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Hank Williams Jr.

Old School, New Rules – 2012 (Blaster)

Reviewed by Dustin Blumhagen

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CDs by Hank Williams Jr.

Hank Williams Jr. is one of those people who are as famous for their personality as their music. He has never been shy about expressing his particular opinion about anything. Bocephus never lets a chance to flaunt his political ideals pass, and his latest album is his most passionately right wing to date.

The irony of the political focus is that Bocephus uses the image of the "working man" to serve as the choir for his sermon, much like Bruce Springsteen's magnificent "Wrecking Ball" (which had a more left wing slant). Both men seem to represent a growing dissatisfaction with the way the U.S. is being run, even if they have very different ideas of the solution. The point of this comparison is to illustrate that despite Hank Jr.'s strong political views (he is a supporter of the Tea Party) the underlying theme of "Old School, New Rules" is actually relatable to country fans who are proud members of their union local.

Songs like Takin' Back the Country , We Don't Apologize for America and Who's Takin' Care of Number One are scathing criticisms of the American government, while simultaneously ironically spouting patriotic rhetoric. None of these songs succeed in invoking the emotion of "127 Rose Avenue's" Red, White & Pink Slip Blues , but Stock Market Blues is a honky tonk look at the state of the economy that adds some much needed lighthearted humor to a serious topic. The standout track steps away from the heavy material and looks at the history of country music rebels like Jerry Lee Lewis, Marshall Tucker Band and Hank himself, while a couple of drinking duets ( I'm Gonna Get Drunk And Play Hank Williams with Brad Paisley and I Think I'll Just Stay Here And Drink with Merle Haggard) add a little distraction from the overly serious tone.

The first release on Hank Jr.'s label Bocephus Records (in conjunction with Blaster) is a little more disjointed than the triumphant return of "127 Rose Avenue," but it is better than anything else he has released over the past three decades. By blending his well known strong personality, rocking blues numbers and the required cover of his father's work (You Win Again), Hank Jr. has produced a strong debut.