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Hank Williams Jr.

The Almeria Club And Other Select Venues – 2002 (Curb)

Reviewed by Ken Burke

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CDs by Hank Williams Jr.

Recorded principally at the Almeria Club, an Alabama place Hank Sr. once played, this 12-song set is the gutsiest display of roots-music prowess ever by Hank Williams Jr.

Williams joyously whoops through the rockabilly boogie of "Go Girl Go" and bluesy swing of "If The Good Lord's Willin'," the latter a Hank Sr. song found in a shoebox and fleshed out by Hank Jr.

Western swing permeates both the declarative "X-treme Country" and salacious "Big Top Women." Bluegrass newcomers Nickel Creek really light a fire under the backwoods anthem "Outdoor Lovin' Man," while hip-hop icon Kid Rock attempts rebel harmony on the hilarious cautionary ode "The F-Word."

Providing spiritual context is the gospel-soul testimony of "Cross On The Side Of The Highway," featuring a spoken passage by Bishop Marvin E. Donaldson. By contrast, the post 9-11 saber-rattler "America Will Survive" feels out of place. "Almeria Club's" most remarkable moments occur during William's turns as Delta Blues alter ego Thunderhead Hawkins on the down and dirty "Last Pork Chop" and the atmospheric tribute to the man who taught his dad to play guitar on "Tee Tot."

At the creative top of his game, Ol' Bocephus thumbs his nose at contemporary radio with these evocative sounds.