8. Garth Brooks // Ropin’ the Wind
At a time when the neo-traditionalist movement was in full swing, the grandiose of
Brooks took the format from honky-tonks to arenas. Incorporating plenty of his country foundation, he pushed the envelope in a decidedly ’70s pop-rock direction, far beyond the confines presented on his cover of Billy Joel’s “Shameless.” His strengths run the gamut: ballads (“What She’s Doing Now”), rollicking soul (“Papa Loved Mama”), spur-headed pop (“Rodeo”) and everything in between. Closer, the urgent prayer “The River,” is among his best works ⎯⎯ and while his comeback didn’t quite deliver, his legacy remains intact, undeniably.