Risin' Outlaw

Risin' Outlaw 01. I Don't Know
02. You're The Reason
03. If The Shoe Fits
04. 87 Southbound
05. Lonesome For You
06. What Did Love Ever Do To You
07. On My Own
08. Honky Tonk Girls
09. Devil's Daughter
10. Cocaine Blues
11. Thunderstorms and Neon Signs
12. Why Don't You Leave Me Alone
13. Blue Devil


It's often been said that if Hank Williams himself came back to life today, he couldn't get played on mainstream country radio. With his raw, unabashedly twangy voice and simplistic arrangements, he'd be considered "too country" for a generation raised on Garth and Shania. RISIN' OUTLAW, by Hank Williams' grandson, Shelton Hank Williams (or Hank III, as he bills himself), provides a pretty good test of this theory. Not only is Hank III the spitting image of his late grandaddy, he sings just like him too--and on tracks like "You're the Reason" and "On My Own," the resemblance is downright eerie.

But Hank III's also got more than a streak of his dad, Hank Jr. in him--the CD isn't called RISIN' OUTLAW for nothing. He alludes to his propensity for bad behavior in "I Don't Know," and sings openly about snorting cocaine on "Cocaine Blues." Give young Williams credit--having the nerve to bill himself as Hank III invites instant comparisons with his grandfather and his father. On the attitude-filled RISIN' OUTLAW, he manages to do both of them proud, while carving out a niche for himself as a promising alternative country artist.

- Tower Records Review

Likely to be dismissed as a curiosity, but well worth serious consideration by anyone who remembers what gutsy, hard-hitting country music is all about. Eat this, Chris Gaines.

Paul Cantin, Jam Albums,

This is what rockin' country is supposed to sound like. Shelton Hank Williams, grandson of the country music icon, shows everything he's got on "I Don't Know," his debut's opening track: breakneck fiddle; fancy picking, equal parts Nashville and Macon; flexible rhythm section; wounded, piercing vocals; and unforgiving songs of rage, recklessness, and rejection. He then spends the rest of the CD refining it, song by song. As a writer, he has a real flair for imagery and the sturdy hook, and he also has good taste in remakes. Yes, there is some posturing; occasionally it feels like his nose for trouble, sense of despair, and wild eyes spring from listening to all the right records rather than out of anyone's real life. But for the most part, Hank III seems to come by these things the old-fashioned way: he earns them. Already. If he doesn't earn too much, he's going to do great things.

--John Morthland, Amazon.com

On his debut, Hank Williams III might easily be confused with Wayne Hancock - not surprisingly since Hancock has often been compared to Hank, Sr. Williams makes no secret of his admiration for Hancock. He covers three Hancock tunes and praises Hancock in the liner notes as the "Country Hillbilly King."

It also seems clear that Williams identifies more musically with his grandfather than he does with his father, Hank Jr. The connection to Hank, Sr. is best displayed in "On My Own," a Williams III original ballad complete with yodel. Other standouts include Kostas' "Honky Tonk Girls" and the Bobby Edwards classic "You're the Reason." Johnny Cash's influence is also evident on "Cocaine Blues" and "I Don't Know."

The weakest tracks are "What Did Love Ever Do To You" and "Devil's Daughter" which suffer from cliched hot country instrumentation and production. But even those are good songs on which Williams performs well.

Though comparisons are unavoidable, it is significant that the younger Williams chose not to cover any of his famous ancestors' songs. Hank III has given notice that he is ready to make his own contributions to the Williams legacy.

- Robert Wooldridge, Country Standard Time

Rolling Stone (9/30/99, p.87) - 3 stars out of 5 - "...a collection of tough honky-tonk numbers with vintage nuthin'-to-lose themes...sung in mournful coyote yodels and desperate-mean drawls....Hank III provides the white-trash kick in the ass that's been sorely missing..."

Entertainment Weekly (10/8/99, p.73) - "...This is as goose-bumpy good as [Hank Williams] Senior coming back from the grave." - Rating: B+

Pulse! Son of Hank Williams, Jr., Shelton Hank Williams plays the kind of rebellious country music that has made his family famous for generations. Wayne Hancock contributed three tunes and The Melvins' Dale Crover helps out on drums.

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