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Country - Released March 29, 2019 | MCA Nashville

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Austin's famed dancehall the Broken Spoke adorns the cover of Honky Tonk Time Machine, George Strait's 30th album. Look closely and it's possible to see a hint of the new apartment buildings that crowd this historic landmark: it's there on the right side, peeking into a frame that deliberately cuts out these modern monstrosities. This is all the better to present the Broken Spoke as the physical embodiment of the titular Honky Tonk Time Machine, a place that sends the listener back to another era. Strait's music -- always the same, always changing -- is a honky tonk time machine of its own, of course, adhering to traditions that seemed old-fashioned even when he delivered his debut, Strait Country, back in 1981. Honky Tonk Time Machine belongs in the same universe as Strait Country -- it may not have much in the way of Western Swing, but it's filled with barroom ballads, twanging shuffles, and a hint of Old Mexico -- but it's clearly and proudly the work of a veteran, one who isn't concerned with keeping up with trends. Working again with producer Chuck Ainlay and singing many songs co-written with his son Bubba and Dean Dillon, Strait doesn't attempt much new -- the biggest wrinkle is how he finally gets to "Sing One with Willie," a knowing, overdue, and delightful duet with Nelson, the other undisputed king of Texas country -- and in some respects, he trumpets that he's out of step with the times. Strait celebrates "God and Country Music," a sentimental ballad that gets sticky when kids are brought in for a chorus, and he sings about "The Weight of the Badge," a plaintive tribute to police that could be read as a protest within the charged climate of 2019. Of course, Strait doesn't throw bombs: "The Weight of the Badge" is nuanced and humanistic, qualities that animate the entirety of Honky Tonk Time Machine. Whether he's performing an ode to tequila, juke joints, or covering Johnny Paycheck's "Old Violin," Strait sings with humor, tenderness, and ease, qualities that lend the deliberately nostalgic Honky Tonk Time Machine grace, resonance, and depth. Perhaps this isn't a new trick for Strait, but it's one to be cherished nonetheless. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Country - Released January 1, 2004 | MCA Nashville

There have been plenty of George Strait compilations, and most of have been very good, but none have been as good as 2004's 50 Number Ones. While the 1995 box set Strait Out of the Box illustrated the range and depth of Strait's musical achievement, it may have been too lengthy for some listeners, and shorter compilations like the two-volume The Very Best of Strait left too many hits behind -- and by 2004, all those compilations were out-dated, since Strait continued to top the charts until the release of 50 Number Ones. This double-disc contains all the big hits that he's had since Strait Out of the Box, along with all of his classics from the '80s and early '90s. The title might bend the truth a little bit -- at least according to the Billboard charts, such latter-day singles as "True" and "Run" only peaked at number two, not number one -- but it doesn't matter, since this contains all of his major singles in one convenient package. And it's not noteworthy just because it's one-stop shopping, it's also noteworthy because it proves exactly how consistent George Strait's body of work has been over the last twenty-some years. From start to finish, there's not a slow spot here -- it's a thoroughly entertaining collection that belongs in the ranks of country's greatest-hits albums. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Country - Released September 25, 2015 | MCA Nashville

George Strait rode off into the sunset in 2014, retreating from the road via an uncharacteristically well-hyped two-year farewell. Strait may have hung up his touring boots but he didn't retire, so his re-emergence in the fall of 2015 with the sudden release of a brand-new studio album called Cold Beer Conversation accompanied by a Las Vegas residency shouldn't be a surprise: he never said he'd stop singing. Appropriately, Cold Beer Conversation feels like a continuation, another reliable record arriving right on schedule, just two years after the last. Behind the scenes, there were some shifts, with Tony Brown -- who has been part of the Strait team since 1992 -- bestowing the producer seat to Chuck Ainlay, a relative newcomer who produced hits for Miranda Lambert and her band Pistol Annies, along with engineering everybody from Emmylou Harris to Taylor Swift. Ainlay provides just the slightest hint of contemporization, opening up the mix a bit and adding splashes of handsomely burnished color, subtle -- almost imperceptible -- changes that nevertheless freshen Strait's proudly traditional country without pushing it into a cacophonous modern mainstream. Instead, Ainlay's work emphasizes continuity as much as the selection of songs from George's stable of writers: originals composed by the singer and his son Bubba, a co-write by Jamey Johnson and Tom Shapiro ("Something Going Down"), a selection by Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally ("Take Me to Texas"), credits by Keith Gattis, Al Anderson, and Buddy Cannon, among others. While the vibe is quite relaxed -- not for nothing is the album named after an alluringly lazy throwback to Strait's early-'80s work -- it nevertheless allows room for plenty of different styles, ranging from the snapping twang of "Goin' Goin' Gone" and Texas dancehall shuffle "Cheaper Than a Shrink" to the surprisingly raucous "Rock Paper Scissors" and the Western Swing of "It Takes All Kinds." Still, what holds the album together is Strait's mellow command. He's a singer that can make quiet seem compelling, and there are plenty of instances in this tight, wholly satisfying record where he demands attention by not asking for it. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Country - Released September 16, 2014 | MCA Nashville

After three decades of hits, George Strait announced in 2012 he planned to retire after a final tour. Strait didn't plan to abandon music -- he went on record claiming that he still hoped to cut his traditional record a year -- but big arena shows were starting to wear on him, so he launched The Cowboy Rides Away tour, allowing all of his fans one final chance to see him in their hometown. The 2014 live album commemorating that farewell tour captures the final show on the tour, a stop in Arlington, Texas on June 7, 2014 where a host of stars stopped by to celebrate Strait's career. Some of the invited guests are only marginally associated with Strait -- Sheryl Crow, in the middle of her country reinvention, feels a tad out of place even if she amiably smiles through "Here for a Good Time" -- but there are plenty of old friends (Vince Gill, Alan Jackson), family (Bubba Strait), and new guns carrying the torch (Jason Aldean, Eric Church). The 20-song set list means there are many hits that didn't make the cut, but never once do they cross your mind as the concert unfolds: this is all relaxed, easy, and effortlessly entertaining, a reminder of all Strait's great gifts and evidence of why he'll be missed. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Country - Released January 1, 1992 | Geffen*

George Strait is one of the leading proponents of a traditional country music that is styled with Texas swing, delivering his music with a rich, no frills voice and a straight-ahead delivery. PURE COUNTRY is the soundtrack to Strait's film debut, offering a variety of swinging shuffles, traditional honky tonk, weepy ballads and country rockers. He wears his influences proudly, and having been doing it so well for so long, he has, in turn, become a major influence on the next generation of new traditionalists. One can clearly hear Merle Haggard, Bob Wills and George Jones in his music; but give a listen to new guys like Clay Walker, and you'll hear a distinctive George Strait influence. Riding a flat-bed of fiddle, pedal steel and genuinely heartfelt vocals, Strait takes the listener on a tour of the country singer's world. On the uptempo "Heartland," George explains that to "sing a song about the heartland" is to "sing a song about my life." The album's hit, "I Cross My Heart," is a strong love ballad co-written by one of Nashville's best current songwriters, Eric Kaz. A gentle fiddle leads the listener into the cry-in-your-beer classic "When Did You Stop Loving Me," and before long the fiddle is weeping alongside George. Strait cuts loose on several songs, but its the trademark hard country tracks like Mel Tillis' "Thoughts Of A Fool" that work best. Jim Lauderdale provides the strongest and most traditional sounding material (particularly "King Of Broken Hearts"), yet both of his songs have clever, modern musical twists.
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Country - Released March 29, 2019 | MCA Nashville

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Country - Released January 1, 1982 | Geffen* Records

George Strait may have landed his first number one in 1982, making him an "overnight sensation," but he'd been working for it since 1976. Strait From the Heart boasts "Fool-Hearted Memory," a perfect slow two-step that raged in all the dancehalls in America for half a year and sent folks to the bins in droves seeking out Strait's records. What they found was a singer of uncommon vitality who could sing honky tonk, countrypolitan, and the new traditional sounds that were just beginning to assert themselves after the first wave of "new country." The new Strait fans were interested in the ballads such as "Marina del Rey" and "A Fire I Can't Put Out," but they are hardly the best cuts on the set. In fact, when Strait lets it get on the raw side is when he is at his best. Tracks such as "Honky Tonk Crazy," his cover of Guy Clark's "Heartbroke," the Western swing of his original "I Can't See Texas From Here," and the strutting barroom anthem "The Steal of the Night" offer a portrait of Strait as a man who can do it all. His work is not over-produced, and his voice rings clear and true, offering only what the song needs to reveal itself to the listener. Strait From the Heart may not be the exact beginning of the story, but it is the first part of the legend. ~ Thom Jurek
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Country - Released January 1, 2008 | MCA Nashville

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Country - Released January 1, 1987 | Geffen* Records

This excellent album went triple platinum for country-singing great George Strait. It was a sure success with songs like "Am I Blue," "All My Ex's Live in Texas," "Burning Flames," "My Heart Won't Wander," and the fun title track, "Ocean Front Property" -- which hit the Billboard music charts with a firm number one debut holding spot. In today's country music world, Strait, a native Texan and one-time rancher, has served as a strong role model for many young artists hoping to follow in his impressive footsteps. His music seems able to reach both critics and fans, either with emotion or simple toe-tapping swing rhythm, offering modern country that doesn't forget its roots. Ocean Front Property is one of those albums that you'll want to keep close at hand, since it's a perfect replayer, and great if you like to sing along. ~ Charlotte Dillon
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Country - Released January 1, 2013 | MCA Nashville

George Strait decided he'd retire from the road once he turned 60, so he launched a farewell tour in 2013 that is scheduled to run into 2014. Hanging up his concert hat doesn't necessarily indicate that he's taking a break from recording, so there's no suggestion that Love Is Everything -- his 28th studio album, released in May of 2013, just as the farewell tour began -- will be his final recording. True enough, Love Is Everything does not have the gravity that's required of a final statement, as it glides by with the natural ease that has been Strait's signature since the start. This light touch combined with Strait's unapologetic slowing gait -- there aren't nearly as many breezy numbers as there were last time around on 2011's Here for a Good Time -- make for an appealingly mellow little record, one heavy on ballads ranging from such sweet pieces of sunburnt pop as "Sittin' on the Fence" to such old-fashioned romantic crooning such as "I Just Can't Go on Dying Like This," which would have felt equally comfortable in the hands of either George Jones or Frank Sinatra. Strait can still kick up a little dust -- "The Night Is Young" is a good Texas two-step, "I Thought I Heard My Heart Sing" nearly bounces along on the giddiness of its melody -- but he's not so concerned in exercising that swing muscle all that often. He'd rather lay back and sings songs of love won and lost, and even if that means Love Is Everything isn't necessarily ambitious, it is remarkably satisfying. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Country - Released January 1, 2000 | MCA Nashville

With a career that spans nearly 20 years, 26 albums that have been certified platinum or multi-platinum, and countless number-one and Top-Ten hits, it's probably easy for George Strait to gather some songs for a greatest-hits album. The cream of the crop turn up here, drawn from his four most recent studio albums. "Carrying Your Love With Me," "Adalida," "Blue Clear Sky," and "Today My World Slipped Away" are just a few of the celebrated songs that grace this prodigious 15-song anthology. But no country artist's greatest-hits album is complete without the obligatory addition of at least two new songs, and Strait fulfills this obligation with a slightly appealing duet with fellow country artist Alan Jackson, crooning about "Murder on Music Row," and "The Best Day," which has filled the airwaves of country radio. It takes only one listen to Latest Greatest Straitest Hits to remind listerners that George Strait continues to hit them out of the park and will go down in history as one of the top country entertainers of all time. ~ Maria Konicki Dinoia
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Country - Released January 1, 2007 | Wrasse Records Ltd.

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Country - Released January 1, 1983 | Geffen* Records

The electric pianos that kick off "You Look So Good in Love," the opening song on George Strait's third album Right or Wrong, may suggest that Strait is softening a bit, but that first impression is a bit misleading. As soon as that ballad is over, he launches into the Bob Wills standard that gives this album its title and he's as dexterous and as pure country as ever, and the rest of the album follows the lead of its title song, not the opening cut. To be sure, there are other ballads and slightly slicker material here, but the heart of this record is in the pure country of the Bakersfield love tune "A Little Heaven's Rubbing Off on Me," the light, funny "80 Proof Bottle of Tear Stopper," the Merle Haggard cover "Our Paths May Never Cross" and the barroom weeper "Let's Fall to Pieces Together." The overall tone of Right or Wrong is a little bit lighter than his first two albums -- the Western swing skips, it doesn't ride the beat hard, the honky tonk numbers don't hit at the gut, they hit at the heart -- but that only emphasizes how natural Strait's delivery is, and how he makes it all sound easy, and all sound good. It's another fine album from a singer who was already notching up a lot of them. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Country - Released January 1, 1996 | Geffen* Records

Country's most consistent traditionalist, George Strait, scores again with Blue Clear Sky, one of the best albums of his 15-year career. Blue Clear Sky shows off Strait's range with a well-chosen sweep of material. "Rockin' in the Arms of Your Memory" and "I'd Just as Soon Go" prove that well-written, mainstream adult ballads can carry an insinuating strength when performed with the subtle grace of a master. On "Need I Say More," Strait reveals again that he's also a wonderful jazz-tinged crooner. "I Ain't Never Seen No One Like You" swings with the joyful ease of a youngster on a backyard set, and "Do the Right Thing" gives Strait the chance to show casually that he can navigate an eccentric meter, masking how difficult the inventive arrangement might have been for a lesser vocalist. Strait, an experienced calf-roping competitor, also includes "I Can Still Make Cheyenne." Instead of creating a deadly, dramatic situation or joking about the macho manner of the lifestyle, the song uses a telephone call between a struggling rider and his lover to convey the dreams, the fears, the financial hardships, and the difficulties of life on the road that surround the sport. Just like the singer, the song relies on quietly reserved emotion to convey enormously important sentiments. ~ Michael McCall
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Country - Released January 1, 2003 | MCA Nashville

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Country - Released January 1, 2011 | MCA Nashville

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Country - Released January 1, 1997 | MCA Nashville

Blue Clear Sky was a defining moment in George Strait's career, illustrating that he could still deliver a masterpiece in the latter half of his career. Its follow-up, Carrying Your Love With Me, isn't quite as strong, yet it still has a number of very nice moments, making it a worthwhile endeavor for fans, even if it lacks its predecessor's resonance. ~ Thom Owens
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Country - Released January 1, 2002 | MCA Nashville

George Strait himself chose the 12 number one country hits included in this midline-priced compilation, which presents digitally remastered tracks. The hits ranged from "You Look So Good in Love," which topped the charts at the start of 1984, to "Easy Come, Easy Go," a number one in October 1993. During this period, an additional 11 Strait singles also reached the country summit, so this is just a sampling. Some of his biggest hits (i.e., ones that stayed at number one longer) -- such as "Love Without End, Amen" and "I've Come to Expect It From You" -- are included, while others -- such as "You Know Me Better Than That" and "If I Knew Me" -- are not. In the less easily quantifiable category of signature songs, again some are included, notably "All My Ex's Live in Texas," while others, such as "Ocean Front Property," are missing. So Strait easily could come up with a second volume for 20th Century Masters -- The Millennium Collection without even getting too far into the 1990s. And he probably will. ~ William Ruhlmann
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Country - Released January 1, 1989 | Geffen* Records

It could easily be argued that George Strait never made a bad album and they were all hits, but even among that remarkably consistent catalog, 1989's Beyond the Blue Neon stands apart from the pack, with half of its ten tracks reaching the country charts. Three of these topped the charts -- "Baby's Gotten Good at Goodbye," "What's Going on in Your World," and "Ace in the Hole" -- with "Overnight Success" peaking at eight and "Hollywood Squares," a novelty so sly and understated that it never cracks a smile, scraping the bottom reaches of the charts. An easy nature is one of Strait's signatures -- he never makes anything look difficult -- and he's never made music that seems as easy as this. That casual virtuosity can disguise just how virtuosic this album is. Strait hits the same touchstones as always -- Western swing, barroom ballads, honky tonk shuffles, laments, and two-steps -- but what's missing is that slight coat of gloss that always distinguished his singles on the albums after he turned into a superstar. Instead, this is all pure country -- lean and clean, punchy enough to be modern but never making concessions to the radio, without being slavishly faithful to the past -- and that vibe alone is enough to make this different. But what makes Beyond the Blue Neon exceptional, one of his very best records, is that every one of the ten songs is irresistible, whether galloping along like "Angel, Angelina" and "Oh Me, Oh My Sweet Baby" or wallowing in its misery like "Too Much of Too Little." This diversity makes Beyond the Blue Neon a classic barroom album, playing equally well as party music or music to drown your sorrows. In a career filled with good music, this is one of the truly essential records. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Country - Released February 1, 2019 | MCA Nashville