Classic Country Albums Turning 30 in 2019 - Rolling Stone
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12 Classic Country Albums Turning 30 in 2019

Garth Brooks and Clint Black’s classic debuts, plus strong offerings from Dolly Parton and George Jones

Garth Brooks, George StraitGarth Brooks, George Strait

Garth Brooks' debut and George Strait's 'Beyond the Blue Neon' are among the classic country albums turning 30 in 2019.

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The year 1989 is most commonly remembered in country music for the arrival of the Hat Acts who would come to dominate the genre for much of the next decade: Garth Brooks and Clint Black released debut albums and each sprinkled several hits throughout the year, while Alan Jackson charted his first single in the fall. But country music is never just one thing. As the 1980s ended, a new subgenre eventually known as “alternative country” began to emerge, a scene that preferred sounds too loud and twangy for the radio. Mainstream country fans, meanwhile, were more likely to prefer signature hits from Alabama and proto-Hat Act George Strait as well as strong work from the likes of Holly Dunn, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Suzy Bogguss — who all played in a shimmering country-folk style that would persist, for a time, into the Nineties. Finally, 1989 also enjoyed what the rearview now reveals were the final Top 10 radio hits from legends Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and George Jones. Though we tend to associate certain eras with certain sounds, one key annual takeaway in country music is nearly always the same: Variety is good.


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