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Hank Williams Jr.

I'm One of You – 2003 (Curb)

Reviewed by Ken Burke

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CDs by Hank Williams Jr.

It takes sheer nerve for Hank Williams Jr. to take such well-known songs as Jerry Reed's "Amos Moses" and Joe South's "Games People Play" and turn them into gospel fed Southern rock, and you can hear Bocephus reveling in his own audacity. This joyous abandon also applies to his zydeco-laden answer to world problems, "Why Can't We All Just Get A Long Neck," wherein he segues into a scatting ad-lib version of his dad's "Jambalaya." By contrast, his version of T.G. Shepard's "Devil in a Bottle," one of the few ballads, plays out like a wrenching confessional almost too personal to overhear.

The 11-song set isn't all cover songs, however. In great voice and employing an electric, honky-tonk rock back-up group, the 54-year-old Hank Jr. gleefully lays into two clever drinking songs - "Liquor to Like Her" and "What's On the Bar" - and one of his best ever bad boy anthems "Just Enough to Get Into Trouble." Looking for heart? The self-penned sound-alike tribute to his pal Waylon Jennings, "Waylon's Guitar," and babyboomer conflicts espoused in "I'm One of You," elicit sobering emotion even while the listener chuckles at specific memories.

The fact that this release is so different from 2001's "Almeria Club" speaks volumes about Williams' emotional and artistic range. The previous disc was a serious roots music statement. This one provides a helluva fine party.