Wednesday, June 6, 2012

"Montana Cafe" by Hank Williams, Jr. (1986)

View the Premise & Ground Rules for Revisiting Vinyl

Filed between: Hank Williams (duh) and Edgar Winter

My Overall Rating of the Tracks Separately:
Average (2/4 stars)
[Editor's Note: The rating is only this high because of the strength of two tracks.]

Guest Artists:
On vocals, Willie Nelson (makes sense), Reba McEntire (okay), Tom Petty (well, I guess he IS from the South) and Huey Lewis (wait, what?).
On guitar, the legendary Dickie Betts - but you'd never know it.
On autoharp, June Carter Cash.

I think I'm gonna have to go through this mess one track at a time...

Side One is eighties Hank.  Eighties Hank is easily my least favorite Hank, except for right-wing nutjob Hank.  Eighties Hank is like all eighties country; it's slicker, cleaner and a little more precise.  It's a homogenized, processed product - you know, like American cheese.  Matter of fact, I think that's what I will call eighties country music from now on.

Even so, "Montana Cafe" starts out strong with Country State of Mind.  This is more a key track for defining the Bocephus sound than it is a key track for this particular album.

Up next is the title track.  I would call Montana Cafe obvious filler, but it's the bleeping title track.  So, it makes me think Junior was legitimately trying on this one, so I'll have to call it a monumental swing-and-a-miss.

And then it goes to shit - literally - with lines about being crapped on by pigeons, all the while fiddles two-step to the beat.  [Sigh.]  This is why some people hate country music out of pocket.

Then we get, "hey, let's write a sad ballad about how lost love is like New Coke!"  I wish I was making that up.  When Something Is Good (Why Does It Change) is one hundred percent NOT Are the Good Times Really Over.  There are few simple, sacred rules in country music - one of the most fundamental being "thou shalt not try to improve on Haggard."

Side one gasps out with bland ragtime and vocals that make you wonder if Junior had a stroke.

Side two is blues Hank.  Blues Hank has always been my favorite.

You Can't Judge a Book  by Looking at the Cover proves that you can't go wrong with a Bo Diddley cover.  Of course, Huey Lewis' vocals and harmonica own anything that Hank brings to this particular party.

My Name Is Bocephus is not nearly as good as you country fans will insist that it is.  Hello again, Mister Nostalgia Filter.

Oh my God.  Somebody decided it was a good idea to combine an authentic polka band (tuba and all) with cheesy eighties synths on a song called Fat Friends about how the obese keep Bocephus from scoring.

To close, Junior just sucks every ounce of life out of one of his dad's best songs.  And once again, the Bocephus delivery is eclipsed by his guest (Petty).

So, is it an album?  No.  Overall, it's just a waste of talent, good production and our time.  I'll take seventies Hank over eighties Hank any day.

Up next, Marvin Gaye's ode to divorce and our first studio double LP - "Here, My Dear."

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