Okay, here's what George Strait has done: Without scandal or undue hype, without compromising quality or any capitulation to fashion, Strait has adhered to his name. The veteran superstar, who releases his first career live CD For the Last Time Live at the Astrodome on February 11, has managed to stay in front and on top of the ever-treacherous country-music machinery since 1981, turning out album after album of clean, smart honky-tonk and Western swing music. The wheels turn, the gears grind, and the streets are strewn with the stinking offal of hundreds, make that thousands, of clamoring, climbing, clawing country pop star would-bes who never listened to anyone prior to Garth Brooks, who know more about marketing than music. Then there's Strait, who has smiled his trademark grin and strolled unhurriedly through the goalposts, time after time after time, racking up 50 No. 1 hits more than any other artist in any other genre. And here's the best part: None of it sucks! Put that in your plastic cowboy hat and stroke it.
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