Strait Country (1st LP)
Not everyone was wearing Vuarnet Cat Eye sunglasses and playing Devo records in 1981. George Strait was listening to Bakersfield honky-tonk and vintage western swing, as evidenced by his debut long player, which has aged better than California wine. At a time when urban cowboy was turning into glossy countrypolitan a-la Kenny & Dolly, Strait was forging the new traditional sound. While "Blame It on Mexico" flirted with Jimmy Buffett-inspired lite rock, heel stompers like "Honky Tonk Downstairs" mapped out the big-hatted blueprint that helped invent people like Garth Brooks and Alan Jackson.