“Brand New Man”
Brooks & Dunn
Written by Kix Brooks, Don Cook, and Ronnie Dunn
#1 (2 weeks)
September 7 – September 14, 1991
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
August 23, 1991
The biggest duo in country music history has arrived.
The Road to No. 1
Brooks & Dunn are a music industry creation that sang and wrote their way right into the Country Music Hall of Fame. The experiment succeeded because of the unique strengths both individual artists brought to the table. Kix Brooks had recorded a solo album in 1989 with little fanfare, but had been a very successful songwriter for the entire decade leading up to that project. Ronnie Dunn had also been paying his dues as a singer, and had earned a songwriting credit in 1990 with Asleep at the Wheel, who were the first artists to record “Boot Scootin’ Boogie.”
Dunn had won a singing contest that earned him a recording session with producer Scott Hendricks, who recommended Dunn to the head of Arista’s new Nashville division, Tim DuBois. The label head thought Kix Brooks would be a good songwriting partner for Dunn, but when he heard their demo recording of one of their first songs, he sensed they could work well together as a vocal duo.
Their first single, “Brand New Man,” launched them to immediate stardom.
The No. 1
Try to go back and hear this one with fresh ears.
Brooks & Dunn’s sound has been so established for so long, and imitated by so many other artists, that it’s easy to forget how unique they were out of the gate.
“Brand New Man” is a fantastic record, with a driving energy that showcases Dunn’s Haggard-influenced vocals. Brooks & Dunn won Vocal Duo in a walk for the better part of two decades, but it’s worth noting that Dunn could’ve given any of the Male Vocalists from that same era a run for their money, and there were a hell of a lot of great male singers in the nineties.
Brooks is easily overlooked in this pairing, and often taken for granted. Heck, some people even think he’s short, looking at him next to Dunn. (Brooks is 6′ 2″.) But that driving energy I mentioned earlier? Brooks is its engine, creating an urgency to their rave-ups the way that Dunn brings high and lonesome to their ballads.
“Brand New Man” kicks off a legendary career, and sets a highwater mark for the duo that they’d match only a handful of times during their run.
The Road From No. 1
We’ve got three more No. 1 singles on deck from Brand New Man, including one more before the end of 1991.
“Brand New Man” gets an A.