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Hawksley Workman | (Last Night We Were) The Delicious Wolves (Universal)
'(Last Night We Were) The Delicious Wolves' ?? whatever the billy-o that may mean ?? is a pretty important record for young Hawksley Workman. There is no denying that he has all of the required attributes to become a star. For a start, he has the looks, the charm and ?? dare I say it ?? the glamour. He is a musician of mind-boggling proficiency; this rich and vivid album ?? like his Loose debut 'For Him And The Girls' ?? performed entirely on his todd, but for a trumpet solo here, a female vocal there. As a songwriter, his Don't Be Crushed was an instant classic, recognised in friend and ex-label mate Chris Mills' sublime cover. So, what is to prevent Workman going stellar? Well, he is so often simply overwhelming, with an album's worth of ideas in any given song, and vocal gymnastics that, more often than not, prance just too far. But, it must be remembered that this man loves Queen, and it shows. It shows in the pervy glam strut of opener Striptease, and on the quite fantastic Jealous of Your Cigarette (not such a wacky title to the sinful of thought). It is even more evident in the 4:23 of preposterous rock-opera that is Dirty And True, and in the stomping Clever Not Beautiful ?? a song of sagely advice that includes instruction on avoiding shark attack and a brilliantly aped Brian May guitar sound. But, Workman's most effective weapon is the one he needs to most keep reins on ?? his voice. Multi-octave in range, it is most effective when not drowning in layers of sound and pomp. Most stunning here in this respect is the epic, banjo-bolstered You Me And The Weather, a stunner akin to the work of kindred maverick spirit Rufus Wainwright. What A Woman, too, displays the wonder of the restrained Workman. Whilst not a great song, he at least has room to breathe in a pared down arrangement. The earthy gospel waltz of Old Bloody Orange is a definite stadium ballad, as is potential massive set closer No Beginning No End. But will this man fill stadiums? I really don't know, but stranger things have happened. Peter Frampton, anybody? As I say, this is a crucial release in Workman's career, and may see him sink or soar. Much depends on whether a wider market views him as a genius poptician sex-god with a romantic soul, or a pompous buffoon who's too clever by half. In truth, he's about equal parts both.

Tom Sheriff
CWAS #11 - Autumn 2002