Haulin' Ass

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Hellstomper's best album is the one that contains the fewest original songs and the most inspired cover choices. This is not a coincidence. As a frontman, Alan "The Goddamn" King has plenty of crusty hard-boogie charisma, but the band's own songs never quite match the sleazy promise of titles like "Ass, Gas or Grass." There are two exceptions here, the rip-snorting title track and a pleasant acoustic guitar and harmonica instrumental, "Sunday Drive with Sweet GA Brown," which rocks surprisingly hard thanks to its roller coaster-like tempo shifts. But the majority of Haulin' Ass consists of balls-out raunch-punk covers of classic truck driving anthems and other car tunes. The song selection is inspired; instead of yet another version of "Six Days on the Road" or, God forbid, "Convoy," ZZ Top's "Arrested for Driving While Blind," Chuck Berry's "Promised Land," and Motörhead's "White Line Fever" all find common ground. Even the less-than-reverent take on Queen's "Fat Bottomed Girls" (the unlisted bonus track) rolls along with sly good humor. This is the Hellstomper disc to start with, and for some, it's also not a bad stopping point.

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