Almeria Club, Hank Williams Jr. Curb Records
There are many words for trash but, like that rumor about Eskimos and synonyms for “snow,” the English language may as well periodically add to its list. First among nominations: “Bocephus,” closely followed by “Almeria” and “Club.” This first word being Hank Williams Jr.”s stage/nickname, and the second and third words being his latest album”s title. Almeria Club should be dealt with as is other garbage: Some should be recycled, some incinerated and the rest shipped to Canada.
The little salvageable material on Almeria Club comes, not surprisingly, from sources other than its main “attraction,” Hank “Bocephus” Williams Jr. It comes instead from the supporting musicians. Almeria Club sports some fine sidemen. The guitar playing, particularly the slide guitar work, comes off as well utilized and technically flawless. Though it, and the rest of the record, suffers from widespread over-production. There are also some fine fiddle figures, and plenty of unremarkable-but-proficient piano playing. Wrested from Jr.”s grimy fingers, his backing band could enhance the country records littering pickup truck beds and (most disturbingly) top 40 charts.
First in the incinerator”s fire go Bocephus” lyrics. Almeria Club”s four opening tracks are standard country fare, with some bluesy nods, but the trouble begins with number five, “X-Treme Country.” Citing influence from the likes of the “X-Treme Games” and “X-Treme Generation” (whatever that may be), Williams declares himself “XXX X-Tremely Country.” It”s all downhill from there. “Big Top Women” salutes well-endowed women in the manner of sleeze-trying-to-be-concealed-as-humor. Then, on a more morbid note, “Cross On The Highway” reads not like a poetic ode to two dead friends (one a football player whom Hank “Are You Ready For Some Football?” Williams Jr. met through his long-standing association with the NFL), but like a boring news report. Willaims croons, “Now Derrick Thomas was a champion no one can deny that / He led the Alabama Crimson in all time total sacks.”
As if one tribute song would not suffice, Almeria Club speaks to the nation in “America Will Survive,” a Sept. 11-inspired salute to nationalism. If American country music keeps up like this, you may want to catch that compost barge across the border.
If only it wasn”t so snowy … er … slushy …