Personnel: Bob Mould (vocals, guitars, keyboards, mandolin, percussion); Jane Scarpantoni (cello); Tony Maimone (bass); Anton Fier (drums); Steve Haigler (percussion).
Recorded at Paisley Park Studios, Chanhassen, Minnesota and Grog Kill Studio, Willow, New York.
The release of WORKBOOK was greeted with universal critical acclaim. Comfortable with the old Husker Du three-piece formula, Bob Mould signed up Tony Maimone (bass) and Anton Fier (drums), both ex-members of Pere Ubu, for his solo debut. Ex-Tiny Lights cellist Jane Scarpantoni also adds some spectacular highlights and shading to the proceedings--especially on "Sinners and Their Repentances."
The album displays the natural progression of Mould's writing--though admittedly, the volume and feedback are turned down a notch, and a couple of tracks, in particular "Sunspots," a pretty solo acoustic guitar piece, may surprise people used to his traditional gale-force guitar. Standouts include the deceptively chipper "See a Little Light," which disguises its sadness in a brilliant pop wrapper, the punchy "Poison Years," which seems to be Mould's version of the Husker Du story, and "Brasilia Crossed with Trenton," arguably Mould's finest composition, full of howling regret, jangling guitars, and the kind of introspection that you can sing along with.
CMJ (1/5/04, p.26) - Ranked #5 in CMJ's "Top 20 Most-Played Albums of 1989"
Mojo (Publisher) (3/01/04, p.55) - Included in Mojo's The 67 Lost Albums You Must Own! - "[The album] is one of Mould's strongest sets, with cello fleshing out his aching vocal melodies, and brief bursts of blitzoid guitar adding dynamics."