With Ropin' the Wind, Garth Brooks begins to make his '70s rock influences more explicit. Naturally, that is most notable in his reworking of Billy Joel's "Shameless," which he transforms from a rock power ballad into contemporary country. But that influence is also evident on ambitious epics like "The River" and even the honky tonk ravers of "Papa Loved Mama" and "Rodeo." Some might say that those rock influences are what make Brooks a crossover success, but he wouldn't be nearly as successful if he didn't have a tangible country foundation to his music -- even when he comes close to standard arena rock bombast, there are gritty steel guitars or vocal inflections that prove he is trying to expand country's vocabulary, not trying to exploit it.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine