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Workbench Songs

18 customer reviews

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Audio CD, November 21, 2006
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Workbench Songs, the new album from the legendary Guy Clark is his tenth studio recording and a continuation in the evolution of his mastery of song and craft. The man who gave us 'L.A. Freeway,' 'Desperados Waiting For a Train,' 'Old No. 1,' 'That Old Time Feeling' and 'The Randall Knife,' has delivered another song collection every bit as timeless as the best music of his career.

The title of this album would seem a tad precious applied to the releases of the majority of Nashville musicians. But Guy Clark--song craftsman, guitar builder--has been doing such finely measured work for all of his storied career that "Workbench Songs" aptly sums up the pride and precision he brings to these 11 offerings. Joined by cowriters Darrell Scott, Rodney Crowell, Gary Nicholson, Lee Roy Parnell, and Verlon Thompson, Clark is at turns wry and poignant in chronicling human acts great and small. And, as usual with his albums, a number of these songs resonate long after first listen. "Walkin' Man," a Celtic-flavored demo recording which kicks off the set, pays homage to the pilgrims and searchers--Gandhi and Woody Guthrie--who had the courage to make their own path. "Out in the Parkin' Lot," the Darrell Scott collaboration which Clark recorded on 1997's live Keepers, has a more lived-in feel here, and better captures the novelistic scene of roadhouse rowdiness. ("Now there's a couple of cowpokes puttin' up their dukes / There wasn't much to it after both of 'em puked.") Clark knows how to deliver these gems with optimum emotional impact: His cover of Townes Van Zandt's aching "No Lonesome Tune" goes bone-deep despite its underplayed pathos, as does "The Randall Knife"-ish "Funny Bone," about a rodeo clown brought down by faithless love. But he's no less affecting on "Tornado Time in Texas," a jaunty country-blues tune spiked with a shuffle chorus ("Blow the tattoo off of your arm"), or on "Cinco De Mayo in Memphis," a wildly surrealistic snapshot of Mexican deckhands in the blue-suede-shoes territory of Graceland. Last year, the Americana Music Association honored Clark with its Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriter. This album is further proof that he deserved it. --Alanna Nash

Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 21, 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Dualtone Music Group
  • ASIN: B000G8NW7Y
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #90,752 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Freudian Slips VINE VOICE on September 17, 2006
Format: Audio CD
I've been a fan of Guy Clark since Jerry Jeff Walker first sang "LA Freeway" in the early 70s. His distinctive husky voice speaks of roadworn weariness, someone who's lived a long tough life. (And I suspect he sounded that way at 30...)

This disc opens powerfully with two great numbers: "Walkin' Man" and "Magdalene". Both will have you humming the tunes in short order. Morgan Hayes does the harmony vocals-- I would have sworn it was Nanci Griffith. "Tornado Time in Texas" and "Expose" are classic Guy "Texas two-step" songs-- fun beat and bouncy. Clear the dance floor. "Funny Bone" reminds me of Randall Knife and other Clark story-telling ballads. "Out in the Parking Lot" is a classic of his and well worth playing/hearing again on this disc as GC captures a classic TX moment outside many a honkytonk. "No Lonesome Tune" is a Townes VanZandt song and Guy's crisp guitar work and mellow voice was made for it. The bluesy "Worry Be Gone" and "Diamond Joe" finish out this fine disc.

It's classic Guy Clark all the way-- not as mournful as "The Dark" but I'd compare it more to one of his best-- "Dublin Blues." And if you ever get a chance to hear him in concert, run, don't walk to get those tickets. Guy Clark is a treasure. Highly recommended. Enjoy!
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By J. Johnson VINE VOICE on September 20, 2006
Format: Audio CD
There may be better songwriters than Guy Clark-but you can count them on one hand with fingers left over. This disc has him co-writing with some of the best in Nashville-Gary Nicholson, Lee Roy Parnell, Steve Nelson, Ray Stephenson and old standbys Rodney Crowell and Verlon Thompson. The result is a project that loses none of Guy's touch, but slightly broadens the musical palate. In addition, there is a greater emphasis on production, making the record sound more like a country record (in a good sense) than a bluegrass or folk record as some projects have sounded in the past.

The disc opens with two exceptional tracks, Walkin' Man and Magdalene. Both benefit from the expanded musical palate and are full of brilliant images. They are followed by Tornado Time in Texas full of Guy's wry sense of humor (when pigs fly, no I mean really fly), Funny Bone a look at the kind of lovable losers Guy can see when others see nothing, and Expose, co-written with Rodney Crowell.

Guy is prone to reprising something he has previously released, and this time we get a full band/production version of Out In the Parkin' Lot. While really nice, IMHO it loses some of the understated elegance it had on Keepers. This is followed by the obligitory Townes Van Zandt tune, and in No Lonesome Tune, Guy has found a song that perfectly fits the mood of this record.

The record closes with a trio of songs that are full of humor and pleasaure. Cinco De Mayo In Memphis a meeting of hispanic culture with Memphis, Analog Girl, about one of those girls who just doesn't fit the digital age and Worry B Gone a tribute to the capacity of smoke to remove the stresses of life. The final track is a duet between Guy and Verlon Thompson on Diamond Joe, sung with "a big old sweep of the cowboy hat" to Ramblin' Jack Elliott.

All in all a very satisfying record. Highly recommend
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A photographer VINE VOICE on October 29, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Clark's voice is ageless. The photos on the CD sleeve show a Guy Clark who looks decades older than he did in the photos on his previous album but the voice is as strong as ever. The songs are as strong as well. I played this and followed it up by listening to his first two albums. The sound is more up-to-date on the current recording but, otherwise, Clark's voice doesn't seem to have weakened one whit. Those first recordings have an edge in that they contain songs that have since become classics.

I never get tired of listening to Clark sing. I don't think he's ever done anything second rate. On the new recording, my pick for future classics are "Tornado Time in Texas" (which ranks alongside "Texas Cooking" as a vignette of genuine Lonestarness) and "Out In The Parking Lot" (which he recorded previously on the live CD "Keepers"). A couple of others are favorites of mine, "Cinco de Mayo In Memphis" and "Worry Be Gone". Of course, I also love "Expose'" for its hard look at tabloid journalism. Hell, there's not a loser on the recording.

As a side note, this CD's release date in the USA has been pushed back numerous times. It was originally to be released in September, then it was changed to an October date. That date was also pushed back to November. The current official release of this recording is still a couple of weeks down the road as I write this. Copies of the CD can be obtained from UK sources here on Amazon or you can get a pre-release copy by going through Guy Clark's website and following the links. While the link says autographed copies of the CD are available, mine didn't come with an autograph. Even so, I'm impatient and I'm happy just to get my hands on the recording before it's officially released.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By K. Justinius on March 8, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Guy Clark has been one of America's Finest Songwriters for many years. His songs have been recorded by some of America's most well known Performers like Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. Workbench Songs is his lastest CD Release that showcases his well honed Songwriting Talent. The 1st Song of CD is "Walkin Man", it is a great ballad that evokes Legends like: Martin Luther King, Woodie Guthrie, Gandi and Chuck Berry. It is the kind of song that tells a timeless story and I have even added it to my own performances. The rest of the Album is equally Great. Guy Clark's style of acoustic Guitar Playing (and Making) is unique, but in the same vein of Woody/Arlo Guthrie, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson and Ramblin' Jack Elliot. I recommend this Album to Anyone interested in True American Music performed by an Established Songwriter.
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