Every #1 Country Single of the Nineties: McBride & the Ride, “Sacred Ground”

“Sacred Ground”

McBride & the Ride

Written by Kix Brooks & Vernon Rust

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

June 5, 1992

One half of a superstar duo helps a vocal group score its only No. 1 single.

The Road to No. 1

McBride & the Ride was a vocal group created by producer Tony Brown, who was also an executive at MCA Nashville.  He put them together in his attempt to rival Alabama.  The trio he put together could’ve been a quartet, but Steve Fishell decided to be a producer instead, so the band consisted of lead singer Terry McBride and musicians Ray Herndon and Billy Thomas.

Their debut album, Burnin’ Up the Road, produced two moderate hits in 1991: “Can I Count On You” and “Same Old Star.”  For their second album, they borrowed the lead single and title track from Kix Brooks, one half of new superstar duo Brooks & Dunn, who had released “Sacred Ground” as his final solo single before joining up with Ronnie Dunn.

The No. 1

You can hear the remnants of Kix Brooks’ phrasing throughout “Sacred Ground,” despite Terry McBride’s smooth vocal style.  They’re working with some solid material here, and the trio put out a record that isn’t as good as Alabama’s uptempo hits from this time period, but certainly can compete with their ballads of the day.

They definitely sound like a label creation, though, without the benefit of road-tested harmonies.  As with most of their material, “Sacred Ground” feels like a vehicle for lead singer Terry McBride, with backup that could’ve just as easily been provided by session singers.

The Road From No. 1

Sacred Ground was the trio’s most successful project, selling gold and producing additional top ten hits with “Going Out of My Mind” and Just One Night.”  They put out one more album with this lineup, Hurry Sundown, which included one top five hit: “Love On the Loose, Heart On the Run.”

Then Herndon and Thomas left the band, and it was rechristened Terry McBride & the Ride, but another MCA album failed to repeat the success of Sacred Ground.

The original lineup has reformed from time to time, but all three have found steady work within Nashville since their brief heyday, popping up as musicians and songwriters for other artists.

“Sacred Ground” gets a B.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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  1. I agree that this “group” never sounded all that cohesive. Terry McBride had a pleasant enough voice but there was nothing terribly distinctive about him or his group. In a more just world, his father Dale McBride (1936-1992) might have become a major star. Dale, who recorded mostly for the Con Brio label had a more distinctive voice and achieved a decent level of success in his native Texas charting a dozen or so songs on Billboard, Cash Box and/or Record World during the 1970s (“Ordinary Man” got as high as 17 according to Cash Box)

  2. For the longest time, the only McBride and the Ride song that I was familiar with was “Love on the Loose, Heart on the Run.” I love that song and I always assumed it was a massive hit and a #1 song, so I’m surprised that “Sacred Ground” was their only #1. I recently listened to the Sacred Ground album for the first time and it’s solid, with a few really good songs.

  3. I personally love this song, and it’s another one that instantly brings back great childhood memories from when we were living in my dad’s house to when we moved into a new home. Just the intro alone takes me back to 1992 and early 1993. I’ve always really liked Terry McBride’s voice, as well, and thought Ray Herndon and Bill Thomas provided beautiful harmonies. Here, Terry does a great performance as the man who is owning up to his mistakes and will fight to get his significant other back. It’s also got some great steel playing as usual from Bruce Bouton, and I especially always loved the sound it makes at around the 0:07 mark of the video. It’s kind of cool as well that their first big hit is a Kix Brooks co-write, as I remember reading a comment Ronnie Dunn made about how he and Kix were fans of McBride & The Ride’s music before they had their own success as artists.

    For some reason, none of our stations seemed to hold on to any of McBride & The Ride’s hits as recurrents. Similar to Tracy Lawrence’s “Today’s Lonely Fool,” this was another song I rediscovered when I was revisiting one of my tapes from early 1993 in 1996. I remember thinking then “Wow, I haven’t heard this one in so long!”, and it just really took be back at that time, and I fell in love with it again all over. I also got reacquainted with these guys when one of our favorite barbeque restaurants used to play their Hurry Sundown album often back in the early 00’s.

    I now have McBride & The Ride’s first three albums, and I really enjoy them all. They’re all solid neo-traditional country albums typical of the time period, featuring great harmonies and McBride’s strong vocals. I especially love the first one, Burnin’ Up The Road, which features some excellent steel playing from Steve Fishell (who also produced the record), and I particularly adore the single, “Same Old Star,” from that album. I also really love their second album featuring this song, and it’s another one of my personal favorite early 90’s country albums that I purchased back in the early 00’s when I was collecting many albums from that era. “Going Out Of My Mind” is another one of my favorite songs of theirs, as well. Frank, “Love On The Loose, Heart On The Run” is also a favorite of mine!

    Personally, I also love the video for this song. It’s simple, but it really fits the song well. I especially love the shot of the sun peeking through the tree while the steel guitar makes that nice sound at 0:07 I mentioned above. That’s always been the sort of visual that pops into my head whenever I hear the intro to this song, as well. :)

    Btw, McBride & The Ride have actually reunited this year and are touring once again! As someone who’s always enjoyed their music, this was exciting news for me. But before he reunited with the guys, Terry was telling this kind of funny story about “Sacred Ground” knocking “Achy Breaky Heart” out of the number one spot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DmFtv_7h8rg

  4. Perhaps it doesn’t shine quite as brightly on “Sacred Ground”, but listen to the insanely tight three-part harmonies on “Just One Night” and you will reconsider thinking of this trio as just a “label creation.” They are breathtaking.

    My roommate in university was a vocal music major. He heard me listening to my cassette copy of ‘Sacred Ground’ and was captivated by “Just One Night.” He couldn’t get over it. He played it for his professors and his classmates. He was stunned by the performance.

    I also it warrants mentioning just how active McBride is as an extremely successful producer and songwriter in Nashville today. His long standing connection with Brooks & Dunn only began with this song.

    There was something special about “Sacred Ground” and this assembly of musicians.

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