In 1981, George Strait released his debut album. With his cowboy look and his traditional honky-tonk style, his image and sound were a world away from the prevailing country trends of the day. Yet people loved it. 40 years later, they still do. Today, Strait is recognized as a country music legend. With over 100 million album sales and 60 number-one hits under his belt, he’s one of the best-selling artists of all time. Here’s our pick of the 10 best George Strait albums of all time, ranked.
10. Carrying Your Love With Me
As tasteofcountry.com says, a bad review of one of George Strait’s albums usually begins with something like: “George Strait has never made a bad album, but …” and ends with effusive praise of the singer’s timeless style. Such is the case with Carrying Your Love With Me. It may only have made it to No. 10 on our list, but make no mistake – this is a beautiful album. Released in 1997, three of its four singles climbed to No 1 on the country charts, while the album itself managed to pick up both the CMA Album of the Year and the 1998 ACM Album of the Year. It’s since been certified three times platinum.
As Live About says, Strait has always had a knack for picking just the right songs for his albums, something that’s more than obvious on 2003’s Honkytonkville. There’s not a bad seed in the bunch, although special mention has to be made of I Found Jesus on the Jailhouse Floor, Tell Me Something Bad About Tulsa, and the No. 2 hit. Cowboys Like Us. Released on June 10, 2003, the album made it to No. 1 on the country charts and No. 5 on the Billboard 200.
8. It Just Comes Natural
With 15 tracks to its name, It Just Comes Natural is a lot longer than most of Strait’s albums. But unlike most long albums, there’s not a single piece of filler to be found. From the emotional I Ain’t Her Cowboy Anymore to the No. 1 single Give It Away and the dancehall-ready How ‘Bout Them Cowgirls, every track is essential listening. Released in October 2006, the album soared to No.1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and No. 3 on the Billboard 200, eventually certifying Platinum.
In 2008, Strait released his 35th studio album, Troubadour. Each of the twelve tracks is strong, with the country waltz It Was Me and the introspective title track standing out as particular highlights. The album climbed to No. 1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Top Country Charts. It also managed to pick up a Grammy Award for Best County Album – the first of Strait’s career.
6. Pure Country
In 1992, George Strait made his acting debut in “Pure Country.” Not content to merely star in the film, he also provided its entire soundtrack. The film fell short of expectations, but the album exceeded them, selling over 6 million copies and becoming one of Strait’s most successful albums to date. As a piece of trivia, it was the first of Strait’s albums to be produced by Tony Brown, who’s since gone on to produce all of his subsequent albums.
5. The Road Less Traveled
By the time he came to record his 21st album, Strait was in the mood to mix things up, ramping up the percussion, adding some synths, and even dabbling with some Cher-esque vocal augmentation. Critics weren’t keen on the departure from his usual straightforward country style, but fans lapped it up, sending The Road Less Traveled to No. 1 on the country charts and No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100. Standout tracks include Good Time Charley’s and the Merle Haggard penned My Life’s Been Grand.
4. Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind
For years after making his impressive debut, Strait proved he was in it for the long game with his fourth album, Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind. The singles – The Cowboy Rides Away and the infectious The Fireman – were all big hits, but the real magic is in deep cuts like the toe-tapping I Should Have Watched That First Step and the lighthearted Any Old Time. Released in September 1984, the album reached No. 1 on the country charts and certified Plantinum after exceeding album sales of 1 million in the US.
3. Ocean Front Property
In January 1987, Strait released his 7th studio album, Ocean Front Property. Packed with strong songs like Am I Blue, All My Ex’s Live in Texas, Burning Flames and My Heart Won’t Wander, it couldn’t fail – and it certainly didn’t do that. Described by All Music as “a perfect replayer” and “great if you like to sing along,” it cemented Strait’s reputation as someone whose music could connect with both critics and fans alike. Since debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Album’s Chart (his first album to do so), it’s been certified 2x multi-platinum by the RIAA.
2. Strait Country
By the turn of the 1980s, country artists had become consumed with crossover success, with the result that overblown production and poppy sounds had taken over. But then along came an unknown artist named George Strait with a honky-tonk sound and an unapologetically back-to-basics approach. Thanks to the combination of Dean Dillon’s formidable songwriting and Strait’s wonderful baritone, Strait’s debut was a success, reaching No. 26 on the Billboard 100 and certifying platinum by the RIAA.
1. Blue Clear Sky
Strait’s 16th studio album, Blue Clear Sky, finds him in fine form. The tracklist is incredibly strong, with the Western-styled I Can Still Make Cheyenne, the reflective She Knows When You’re On My Mind, and the irresistibly fun Do The Right Thing standing out as key highlights. Released in April 1996, the album peaked at No. 1 on the country charts, No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100, and eventually certified 3x multi-platinum after selling over 3 million copies.