Chet Atkins' Workshop -- your thoughts?

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Chet Atkins' Workshop -- your thoughts?

Postby mark reinhart » Mon Dec 09, 2013 6:00 am

As I am working my way through Chet's discography for my book project, I have come to an album that I must confess stumps me just a bit. CHET ATKINS' WORKSHOP was one of Chet's bestselling records when it was first released -- but when I look at its tracklist, I must say that I can't instantly come up with individual songs that are among Chet's best-known or most noteworthy.

Chet's earlier albums had tracks on them that jumped out at most all of us Chet fans as "all time best" numbers -- for example, "Walk, Don'l Run" on HI-FI IN FOCUS, "Swedish Rhapsody" on FINGERSTYLE GUITAR, etc. There are tracks on WORKSHOP that jump out as my own personal favorites, but I'm not sure I have a handle on what tracks off of the album the majority of Chet fans would consider the most essential. If you have any thoughts on this question, I would be delighted to hear them. Thanks!
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Re: Chet Atkins' Workshop -- your thoughts?

Postby Steve Sanders » Mon Dec 09, 2013 11:21 am

"Workshop" is one of my favorite "records". Two of my favorite cuts are "Tammy" and "Goofus". "Tammy" is a great tune to learn. The secret is tune your 6th string down to "D" and capo the 5th fret and play it in "C" (really F). Course you'll need a good vibrato / tremelo source. It has lots of big ol' chords and nice, bright melody notes. "Goofus" is one of a few Chet tunes in the key of "D". For you folks that say that Chet hardly ever used reverb or only used "just a little" had better go back and re-listen to "Goofus" because it has tons of reverb! It makes the tune!! I listen to "Workshop" probably more than any of my records. To me it's one of Chet's best albums. Technically, recording wise, it just has more of the "Chet sound". That is my opinion and it ought'a be yours! Where'd I hear that???? Steve
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Re: Chet Atkins' Workshop -- your thoughts?

Postby Sholmst » Mon Dec 09, 2013 11:58 am

Workshop is one of my favorites too. I like Marie best although the whole LP is great. There is a whole different version on the second Bear Family set. Does anyone know if this is made up of Chet playing live with the band in the studio? The ideas aren't as well formed as on the original release so it sounds like he redid the whole album in his home studio but somehow Bear Family got ahold of the originals. There is already a good discussion of this relating to In Hollywood on here, but whenever someone has an answer somebody else rebuts it. Very confusing but it's all great music.
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Re: Chet Atkins' Workshop -- your thoughts?

Postby Ray Bohlken » Mon Dec 09, 2013 12:48 pm

I enjoyed listening again to the Chet Atkins Workshop LP. It was great to hear it again. I have always liked Lullaby Of Birdland for the great walking bass and the really nice improvisations that followed. I also enjoyed Sleep for the walking bass and the tempo change that he used - from lullaby to jazzy. It was a neat turn. Chet was always surprising me. It sure is fun to go back to listen to these from time to time.
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Re: Chet Atkins' Workshop -- your thoughts?

Postby stevek » Mon Jan 06, 2014 7:55 pm

Hi Ray,

I agree, it is fun to go back and listen to Chet's tunes. I also like the duets that he did with Jerry Reed. There was only one Chet.

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Re: Chet Atkins' Workshop -- your thoughts?

Postby emjaybee94 » Tue Jan 07, 2014 8:31 am

"Workshop" was the third album I bought of Chet's and after 50 years it is still in my top 5. Bonita is probably my favourite track on the album, mainly because of Chet's impeccable use of chords in the melody; it has a lovely jazz feel to it as well. Lullaby of Birdland and Sleep have fantastic walking bass lines, but Hot Mocking Bird edges it for me - never quite worked out what Chet was playing on that track. A great all round album though!
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Re: Chet Atkins' Workshop -- your thoughts?

Postby Norm » Tue Jan 07, 2014 9:27 am

You may be "stumped" in hindsight but this is because you fail to consider the impact of the album when it first came out.

It was, for the day, the epitome of what Chet's method of recording would be... go to Studio B for any band tracks and taking the tape to his brand new basement studio and playing around with mixing and effects in the non-pressure comfort of home.

Very few artists had that kind of setup, let alone the musical chops.

It is a time capsule of artistry. A man with his own functioning studio in a day when a state-of-the-art studio was out of reach to most guitarists.
...that's how it looks to me...The opinion expressed above is my own and does not necessarily reflect the views of this station. Your mileage may vary...

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Re: Chet Atkins' Workshop -- your thoughts?

Postby mark reinhart » Wed Jan 08, 2014 1:21 am

Actually, I can give a bit of an update here to let everyone know just which WORKSHOP track I decided to include in my book. "Hot Mocking Bird" turned out to be the track I picked -- not only was it one of the album's standout tracks, but it also was released as a single. Plus, it has been included on a few "Best of" collections, including the fairly recent ESSENTIAL 2-disc set. One more thing about it that I thought made it a particularly good choice -- there are two versions of the recording, and Chet's playing is noticeably different on each version. This gave me a perfect opportunity to discuss Chet's tendency to re-record his guitar tracks at his home studio.

Incidentally, I have been using John Chintala's CHET ATKINS ebook as a reference tool, and it is just fabulous -- thanks for your great work, John!
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Re: Chet Atkins' Workshop -- your thoughts?

Postby craigdobbins » Wed Jan 08, 2014 1:56 am

Norm, I agree with you- "Workshop" is like a time capsule of Chet's artistry. It's the first Atkins LP I ever heard. My uncle had it and "Caribbean Guitar" and I listened to them both over and over. It was "Workshop" that really spoke to me, though. I now have that original copy of my uncle's, and it's still one of my all-time favorite Chet LPs, certainly in the top 10, probably the top 5.

Mark, the standout tracks for me were "Whispering" (which I transcribed in my book The Chet Atkins Collection), "Goofus", "A Summer Place" (Chet trying to out-Les Paul Les Paul), "Bonita" . . . well, practically the whole LP. Interestingly, "Birdland" and "Hot Mocking Bird" were/are the tracks that interested me the least.

I love Chet's tone and the use of echo and reverb on the LP. The album cover and Halberstam's liner notes are worth the price of admission!


P.S. Oh, and the harmonics on the intro of "Sleep", the key changes in "Marie", the tremolo in "Tammy" . . .
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Re: Chet Atkins' Workshop -- your thoughts?

Postby craigdobbins » Wed Jan 08, 2014 9:54 am

Scott, I'd put my money on Pat Kirtley's info on "Hollywood." He's the one who has done the research, including speaking to some of the the principals involved. And I agree- I noticed the Bear tracks were different immediately.

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