George Strait And 30 Hits

Posted: March 16, 1992

Modern country music doesn't come better than George Strait, the grand old traditionalist who performed at the Valley Forge Music Fair Saturday.

There's a reason the '80s is referred to as "The Strait Decade." With three greatest-hits collections under his massive silver belt-buckle, Strait, 35, is the most consistent hitmaker since Conway Twitty and Buck Owens.

Strait, with an eight-piece band as sharp as a well-honed bowie knife, barnstormed through faithful renditions of 30 blue-chip hits with an effortless and unmannered croon. He pulled no surprises out of his trademark Stetson, but he did show there's a lot of highway to be explored down the ''middle of the road."

Strait's well-paced set of foot-stomping Western swing and sophisticated ballads was peppered with classic country: Merle Haggard's rarely heard ''Shores of South Mexico," Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues," and Hank Williams' "Lovesick Blues" complete with full-throated Texas yodel.

Strait let his band get loose. Guitarist Rick McRae threaded jazzy, crackling lines that whirled through the fabric of twin fiddles and simmering pedal steel. The band, with dazzling virtuosity and a knack for interplay second-to-none in any popular music idiom, wove strikingly rich tapestries of sound during "All My Ex's Live in Texas" and Strait's new "As Gone as a Girl Can Get."

Collin Raye opened the show with a jukebox-perfect set. Eager, fresh and optimistic, Raye - backed by a five-piece band - was assured and polished enough to warrant his status as a rising star.

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