There are albums that are a blast to listen to, and there are albums that sell loads of copies. Also, there are albums that help totally redesign music into something different than what it was before they were issued. The first two do not always render another one’s meaning. Often, inspiration does not always associate with sales and pleasure. Whether the wide population identifies these records or not, they are the projects that change music, as we know it. Some songs widen potentials and become so powerful that the music can be heard in the bones of uncountable other albums and songs crossing well into the future. Hank Williams, III’s “Straight To Hell” album was one of those.
Hank III’s “Straight to Hell” was debatably the first record to exemplify this truth in country music at large. It was the first Do-It-Yourself album to be released in the country music industry proper. Hank III recorded it on a piece of consumer electronics, a Korg D-1600 digital workstation. All budget for power and production came from Hank III’s hands and label Curb Records. He had a little help from bass player, Joe Buck, and steel guitar player, Andy Gibson. Hank III set all budgetary limitations aside and permitted his imaginative juices to flow until it leads to a double album work of art.
Despite the magical humble creation of ”Straight To Hell”, it was also the first album released to include a parental advisory sticker. The album unified angry country music listeners with its shameless country protest songs. It united country punks and country metal fans, however, for its hard edge. When you listen to the song, you know that it did all of this while still being very much a country record. It did not cross much of the line into country punk or country metal. Instead, it just offers something for neotraditionalists to enjoy.
Its most lasting legacy is the music itself. “Straight to Hell” was a concept record through and through. After all, time is the ultimate judge and critic of music.
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hank williams, III, straight to hell