Journal Of Country Music (Vol.18, Num.1, pp.52-54) - "...remarkably consistent: the rarely heard, pre-MCA songs...aren't all that different in tone and tempo from the most recent tunes....[he] comes across like the musical equivalent of Gary Cooper's film image: honest, stolid, denying all self-pity, thoroughly admirable in a thoroughly low-key way..."
Personnel includes: George Strait (vocals, guitar); Frank Sinatra, Hank Thompson (vocals); Steve Gibson, Gregg Galbraith, Steve Chapman, Jimmy Capps, Jerry Shook, Fred Newell, Pete Bordonali (guitar); Mike Daily, John Hughey, Weldon Myrick (steel guitar); Cindy Cashdollar (Hawaiian steel guitar); Johnny Gimble (mandolin, fiddle); Mark O'Connor, Gene Elders, Stuart Duncan, Glen Duncan (fiddle); Jim Horn (alto flute, saxophone); Steve Marsh (saxophone); Floyd Domino, Randy McCormick, Ronnie Huckaby, Bill Miller (piano); Mitch Humphries, Hargus "Pig" Robbins (keyboards); Terry Hale, David Hungate, Leland Sklar, Joe Chemay, Emory Gordy, Jr. (bass); Owen Hale, Larrie Londin (drums).
Asleep At The Wheel includes: Ray Benson, Ricky Turpin, Michael Francis, Tim Alexander, Dave Sanger.
The Nashville String Machine: George Binkley, John David Boyle, Marvin Chantry, Roy Christensen, Virginia Christensen, Carl Gorodetzky, Lennie Haight, Dennis Molchan, Walter Schwede, Donald Teal, Gary Vanosdale, Pamela Vanosdale, Stephanie Woolf.
Producers include: Don Daily, Blake Mevis, Jimmy Bowen, Tony Brown, George Strait.
Compilation producer: George Strait.
Recorded between June 1976 and April 10, 1995. Includes liner notes by Paul Kingsbury, Dee Henry Jenkins and Kay West.
"Check Yes Or No" won the 1996 Country Music Association Award for Single Of The Year, and George Strait won the C.M.A. award for Male Vocalist Of The Year.
Personnel: George Strait (vocals, guitar, background vocals); Frank Sinatra, Hank Thompson (vocals); Leon Rhodes (guitar, bass guitar); Ray Benson, Ronnie Brooks, Ron Anthony (guitar); Leo Jackson, Paul Yandell, Gregg Galbraith, Brent Mason (acoustic guitar, electric guitar); Steve Chapman , Dave Kirby, David Anthony, Bob Thompson , Jimmy Capps, Joe Barnhill, Pat Flynn , Randy Scruggs, Richard Bennett , Steve Gibson , Jerry Shook, Bobby Thompson (acoustic guitar); Curtis Young (electric guitar, background vocals); Chip Young, Pete Bordonali, Billy Joe Walker, Jr., Rick McRae, Larry Byrom, Leland Sklar, Reggie Young , Benny McArthur, Fred Newell, Brent Rowan (electric guitar); Sonny Garrish (steel guitar, dobro); Cindy Cashdollar, Mike Daily, Hank DeVito, Ruben Gosfeld, Paul Franklin , Weldon Myrick, John Hughey, Buddy Emmons (steel guitar); Johnny Gimble (mandolin, fiddle, saxophone); Ricky Turpin (mandolin, fiddle); Gene Elders, Glen Duncan , Hoot Hester, Bill Mabry, Mark Feldman , Mark O'Connor , Rob Hajacos, Stuart Duncan, Buddy Spicher (fiddle); Jim Horn, Michael Francis, Steve Marsh (saxophone); Steve Nathan (piano, synthesizer); Ronnie Huckaby, John Barlow Jarvis, Matt Rollings, Randy McCormick, Tim Alexander , John Jarvis, Bill Miller , Floyd Domino (piano); Jamie Whiting, John Hobbs, Mitch Humphries, Hargus "Pig" Robbins, Bobby Wood (keyboards); Clyde Brooks, David Sanger , Gene Chrisman, Tom Foote, Gregg Field, Bob Gelotte, Phil Fisher, Larrie Londin, Matt Betton, Eddie Bayers, Jerry Kroon, Owen Hale, Jerry Carrigan (drums); Diane Tidwell, Donna Sheridan, Rita Figlio, Gwen Kay, Marcy Cates, Wade McCurdy, Doug Clements, Liana Young, Harry Stinson, Sherilyn Huffman, Sandra Callaway, Arlene Hardin, Bobby Hardin, Judy Rodman, Andrea Zonn, Liana Manis, Louis Dean Nunley, Margie Cates, Buddy Cannon (background vocals).
Liner Note Author: Paul Kingsbury.
Recording information: 06/??/1976-04/10/1995.
Director: Patrick Williams.
Photographers: Jarrett Gaza; Peter Nash ; Alan Mayor; Beth Gwinn; Don Putnam; Jim McGuire ; Tom Wilkes ; Keith Carter; George Strait; Jim Shea; Rick Henson; Slick Lawson; Jerry Smith; Mark Tucker ; Mike Rutherford .
Unknown Contributor Roles: Lennie Haight; Donald Teal; Walter Schwede; Dennis Molchan; Pamela VanOsdale; Stephanie Woolf; John David Boyle; George Binkley III; Roy Christensen; Virginia Christensen; Carl Gorodetzky; Marvin Chantry; Gary VanOsdale.
During the early '80s, when crossover fever ruled the Nashville roost, George Strait did his darndest to keep a sense of tradition within country music's capital. With a sound built on Bob Wills' big-band swing and George Jones' Texas tall tales, and refined through years of playing Lone Star honky-tonks, Strait took Music City by storm, proving that hits and critical praise were not mutually exclusive. Strait embodied mainstream country's glance into its own history during the '80s, and by the end of the decade was among its biggest stars. STRAIT OUT OF THE BOX documents this climb of a neo- traditionalist, spotlighting some unexpected twists and previously unreleased turns.
The portrait of Strait that emerges is of a stately singer and bandleader, with a skill for finding hits and getting the most out of his sidemen. On the rarely-heard, early singles, his Ace In The Hole band shines, the various string instruments at once echoing the singer's words and cooking up a sweet honky-tonk shuffle. It is a sound he wouldn't readily abandon. By the time of "Unwound," his first country top-ten, Strait had already added a commercial gleam to his Texas swing. The fiddle bounces and cries with a melody reminiscent of Hank, Sr., as Strait tells a mid-tempo tale of a dissolving love. After that, seemingly every song he touched turned into a chart-topper--from the uptown country-pop of "Marina Del Ray," which is like a late-period Beach Boys tune wrapped in a southern twang, to the waltz of "Let's Fall To Pieces Together," which features the plaintive fiddle of Johnny Gimble, to the spare "Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind," cushioned by Hank DeVito's steel guitar. The rest, as they say, is history.
The newest tracks on STRAIT OUT OF THE BOX spotlight Strait's ability to build new sounds out of familiar pieces. "Check Yes Or No" resonates with the big country sound of Garth Brooks and memories of childhood romance, and "Fly Me To The Moon," an unreleased duet with Frank Sinatra, is a light-hearted stroll through the crossroads of their respective styles. Sharing the microphone with the Chairman Of The Board--what better way is there to measure an artist's success?