Review Summary: Tried, true and tested. If only radio-country was still this great.
It’s no wonder modern Country music floods most peoples’ minds with negative thoughts of façade superstars and minimally talented “artists.” After all, the majority of artists in mainstream Country these days don’t write their own songs, can’t play an instrument with any level of proficiency, and often don't even reside in the “sticks", per se. Now I’m certainly not ignorant enough to imply that only people from the South and small towns can enjoy country (because music of all types transcends barriers and attracts individuals from every corner of the planet), but gone are the days of Hank Jr., George Jones, Merle Haggard and even old-school George Strait for that matter.
The current industry model today: find some city slicker with a great voice, toss a cowboy hat on ‘em and have him sing a few lines about muskadine wine & trucks and proclaim them to be the next Country sensation. As with most things in the world, creativity and innovative-ness now take a back seat to profit-maximization. The sad truth is that Country music (generally speaking, of course) has become a blasphemous spin off of what real musicians are trying to accomplish- sincerity and self-expression. Fortunately, the invention of CDs, vinyl, and mp3s allow us to take a step back in time and remind ourselves of the men & women who talked the talk and walked the walk. That brings us to one such man who achieved considerable mainstream success while maintaining credibility among the diehards- Clint Black.
In 1989, Black broke onto the national scene with his debut album Killin’ Time
which included five different number one singles in the U.S. including “A Better Man” and “Killin’ Time”; unlike most of his counterparts, not only did Black actually contribute to some of the songwriting, he contributed to the writing of all ten songs here. Specifically, four were written entirely by Black, and the others were co-written as a partnership with friend & songwriter Hayden Nicholas. Further exemplifying how Clint Black breaks the Country musician mold is the fact that he is a multi-instrumentalist (guitar, harmonica, piano) in conjunction with his vocal abilities.
Clint’s legendary debut is a perfect mix of arm-swingin’, dosie-doein’ Country and mainstream melodies that will appease dang-near any person who identifies themselves as a fan of the genre; covered are a wide range of topic matter, both serious and quirky. In the opening track, Black sings Straight from the factory we were made for each other; one of those things that’s just meant to be. We were straight from the factory, you’re the only lock that fits my key.
The upbeat, feel-good mentality that Black injects into the songs is addictive and serotonin-inducing. In the title track, we’re given a sing-along chorus about drinking, and then well, drinking some more. These lines have since become classic:
This killin' time is killin' me
Drinking myself blind, thinkin' I won't see
That if I cross that line and they bury me
Well I just might find I'll be killin' time for eternity.
has a resumé of accolades rarely seen: when “A Better Man” reached number one on the Billboard charts, it is was the first debut album by a male performer to reach number one in fourteen years; it was also the first time ever in Country music that an album included five different number-one singles; and lastly, Killin’ Time
set the stage for Black to be awarded the CMA Horizon Award for best newcomer in 1990. Perhaps Clint himself sums up his debut album best- “At one point, I knew I crossed this line out of obscurity and I felt like no matter what happened from that point on I would always be remembered for Killin’ Time
. There was this kind of mixed feeling of remorse and excitement.” Given his undeniable talent as a musician along his trademark smile & black cowboy hat, it’s no wonder Clint Black would go on chart more than 30 singles over the course of his impressive career. While most Country artists sung material placed in front of them and attempted to just play the role, Black wrote it himself, sung it just as well, and lived the life described in the songs.