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George Strait

50 Number Ones – 2004 (MCA Nashville)

Reviewed by Rick Bell

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CDs by George Strait

A collection of George Strait's 50 number is not a tremendously compelling listen. Make no mistake, 50 number 1 hits is an incredible accomplishment. In and of itself, the album is a tribute to country music's most enduring, consistent performer over the past quarter-century. It's a reminder that Strait reintroduced us to western swing and dance hall shuffles with his cool, reassuring Texas drawl and a band that knew its country licks. His ballads melted women's hearts yet never offended the toughest of cowboys; Strait's always been one of the guys. He rides, he ropes and he sings a country song like no other.

His career has been amazing, really, but the two-disc collection is a compilation of Strait's most-played cuts. It simply lacks what a Strait album normally offers. And, some of the songs beg the question, "This was a No. 1 hit?" Call it sacrilege, but songs like "It Ain't Cool to be Crazy About You" or "Baby Blue" or "What's Going on in Your World" or "Carried Away" aren't all that good. In fact, there are several others that in retrospect are questionable number ones. Just because it tops the charts doesn't make it a great song.

An unreleased track other than "I Hate Everything" (another questionable number one) or an alternate version of a number one hit - say, "Blue Clear Sky," would have added something unique.