Work It Out With Chet Atkins C.G.P.
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Richard S. Ginell [allmusic.com]
Frustrated with RCA for suppressing his desire to explore music beyond the realm of Nashville, Chet Atkins bolted his recording home since the 1940s for their Music Row rivals, Columbia, in 1982 -- only to have Columbia suggest that his first album be a background track for exercising! Well, evidently Atkins took to the idea with some enthusiasm, at least in public. Here, several medley of diverse tunes are given overall task names -- ''Warm Up Medley,'' ''Strolling Medley,'' ''Streakin' Medley,'' ''Cross Country Medley'' -- and the music by and large is ultimately subservient to a rigid beat (although Atkins does subvert ''Bye Bye Blues'' a bit with some rhythmic changes). Individual tracks like ''Walk Me Home,'' ''Bourree,'' and ''Run, Don't Walk'' are free of athletic designations -- presumably the listener/exerciser is free to decide what to do -- but the idea is the same. Luckily, Atkins is in a stylistically diverse mood, ranging back and forth across the fence from country to pop, getting off many genial tasteful licks on electric or acoustic guitars. Some of the song choices are as corny as all get out -- when was the last time you heard a major artist perform ''My Grandfather's Clock'' or ''Bicycle Built for Two''? -- but the performances are dignified, musical, definitely not throwaways. Bassist David Hungate would stay on through many of Atkins' Columbia projects, and producer Randy Goodrum handles both the keyboards and drums. There is a simulated applause track on the opening medley, along with strings and Chester's casual vocals; a Nashville chorus chirps now and then. A most unpretentious, even likeable Columbia debut for Atkins -- and yes, you can jog to it quite nicely.