Honkytonk University

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Barnes & Noble - David McGee
Country superstar Toby Keith certainly struck a chord, post-9/11, with songs such as the patriotic "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue The Angry American," but on Honkytonk University, the rawboned Okie mostly sets aside the retaliatory rhetoric and returns to well-crafted songs about lovin' and losin'. It may be coincidence that a robust Merle Haggard stops by for a stirring duet on "She Ain't Hooked on Me No More," a mid-tempo homage to self-immolation, but his appearance is entirely appropriate, since this disc has the burnished feel of one of Merle's underappreciated late-'70s Epic recordings. The music here is tough and wiry in spots, smooth and lilting in others, ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David McGee
Country superstar Toby Keith certainly struck a chord, post-9/11, with songs such as the patriotic "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue The Angry American," but on Honkytonk University, the rawboned Okie mostly sets aside the retaliatory rhetoric and returns to well-crafted songs about lovin' and losin'. It may be coincidence that a robust Merle Haggard stops by for a stirring duet on "She Ain't Hooked on Me No More," a mid-tempo homage to self-immolation, but his appearance is entirely appropriate, since this disc has the burnished feel of one of Merle's underappreciated late-'70s Epic recordings. The music here is tough and wiry in spots, smooth and lilting in others, aimed at rabble-rousers and buckle polishers read: slow dancers alike. On the hit single "Honkytonk U," an autobiographical bit of snarling southern rock, Keith relates the musical path he's trod since childhood. Sardonic wit informs the mock-weeping tones of the western swing–styled "You Ain't Leavin' Thank God Are Ya," a celebration of a former lover's departure in the grand style of "Thank God and Greyhound." The gentle, swaying rhythm of "Where You Gonna Go" frames the touching tale of a couple named Johnny and June, who've begotten a child but can't seem to connect otherwise. The acoustic-based heartbreaker "You Caught Me at a Bad Time" and "Your Smile," a poignant, acutely observed tale of hearts on the mend, round out Keith's best tune stack yet, one rowdy enough for Saturday night but human enough for Sunday morning.
All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Snicker all you want at Toby Keith's shoutout to his "boys in Afghanistan and Baghdad City" in the chorus of "Honkytonk U" -- Keith may pander, but that doesn't mean he doesn't deliver the goods. And deliver he does on Honkytonk University, his 2005 follow-up to 2003's hit Shock'n Y'all and the second album he's released since 2002's Unleashed made him into a bonafide superstar thanks to its post-9/11 anthem "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue The Angry American." That song pegged Keith as a right-wing, red-state country singer, but that's not exactly an accurate designation. Not only is he nowhere near as simple as Darryl Worley, but his patriotic posturing was savvy, a good way to endear him to his core audience and broaden his base, all the while being able to keep his country pure, without a trace of pop schmaltz in its arrangements. Honkytonk University, as its title suggests, confirms that Keith is the biggest hardcore country singer this side of Alan Jackson, but where Jackson is a strict traditionalist, Keith is a rowdy modern man, building on the outlaw country of Waylon Jennings and the sound of latter-day Merle Haggard, throwing in traces of Dwight Yoakam along with a keen eye for contemporary life. He takes such time-honored themes as love, broken hearts, and drinking and gives them new life through his sharp details and sense of humor -- best heard on the wonderfully self-depreciating "As Good as I Once Was" and the absurd, over-the-top "You Ain't Leavin' Thank God Are Ya" -- and a strong sense of craft. He's been writing good barroom weepers and party tunes for a long time, but here, the love ballads and sad songs are just as good, and there are such nice, breezy changes of pace as "Where You Gonna Go" that recall the best of rolling, folk-influenced country. Indeed, there's a greater variety of sounds and styles on Honkytonk University than many Toby Keith records -- there's honky tonk, to be sure, but that's only the starting point -- and that variety, along with the consistently strong set of original songs all bearing Keith's writing credits, many co-written by Scotty Emerick, makes this one of his very best records.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/17/2005
  • Label: Dreamworks Nashville
  • UPC: 602498803554
  • Catalog Number: 000430002

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Toby Keith Primary Artist, Vocals
Merle Haggard Vocals
Mickey Raphael Harmonica
Eddie Bayers Drums
Mark Casstevens Acoustic Guitar
Dan Dugmore Steel Guitar
Shannon Forrest Drums
Paul Franklin Steel Guitar
Tony Harrell Piano, Keyboards, Hammond Organ
David Hungate Bass
Clayton Ivey Piano, Keyboards, Hammond Organ
Julian King Background Vocals
B. James Lowry Acoustic Guitar
Brent Mason Electric Guitar
Jerry McPherson Electric Guitar
Gordon Mote Piano, Keyboards, Hammond Organ
Steve Nathan Piano, Keyboards, Hammond Organ, Hammond B3
Brent Rowan Electric Guitar
Biff Watson Acoustic Guitar
Glenn Worf Bass
John Wesley Tyles Background Vocals
Scotty Emerick Acoustic Guitar
Wes Hightower Background Vocals
Shannon Forest Drums
Johnny Hiland Electric Guitar
Technical Credits
Toby Keith Composer, Producer, Audio Production
Chuck Cannon Composer
Dean Dillon Composer
J.L. Jamison Sound Crew
Julian King Engineer
James Stroud Producer, Audio Production
Scotty Emerick Composer
Rick Humes Sound Crew
Darren Welch Art Direction
Hank Williams Mastering
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 5 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(3)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Heck Yeah

    He takes such time-honored themes as love, broken hearts, and drinking and gives them new life through his sharp details and sense of humor -- best heard on the wonderfully self-depreciating "As Good as I Once Was" and the absurd, over-the-top "You Ain't Leavin' (Thank God Are Ya)" -- and a strong sense of craft. He's been writing good barroom weepers and party tunes for a long time, but here, the love ballads and sad songs are just as good, and there are such nice, breezy changes of pace as "Where You Gonna Go" that recall the best of rolling, folk-influenced country. Indeed, there's a greater variety of sounds and styles on Honkytonk University than many Toby Keith records -- there's honky tonk, to be sure, but that's only the starting point -- and that variety, along with the consistently strong set of original songs (all bearing Keith's writing credits, many co-written by Scotty Emerick), makes this one of his very best records.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Not up to his usual standards

    I was very disappointed in this album. Toby has lost his bite. All of the songs sounded alike, with very little to distinguish one from the other. I miss his on target social commentary which he does so well. The only bright spots on the album are As Good as I Once Was and Honkytonk U.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Best Yet

    This is a great CD. One of his best. The songs are pure country. Toby is a great artist and his style and humor comes shining through. His ballads have always been fabulous and the ballads on this CD are no exception.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    'Not As Good As He Once Was'

    After Shockin Ya'll this album is a big dissapointment. It is mostly ballads, with the highlight of the album being the sappy duet She Ain't Hooked On Me No More, with country music great Merle Haggard

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews