock / pop/ country biz is made of posturing anyways, so I figure he’s either a true country rebel or else he’s sure putting on a good show. The only way to find out fer shure is if he dies an early death due to hard livin’.

    Yee haw – ain’t it great when ya can’t tell the real world from a whiskey dream?