Top 10 Essential George Strait Albums

The Country Legend's Best of the Best

George Strait emerged in the early 1980s with a traditional sound that he's maintained over the course of his career. Strait's style draws from Western swing and honky tonk, and his signature musical style still influences many of today's rising stars.

After more than a quarter century, Strait can still top the charts, and fellow country artists are always honored to be chosen to tour with him. While he doesn't tour nearly as frequently as he used to, the shows that he does play almost always sell out. He's a country classic. These are the top ten albums every George Strait fan should own.

Carrying Your Love with Me won the 1997 CMA Album of the Year and the 1998 ACM Album of the Year. Of the four singles issued, three topped the Billboard country chart: "One Night at a Time," "Carrying Your Love with Me" and "Round About Way." The fourth, a remake of Vern Gosdin's "Today My World Slipped Away," peaked at No. 3.

Although it's generally agreed upon that this album wasn't as much of a commercial success as Strait's previous release, Blue Clear Sky, it is still certified three times platinum. It's a fine example of Strait's music.

Strait has a knack for picking out just the right songs for his albums, making him consistent, reliable talent, and 2003's Honkytonkville is the perfect example. He revs up his signature honky tonk style with tracks like "I Found Jesus on the Jailhouse Floor," in keeping with the stalwart tradition that all Saturday night sinners are Sunday saved.

The album's singles, including the yearning "Desperately," the weepy "Tell Me Something Bad About Tulsa" and the Western-themed "Cowboys Like Us," peaked at No's. 6, 11 and 2, respectively. Other standout tracks include "She Used to Say That About Me" and "Honk If You Honky Tonk."

Strait's fourth studio album, Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind, won the 1984 CMA Album of the Year award. This early Strait release contains a nice mix of fast-paced Western swing songs like "Any Old Time," country weepers like "I Should Have Watched That First Step," fun honky tonk tunes like "Love Comes from the Other Side of Town" and the scorching hot hit "The Fireman." Four years after his impressive debut, Strait proved that he was here to stay.

While many of Strait's earlier albums contained ten or 12 tracks, It Just Comes Natural has 15, and there isn't a single filler song to up the track count. This album has a great mix of styles, from the loping tempo of the title track, to the cleverly-written breakup No. 1 single "Give It Away," to the emotional Western-themed "I Ain't Her Cowboy Anymore" to the two step favorite "How 'Bout Them Cowgirls."

1987's Ocean Front Property cemented Strait's status as legend in the making. Some of his most memorable songs of all time are on this album, such as the up-tempo tune "All My Exes Live in Texas," the Western swing-style "Am I Blue" and the powerhouse title track.

Ocean Front Property has a solid mix of ballads, uptempo rockers and Western swing tunes, which definitely appealed to fans who bought enough copies of this album that it debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart, a first for Strait.

Strait's 2008 release, Troubadour, marks the singer's 35th studio release. The album won the 2008 CMA Award for Album of the Year, and the singles "I Saw God Today" and "River of Love" both peaked at No. 1.

The country waltz tune "It Was Me" has a storyline similar to Brad Paisley's "We Danced," the toe tappin' "Brothers of the Highway" tells the story of truck drivers and the title track is a introspective look back at one's life. Strait takes a page from Kenny Chesney's songbook with the island-y "River of Love."

Strait switched things up with The Road Less Traveled. On the honky tonk tune "Stars on the Water," a voice enhancer was used to change Strait's voice, making it slightly Cher-esque during some parts. The midtempo tune "Run" is percussion-driven, with an acoustic guitar acting as the only other outstanding instrument.

Country purists balked at the album's vocal augmentation and synthesized drums, but Strait's change of pace didn't seem to hurt album sales. The Road Less Traveled peaked at No. 1 and has since sold more than 1 million copies since its release. Other standout tracks include the honky tonk "Good Time Charley's," the introspective Merle Haggard-penned "My Life's Been Grand" and the midtempo steel guitar-soaked "Living and Living Well."

Pure Country is the soundtrack to the 1992 film of the same name. In addition to making his acting debut in the film, Strait recorded the entire soundtrack. It's since become one of Strait's most commercially successful albums, with more than 6 million copies sold. Pure Country also marked the beginning of Strait's partnership with producer Tony Brown, who would go on to produce all of Strait's subsequent releases.

Back in 1981, a young, unknown artist by the name of George Strait released his debut album Strait Country. Strait's debut came during the midst of the "urban cowboy" country music movement, where the sound was pop-y and overproduced, aimed at making tracks appeal as crossover hits.

Strait introduced himself to the country scene with an unapologetic, honky tonk sound. Strait Country includes the two stepppin', bass heavy "Unwound" and the Tex-Mex hit "Blame It On Mexico," which could probably be a hit today for Kenny Chesney.

Blue Clear Sky earned Strait the 1996 CMA Award for Album of the Year. The album showcases Strait's range as a vocalist with songs like the Western-style "I Can Still Make Cheyenne," the fun country bopper "Do the Right Thing" and the classic song "King of the Mountain." In "Need I Say More" Strait sounds as if he's channeling Frank Sinatra. Sales for Blue Clear Sky have surpassed 3 million.