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Hank Williams Jr used to be a big favourite of mine, but after a while he fell foul of becoming too big for his boots. As he continued to press forth claims of the ways of the Americana South. His songs became no more than average as he focussed more on rock more than country and became not only predictable but boring! Yet, on the other side of things it is a measure of his ability and staying ability that he still has a record deal and in touch with the social conscious of the American people (the album is dedicated to all hard working Americans).
The record underlines he is once again writing some good stuff (and mellowed non) as he speaks on ‘Old School’. Of a young Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton (that he relished) and how Jerry Lee Lewis played at his house, and of how he was no over-night success but worked up his own rules and won through. Of course, he does beat his chest as he speaks of his pride in America (‘We Don’t Apologize For America’ —that has Merle Haggard lend harmony vocals and, on talking of which Hank also covers a song of his, ‘I Think I’ll Just Stay Here And Drink’) waxed with his view of Washington DC’s interference with the people. Like in ‘Who’s Taking Care Of Number One’ —that is plied in steel, electric guitar, fiddle and clarinet Jnr tells it how it is. Apart from the Haggard cover, and a version of his father Hank Snr’s ‘You Win Again’ (which contains a snatch of him singing ‘Mind Your Own Business’ on the typical Hank Jr ‘Takin’ Back The Country’) all other cuts are penned by a man proud to be a member of country music's old school.

‘Stock Market Blues’ is full of wry humour and swipe at men in business suits, and how they manipulate figures and people too. Though Hank sometimes overplays themes on occasions this is acceptable such is the quality of this his best release in years. Coupled with his cheating song ‘Three Day Trip’ and a fine ‘I’m Gonna Get Drunk And Play Hank Williams’ containing additional vocals from Brad Paisley the former noted cut they are all keepers. Oh, did I mention the musicians who too are hot; as Greg Morrow, Mike Johnson, Rob McNelley, JT Corenflos, Mike Brignardello, Howard Duck, Larry Franklin and Hank play some great inspirational country music. Everyone may not have a pick-up truck stand in the yard but they can own at least one Hank Williams Jr album.

Maurice Hope

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May 2018

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