Hank Williams III

Long Gone Daddy

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Hank Williams III and Curb Records had a contentious relationship through most of the 14 years he was signed to the label, and Curb hasn't exactly been going out of its way to get in his good graces since he's moved on. Long Gone Daddy is the second "new" Hank Williams III Curb has released since his contact with the label ran out at the end of 2010; 2011's Hillbilly Joker was a slightly reworked version of a hardcore punk/metal album Curb refused to release when it was originally submitted, and 2012's Long Gone Daddy is a set of old-honky tonk tunes featuring unreleased outtakes from Williams' first two albums for Curb, Risin' Outlaw and Lovesick, Broke and Driftin', filled out with material drawn from various compilations and a duet with Joey Allcorn from the latter's album 50 Years Too Late. Given the cut-and-paste nature of this album and the fact the bulk of it was previously deemed unworthy of release, the pleasant surprise is that Long Gone Daddy isn't bad at all. Hank III is a sure hand with old-school honky tonk numbers, and the covers of classics by Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Hank's grandfather Hank Williams, Sr. are great stuff, sung with all the twangy commitment they deserve. Hank III's own "What They Want Me to Be," like Allcorn's "This Ain't Montgomery," suggests that his philosophical differences with Curb were there right from the start in their tales of struggling against the Nashville mainstream. And with the absurd dance remix of "If the Shoe Fits" that closes the album, the label twists their knife into Williams one more time. For fans who prefer Hank III's purer hillbilly style over the more rock-oriented material that has come to dominate his work, most of Long Gone Daddy will be a short (33 minutes) and sweet reminder of his earlier and less frenetic days, but it's difficult for anyone who cares about Williams' music to not see this and Hillbilly Joker as blatant displays of disrespect toward an artist who dared to follow his own creative path.

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