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Garth wins friends in many places
on 20 July 2005
Country music changed forever in 1989, led by Clint Black with his hugely successful debut album that spawned several number one country hits. Garth started at the same time as Clint but his debut album, while also very successful, didn't do as well as Clint's album at the time. With his second album (this one), Garth took country music to a level of popularity never previously known and became its leading star for much of the nineties. Indeed, Garth outsold all pop singers in America for a few years. I don't know how many copies this particular album has sold but I know it passed the ten million mark long ago. I was one of the early purchasers but, brilliant as it is, I never expected it to become that popular.
The four big American hits are The thunder rolls, Two of a kind working on a full house, Friends in low places and Unanswered prayers. None of these songs made the UK charts. Garth was unable to reproduce his American success in Britain although he eventually made the UK top twenty with a song from a later album. Friends in low places is a classic lightweight drinking song that Mark Chesnutt recorded at around the same time. More dramatic and equally brilliant is The thunder rolls, about a woman waiting for a man to come home safely during a stormy night - he does but she realizes that he's been cheating. Another classic is Unanswered prayers, in which Garth shows his gratitude for not having his old prayers answered, preferring his wife to an old flame. Sadly, Garth and his wife eventually went their separate ways some years later. Two of a kind working on a full house uses a poker game analogy to describe a couple in love although it makes no mention of a family, which you might expect from the title
Quite apart from the hits, there are other great songs here including New way to fly (about people looking for love that lasts), Victim of the game (about cheating), Wild horses (about a man's love of rodeo), Same old story (about a one-sided love), Mr Blue (a cover of a fifties pop song) and Wolves (about rural hardship - this song is by the brilliant but obscure singer-songwriter Stephanie Davis).
If you enjoy Garth's music, you should definitely buy this album, which is a classic.