Just as Luke Combs' major-label opening statement, 2017's This One's for You, launched a new star with a string of hit singles, Clint Black's 1989 debut, KIllin' Time, wasted no time shaking up the country charts.
Black's May 2, 1989, release included four consecutive No. 1 singles: "A Better Man," "Killin' Time," "Nobody's Home" and "Walkin' Away." This instant success wasn't a case of catching lightning in a bottle, either. Black's next 20 singles all cracked the Top 10, and he became a genre ambassador at such cultural happenings as the 1994 Super Bowl's "Rockin' Country Sunday" halftime show.
Read on to find out how The Boot ranks each song off one of the strongest debut albums of the past 30-plus years.
Every guitar-picker in Nashville, both then and now, can relate to the dreamer in this song’s routine of playing the same old songs to the same smoky bar’s regulars.
Black slows his revved-up honky-tonk record down to a smooth stroll, catching listeners' attention for a short lecture on moral ambiguity.
“You’re Gonna Leave Me Again”
Heartbreak permeates Black’s first collection of co-writes, as exemplified by this narrator, who’s seen this movie’s sad ending too many times to easily fall in love.
"Straight From the Factory"
Many first heard Black after dropping the needle on this Texas-style fiddle tune in which the narrator marvels at how well he gets along with his lover: "You’re the only lock that’s made to fit my key," he sings.
The closest thing to a rookie slump for Black came when his debut album’s fifth and final single -- a credible snapshot of a small-town barfly -- only reached the third spot on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
This rapid-fire take on neo-traditionalism predicted country music’s near future. It’s an undeniably fun song that likely would’ve shot up the charts as a single.
Unfortunately, one of the album’s four consecutive No. 1 hits must come in fourth. It’s no slight to this tale of love’s ups and downs that it’s not the best. Being a relatively weak single from Black’s early career is like being the wimpiest member of the Avengers.
Few breakup songs better describe the lethargy that comes along with heartbreak. Black delivers this message through a low-tempo weeper that would’ve been a surefire hit for George Jones.
Few No. 1 hits from any decade pack as much passion and meaning as this confessional from a man who’s wise enough to admit that a recently ended relationship taught him, in the words of fellow Class of ’89 artist Alan Jackson, “a lot about livin’ and a little ‘bout love.”
It was tempting to reserve the top spot for “A Better Man,” just as Billboard’s year-end chart for 1989 ranked it ahead of “Killin’ Time.” Yet in retrospect, it seems fitting to celebrate an album that launched a peer of Jackson, Garth Brooks, Travis Tritt and others with a good ole drinking song. Also, notice young Tim McGraw playing pool in the song's music video!