16: Hard Workin’ Man (Brooks & Dunn)

Album: Hard Workin’ Man
Artist: Brooks & Dunn
Year: 1993

1. Hard Workin’ Man (D)
2. We’ll Burn That Bridge (D)
3. Mexican Minutes (B)
4. Heartbroke Out of My Mind (D)
5. She Used to Be Mine (D)
6. Rock My World (Little Country Girl) (B)
7. That Ain’t No Way To Go (D)
8. Texas Women (Don’t Stay Lonely Long) (B)
9. Our Time Is Coming (D)
10. I Can’t Put Out This Fire (B)
11. Boot Scootin’ Boogie (Dance Mix) (D)

Brooks and Dunn’s first album was Brand New Man, so it was hilarious that they decided they were a Hard Workin’ Man for their second album. It was hard to make jokes about it, though, after just two minutes as the title song is just about the perfect country song. Loud, energetic, great guitar work. Definitely a top five song of all time for me, and my favorite driving song despite clocking in at less than three minutes.

The album doesn’t let up there as We’ll Burn That Bridge is a perfect follow-up song. Lyrically it’s nothing all that special, but the chorus has an insane crescendo that keeps the blood pumping.  The pace slows down for Mexican Minutes, appropriately. It’s pretty solid, showing off Brooks’s then good voice. Then what was a perfect album flies off the rail thanks to a terrible song by Dunn. Heartbroke Out of My Mind sounds lame and and it is. Awkward rhythm, blah piano, insipid lyrics.

Dunn makes up for it with She Used to Be Mine, which is as simple as you can get from a ballad but it showcases his powerful voice. Rock My World is an overrated country line dance number that actually ends with the studio crowd singing along. That Ain’t No Way To Go was another huge hit for Dunn, and in addition to showing off his amazing voice again, has a fantastic guitar intro. Texas Women approaches country swing and is fine filler.

Unfortunately, Dunn regurgitates another awful ballad in Our Time Is Coming. It’s a sad song that inspires no emotion. It’s not near as bad as Heartbroke, but I usually skip it all the same.  The album saves itself with a rare great ballad by Brooks. I Can’t Put Out This Fire has a solid chorus and Dunn sings a good harmony.

It feels weird to include a dance remix of a song in this review, but Boot Scootin’ Boogie (off their first album) is actually improved in this version as it adds a motorcycle, more harmonica, more piano, and a few more choruses. It’s one of the most popular line-dance songs ever and how to make it better other than doubling everything that was awesome?

Hard Workin’ Man is easily a top 5 album if not for two missteps by Dunn, but it leaves a really impressive nine-song album to listen to anyway.

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4 thoughts on “16: Hard Workin’ Man (Brooks & Dunn)

  1. This is the disc that a few dudes in my class used to try to turn me on to country in 1993. It never took, that whole “country” thing, but I still like this disc in particular.

  2. Hard Workin Man and We’ll Burn That Bridge were the soundtrack to our driving around the lake from fishing spot to fishing spot on one of the last family vacations (the last maybe?) I went on. Sang it at the top of our lungs over the outboard motor. I think T-R-O-U-B-L-E was in the mix as well.

    Whole-heartedly disagree on the Boot Scootin Boogie remix. Never cared for it. The part where they break every thing down is ok, and the harmonica is good, but the soul of the song is ruined by remixing it with drum machines (and obvious ones at that). The obnoxious radio DJ like voices that occasionally pop up in the background don’t help either. The song that got us into country was better left alone :)

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