George Strait

Chronicles

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MCA Nashville's George Strait box set Chronicles, subtitled "3 Classic Albums," is nothing more or less than a repackaging of Strait's third, fourth, and fifth albums, Right or Wrong (1983), Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind (1984), and Something Special (1985), in which the CDs and their single-sheet booklets have been lifted out of their jewel boxes, placed in a 5¾" x 10½" box, and marketed as a set. It's a logical grouping. Strait actually made his commercial breakthrough with his second album, Strait from the Heart, but these three LPs each topped the Billboard country charts, throwing off eight hit singles -- "You Look So Good in Love," "Right or Wrong," "Let's Fall to Pieces Together," "Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind," "The Cowboy Rides Away," "The Fireman," "You're Something Special to Me," and "The Chair." Country albums don't tend to be very long, and these are not exceptions to that rule; each contains only ten tracks and runs less than half an hour, resulting in a three-CD box set with a running time of only 85 minutes. The pick of the litter, of course, is 1985 Country Music Association Album of the Year Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind, but all three discs take much the same approach. Strait, who favors white cowboy hats and button-down shirts, sings and plays in traditional country style, rarely straying from the bar and jukebox that are staples of the genre. Each album has at least a couple of tracks in Western swing arrangements, with Something Special boasting four. These are albums only in the sense that they are collections of individual tracks; there is no conceptual unity to the material, which was contributed by 43 different songwriters, including Fred Rose, Merle Haggard, Jo-el Sonnier, Hank Cochran, Peter Rowan, and Harlan Howard. But that means the discs can be put in a multiple-CD player and played one after another (or in random sequencing) without any change in mood.

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