Hank Williams, Jr.

The Pressure Is On

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Still hanging out with producer Jimmy Bowen, Hank Williams, Jr.'s The Pressure Is On continued his streak of winners that began back in the 1970s with Hank Williams, Jr. & Friends. Williams concentrated more on his songwriting here and nailed two of his most famous compositions, both of which were Top Five singles that flew in the face of a Nash Vegas establishment that, while it had co-opted the outlaw movement (Mel Tillis released an album called I'm an Outlaw -- yeah, right) couldn't quite get with Williams, despite the fact that he sold tons of records and had a host of young fans the Music Row think tanks should have been happy to cultivate. But like Steve Earle, Williams wasn't interested in any sort of compromise; he'd had enough during his lifetime. The two tracks that garnered the most airplay and notice from this set are "A Country Boy Can Survive," its own redneck anthem of rugged individualism during the Reagan years, and "All My Rowdy Friends Have Settled Down," a tale of the aging and settling of the outlaw generation from Waylon to Kristofferson to Willie. (Funny, David Allan Coe isn't mentioned.) But there are other amazing tracks here as well: the title track with its bluesy front end and in-the-dark shadow vocal; the silly but poignant, rocking bluegrass stomper "The Coalition to Ban Coalitions"; the metaphorically astute "Weatherman"; and "I Don't Care if Tomorrow Never Comes." In addition, the cover of Jimmie Driftwood's "Tennessee Stud" here rivals Johnny Cash's version more than a decade later, and the Emerson/Emerson rocker "Ramblin' in My Shoes" is tougher than leather and sharper than a Buck knife. It's another rock & roll country album from Williams, and a good one to boot. The man is on a roll.

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