The late 1980s were a time for me of driving, learning how to be happy, working on the road and learning to play the guitar in more ways than just the punk rock slam of my earlier years. At the beginning of that decade I saved and bought a Gibson Explorer, got a little Gibson amp from my uncle, started a garage band with some skate friends and played shows at the Pralltown Cafe in Lexington, Kentucky. I learned to play in front of people. We practiced in my father’s basement in-between skating the half-pipe in our yard and drinking shitty beer.
Most of the early to mid-80s I played in punk rock bands. Three chords, no waiting. Then towards the late 80s I got an acoustic guitar and started hanging out in the woods in eastern Kentucky playing a lot of folk and old-time country with my uncle Jimmy. That is when I began learning how to play guitar. Playing melodies, arpeggios, learning to flatpick, listening to a lot of Doc Watson, New Grass Revival and Ernest Tubbs. I never left my love for punk and hard rock completely behind though and always managed to throw some Minutemen, Black Flag, Husker Du, DRI and the like into the mix.
In 1989 some time after Husker Du went down in flames Bob Mould released an album called “Workbook.” I remember I bought it on Cassette and played it nonstop for many months in a row. This was a rock music that hit me in the gut like the punk of my youth, but was something more. Something adult. Something technical without being proggish. The guitar playing was tremendous, as was the song writing. He took the catchy pop hooks from Husker songs and showed me that you could write a rocking fucking song with interesting lyrics and song structure and have some heft and depth. A real work of art.
Shortly after, cousin Keith and I were driving to Chicago on a cold and snowy winters afternoon/evening and we were so engrossed in the album that I ran out of gas on I-80/90. Luckily a cop pulled up and drove me to the nearest gas station so I could grab some fuel. That was the kind of fresh goodness the album had.
Fast forward 25 years and the re-issue of Workbook is released. I bought it on vinyl and received it the other day. I hadn’t listened to the album in a long time. From the opening guitar work of Sunspots to the closing notes of Whichever Way the Wind Blows, and a bonus tune of All Those People Know this album doesn’t disappoint. Just as this work stayed in my Walkman during the moths of late 1989, it is staying on my turntable now, bringing me much joy. Thanks Bob Mould.
LP Track List:
2. WISHING WELL
3. HEARTBREAK A STRANGER
1. SEE A LITTLE LIGHT
2. POISON YEARS
3. SINNERS AND THEIR REPENTANCES
1. BRASILIA CROSSED WITH TRENTON
2. COMPOSITIONS FOR THE YOUNG AND OLD
3. LONELY AFTERNOON
1. DREAMING, I AM
2. WHICHEVER WAY THE WIND BLOWS
3. ALL THOSE PEOPLE KNOW [Bonus Track]