Straight to Hell is the third studio album by outlaw country/punk artist Hank Williams III. It is Williams’ first release since settling a contract dispute with Curb Records, and is one of the first releases on Curb’s new Bruc Records imprint. It is also the first ever country music release to merit both a parental advisory sticker on the package and a clean version of the album for more conservative retail outlets like Wal-Mart, due to language more suited to III’s punk rock side and some repeated drug and alcohol references. On his website, III encourages fans to support independent record outlets that are more willing to stock the uncensored version of the album.
Espousing the Do-it-yourself (DIY) ethic more associated with punk rock, Williams recorded the double album “in a house with a good wooden room in East Nashville” with a $400 Korg D 1600 digital workstation, handling producing and engineering duties along with his longtime Damn Band members JoeBuck and Andy Gibson, although instead of a “Produced and Engineered by…” credit, the Williams/Buck/Gibson triad were instead credited with “Settin’ up the mics, turnin’ the knobs and recording this record”. The results would inspire III to state that every musician should own their own workstation in order to take full control of their own music.
The first disc features Williams and his Damn Band along with a handful of professional guest musicians, and immortalizes several tracks that Williams had been performing in his live show for years, including the infamous anti-pop-country anthem “Dick In Dixie” (better known to longtime III fans as “Let’s Put The Dick Back In Dixie And The Cunt Back In Country”, and omitted from the clean version of the album entirely). Also notable on the album is “Not Everybody Likes Us”, where III openly insults Kid Rock, pointing out that neither Rock’s hanging out with III’s estranged father nor Rock’s being a “Yankee” would ever make him “the son of Hank”.
The second disc features a rawer III performing the song “Louisiana Stripes” (described by one reviewer as “a worthy successor to [Johnny Cash’s] ‘Folsom Prison Blues'”), as well as a “hidden” 42-minute track featuring a medley of other III compositions along with covers of his grandfather’s “I Could Never Be Ashamed Of You”, Cheech & Chong’s “Up In Smoke”, and Wayne Hancock’s “Take My Pain”, all linked with various soundbites and sound effects (voice mail messages, bong hits, passing trains, etc.)
Fans who bought the album in participating independent record stores were given a free 12″ picture disc that included the hidden track from disc two, split into two parts.