September 12, 1995
Country, Contemporary Country, Western Swing Revival, New Traditionalist

Album Review

A truly comprehensive four-CD compilation covering the years 1976-1995, including all 31 of his number one hits, 11 more chart singles of great musical significance, 19 LP tracks, and 11 more rare tracks, plus a brace of unreleased songs that are anything but leftovers. The opening three tracks, all written by Strait and dating from 1976-1979, show a lot of potential on his part as a singer fronting a competent band. 1981's "Unwound" was where his career lifted off, and his singing takes on serious depth and range. Beyond "Unwound," there's a lot here that could've done well as singles, displaying his early sound as a mix of traditional country and country-pop. Strait ultimately rebelled against the latter, but the songs off of his first two LPs show a prodigious talent in any milieu he'd have chosen to work. Disc two opens with the Bob Wills number "Right or Wrong," which became central to Strait's sound and image and, in the early '80s, was a reminder that as smooth as those early MCA songs had been, Strait had a genuine commitment to Western swing and traditional country music. Disc three divides its space between ballads and honky tonk numbers, with some comedy and some bracing Western swing. Disc four is all '90s material, right up through 1995. The cut that helped sell this set is Strait's never-issued 1993 duet with Frank Sinatra on "Fly Me to the Moon," which never should have been left off the Duets album -- the two singers' voices sound right together, and the song works as is. The producers have provided a booklet with an extensive biographical essay, a full sessionography, and comments from Strait himself on each of the songs included.
Bruce Eder, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. I Just Can't Go on Dying Like This
  2. (That Don't Change) The Way I Feel About You
  3. I Don't Want to Talk It over Anymore
  4. Unwound
  5. Blame It on Mexico
  6. Her Goodbye Hit Me in the Heart
  7. If You're Thinking You Want a Stranger (There's One Coming Home)
  8. Any Old Love Won't Do [#]
  9. Fool Hearted Memory
  10. Marina del Rey
  11. I Can't See Texas from Here
  12. Heartbroke
  13. What Would Your Memories Do [#]
  14. Amarillo by Morning
  15. I Thought I Heard You Calling My Name [#]
  16. Fire I Can't Put Out
  17. You Look So Good in Love
  18. 80 Proof Bottle of Tear Stopper
  19. Right or Wrong
  20. Let's Fall to Pieces Together
  21. Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind
  22. The Cowboy Rides Away
  23. The Fireman
  24. Chair
  25. You're Something Special to Me
  26. Haven't You Heard
  27. In Too Deep
  28. Lefty's Gone
  29. Nobody in His Right Mind Would've Left Her
  30. It Ain't Cool to Be Crazy About You
  31. Ocean Front Property
  32. Rhythm of the Road
  33. Six Pack to Go
  34. All My Ex's Live in Texas
  35. Am I Blue
  36. Famous Last Words of a Fool
  37. Baby Blue
  38. If You Ain't Lovin' (You Ain't Livin')
  39. Baby's Gotten Good at Goodbye
  40. Bigger Man Than Me
  41. Hollywood Squares
  42. What's Going on in Your World
  43. Ace in the Hole
  44. Love Without End, Amen
  45. Drinking Champagne
  46. I've Come to Expect It from You
  47. If I Know Me
  48. You Know Me Better Than That
  49. The Chill of an Early Fall
  50. Lovesick Blues
  51. Milk Cow Blues
  52. Gone as a Girl Can Get
  53. So Much Like My Dad
  54. Trains Make Me Lonesome
  55. Wonderland of Love
  56. I Cross My Heart
  57. Heartland
  58. When Did You Stop Loving Me
  59. Overnight Male
  60. The King of Broken Hearts
  61. Where the Sidewalk Ends
  62. Easy Come, Easy Go
  63. I'd Like to Have That One Back
  64. Lovebug
  65. The Man in Love With You
  66. Just Look at Me
  67. Stay Out of My Arms
  68. Big Ball's in Cowtown [With Asleep at the Wheel]
  69. Big One
  70. Fly Me to the Moon [#]
  71. Check Yes or No [#]
  72. I Know She Still Loves Me [#]
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