CD Review of 22 More Hits by George Strait
Recommended if you like
Johnny Cash, Vince Gill,
Brooks & Dunn
Label
MCA Nashville Records
George Strait: 22 More Hits

Reviewed by Red Rocker

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I
f George Strait had really been thinking, well, straight a few years back when he released his career-spanning opus Fifty Number Ones, he would’ve just added “and still counting…” to the title and saved us any suspense. It’s not like King George, member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and nominated for more CMA awards than any other living artist, was going to blow out of town like tumbleweed and never be heard from again. Quite the contrary. 22 More Hits comes right on the heels of last year’s smash It Just Comes Natural, which has spawned four more hits itself -- only one of which is included here, the album-opening “How ‘Bout Them Cowgirls.”

Just shy of 30 years into his calling, Strait is not short on greatest hits compilations. In fact, the names of these collections alone are worth buying: Latest Greatest Straitest Hits and the massive box set Strait out of the Box. Not to mention, how many artists could even begin to fill an album entitled Fifty Number Ones?! And it’s just as it advertises -- 50 songs that each hit #1 on Billboard’s chart. Wow.

To be fair, 22 More Hits is not an extension of the Fifty Number Ones mission. These are more aptly described as fan favorites, lost gems that get brushed off frequently in live performances and requested on radio but never found huge chart success. The time span among these tracks is vast, indeed. Strait’s first Top 10, “Unwound,” is on board, as is “Amarillo by Morning,” from his second album, Strait from the Heart, released in 1982. Other notable throwbacks include “Marina Del Ray” and the jumpy honky-tonk classic “The Fireman.” More recent material like “Don’t Make Me Come Over There and Love You” and “Cowboys Like Us” was largely passed over by radio and CMT, yet rightfully finds its way past the final cut here.

A career like George Strait’s -- 39 albums in 26 years -- is difficult to ignore. Whether you’re a casual country music fan or someone who avoids the genre altogether, it’s impossible not to acknowledge his staying power or unrivaled influence. Even when he’s not churning out an album of his own, which is rarely, Strait is often collaborating (recently with powerhouses Kenny Chesney, Jimmy Buffett, and Alan Jackson), writing or touring in support of fellow country artists. He is the definition of a legend in his own time, and if he’s somehow gone unnoticed in your world, 22 More Hits is as good a place as any to fall in line.

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