Monday, August 27, 1990

Garth Brooks’ No Fences released

First posted 2/22/2008; updated 12/3/2020.

No Fences

Garth Brooks

Released: August 27, 1990

Peak: 3 US, 141 CW, -- UK, 49 CN, 11 AU

Sales (in millions): 18.0 US, -- UK, 23.0 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: country


Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. The Thunder Rolls (5/18/91, 1 CW)
  2. New Way to Fly
  3. Two of a Kind, Workin’ on a Full House (2/9/91, 1 CW)
  4. Victim of the Game
  5. Friends in Low Places (8/18/90, 1 CW, 36 UK)
  6. Wild Horses (11/25/00, 7 CW, 43a US)
  7. Unanswered Prayers (11/3/90, 1 CW)
  8. Same Old Story
  9. Mr. Blue
  10. Wolves

Total Running Time: 38:29


4.250 out of 5.00 (average of 13 ratings)

Quotable: No Fences captures Garth Brooks just after his initial success yet before superstardom.” – David Cantwell,

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

No Fences captures Garth Brooks just after his initial success yet before superstardom.” DC It remains his “best-selling album to date” WK and was named Album of the Year in 1990 by the Academy of Country Music.

It “follows the same pattern as his debut, but it is a more assured and risky record. Brooks still performs neo-traditional country, such as the honky tonk hit Friends in Low Places,” STE, which was the ACM 1990 Single of the Year, “but now he twists it around with clever pop hooks.” STE

“Those pop/rock influences are most apparent on the ballads, which alternate between sensitive folk-rock and power ballad bombast. But what makes No Fences such a success is how seamlessly he blends the two seemingly opposing genres, and how he chooses a set of material that makes his genre-bending sound subtle and natural. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the songs are consistently entertaining, either.” STE

That attempt at hitting across genres can come across as “impersonations – often catchy and engaging ones, but impersonations nonetheless. Wild Horses is straight-up George Strait, while Two of a Kind and ‘Friends in Low Places’ are John Anderson and Hank Jr. respectively. The best moment, the Dan Fogleberg-like Unanswered Prayers, relays a message either highly spiritual or hugely rationalized. Regardless, it succeeds because its delivery is earnest, sweet, and humble – something Garth wouldn’t be for long.” DC

Also on the album is a cover of the Fleetwoods’ Mr. Blue, Victim of the Game (which was covered by Brooks’ future wife, Trisha Yearwood, on her 1991 debut, and The Thunder Rolls, which was CMA’s Video of the Year in 1991. WK

Notes: “This Ain’t Tennessee” was added to the album when it was released as part of the Limited Series box set.

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Saturday, August 4, 1990

Mariah Carey “Vision of Love” hit #1

Vision of Love

Mariah Carey

Writer(s): Mariah Carey, Ben Marguiles (see lyrics here)

Released: May 15, 1990

First Charted: June 2, 1990

Peak: 14 US, 12 CB, 14 GR, 13 RR, 13 AC, 12 RB, 9 UK, 14 CN, 9 AU, 4 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.2 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 44.6 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Singer/songwriter Mariah Carey was born in 1969 in New York, the daughter of a white opera singer and black aeronautical engineer. She recorded her first demo at sixteen and even sang back-up on Brenda K. Starr’s top 20 hit “I Still Believe” in 1988. She met record executive Tommy Mottola at a party and gave him her demo tape. He listened to it in his limo on the way home and had the driver take him back to the party. She’d already left, but he tracked her down and signed her to Columbia. BR

He “started making romantic overtures almost immediately” BR and the two eventually married, despite the 20-year-plus age difference. She would later describe him as “a repressive, controlling force” BR but he did “ruthlessly believe in her talent” BR and she was considered a priority at Columbia. Mottola wanted to do with Carey what Clive Davis had done with Whitney Houston (who’d already had seven #1’s at this point) at Arista. He even brought in Narada Michael Walden, who’d produced many of Houston’s dance-pop hits, to work on many of the tracks on Carey’s debut album, including “Vision of Love.”

Carey had a more active role in her career than Houston because she had a hand in writing and producing her songs. BR She wrote “Vision of Love” roughly a week after signing to Columbia. BR She wrote it as “a howl of triumph after making it through her chaotic, uncertain early years.” BR “The song self-consciously evokes classic soul” BR backed by “the same kind of twinkly, artificial late-eighties synthpop that previous teen sensations like Debbie Gibson and Tiffany were using.” BR

In light of the scandal at the time that exposed group Milli Vanilli as not actually singing their vocals, Columbia took great care in presenting Carey as “someone who looked like a model but who really could sing.” BR Critics focused on her seven-octave vocal range at the onset of her career. BR From the beginning, Carey “understood that her voices was what set her apart” BR and “Vision of Love” “is a vehicle for that voice.” BR It is also “a sleek piece of pop craftmanship, a canny showcase for a fully formed persona, and a moving account of personal triumph.” BR

The song introduced the world to someone who would become one of the most successful artists of all time. “Vision of Love” was the first of nineteen songs to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. That made her second only to the Beatles’ twenty chart-toppers. “Vision of Love” was the first of four #1 songs from her debut album and the first of five consecutive #1 singles, making her the first artist to top the charts the first five times out.


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First posted 4/10/2023.

Guns N’ Roses “Civil War” charted

Civil War

Guns N’ Roses

Writer(s): Axl Rose, Slash, Duff McKagan (see lyrics here)

Released: June 21, 1991

First Charted: August 4, 1990

Peak: 4 AR, 11 UK, 45 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 67.6 video, 116.09 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

After Guns N’ Roses exploded with 1987’s Appetite for Destruction, it would be four years before they released a proper full-fledged album, and then it was a double whammy with Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II. It wasn’t that they didn’t release any new music in the interim. 1988’s G N’ R Lies featured four new songs alongside the group’s 1986 EP Live Like a Suicide. A live cover of Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” also became a radio airplay hit.

In 1990, GNR released the song “Civil War” on the charity album Nobody’s Child. The project, compiled by George Harrison, raised money for Romanian orphans through the Romanian Angel Appeal Foundation. Fans eager for new material from Axl Rose and the boys sent the song to #4 on Billboard’s album rock chart. It was released worldwide as a single in 1993 and charted in several countries, most notably at #1 in Poland.

The protest song denounced war because it “feeds the rich while it buries the war.” It also referred to all war as “civil war.” At one point, Axl Rose declares, “What’s so civil about war, anyway?” Duff McKagan said the line, “Did you wear the black arm band / When they shot the man / Who said ‘Peace could last forever?” was inspired by attending a peace march for Martin Luther King Jr. with his mom when he was a kid. WK

Slash said the song grew out of an instrumental he wrote right before the band left for the Japanese leg of its Appetite for Destruction world tour. WK The speech at the beginning of the song (“What we have here is failure to communicate”) is from the movie Cool Hand Luke. The American Civil War song “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” is also used when Axl Rose whistles it at the beginning and end. SF

This was the last single recorded with drummer Steven Adler, who left several months after the song was recorded and was replaced by Matt Sorum, formerly of the Cult, before “Civil War” saw release as a single. Adler played the song for the one and only time at Farm Aid WK on April 7, 1990. SF The song would become part of the Use Your Illusion collection in 1991, as did their cover of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.”


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First posted 8/6/2022.

Thursday, August 2, 1990

Today in Music (1890): “Semper Fidelis” hit #1

Semper Fidelis

United States Marine Band

Writer(s): John Philip Sousa (music)

Composed: 1888

First Charted: August 2, 1890

Peak: 12 PM (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 13.8 video, 0.83 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“Semper Fidelis” owes its existence to President Chester A. Arthur, although he died before it was composed. He wasn’t a fan of “Hail to the Thief” as the official song. After composer John Philip Sousa explained its origins as an old Scottish boating song, Arthur suggested Sousa write something new. Sousa responsded with “Presidential Polonaise” in 1886 and “Semper Fidelis” in 1888. MB

The term, meaning “always faithful,” is the motto of the United States Marine Corps. It is an extension of “With Steady Step,” a pie he wrote for the trumpet and drum in 1886. He dedicated “Semper Fidelis” to “the officers and men of the U.S. Marine Corps,” saying “I wrote ‘Semper Fidelis’ one night while in tears, after my comrades of the Marine Corps had sung their famous hymn at Quantico.” MB

He led the first performance of the song, marching down Pennyslvania Avenue toward President Harrison, and as he explained, “many members of the diplomatic corps, a large part of the House and Senate, and an immense number of invited guests besides. I had so timed our playing of the march that the ‘trumpet’ theme would be heard for the first time, just as we got to the front of the reviewing stand. Suddenly ten extra trumpets were shot in the air, and the ‘theme’ was pealed out in unison. Nothing like it had ever been heard there before – when the great throng on the stand had recovered its surprise, it rose in a body and led by the President himself, showed its pleasure in a mighty swell of applause. It was a proud moment for us all.” MB

Sousa considered it his “most musical” march TY2 and it has been referred to as “America’s first #1 record.” PM It became the official march of the U.S. Marine Corps. It was even played in multiple foreign countries and was a favorite march of Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II prior to World War I. MB Sousa first recorded it with the U.S. Marine Band in 1890 and it reached #1. He recorded it again with his own band in 1902 and it got to #3. PM


First posted 6/26/2024.