George Strait's 1995 collection Strait out of the Box offered a then-definitive 4-CD compilation of country music's most successful artist, and remains one of the top-selling box sets of all time. Strait was just hitting his stride, however, with just over half of his record 60 No. 1 singles released. The second half of his (still ongoing) recording career thus demanded a sequel, sold exclusively through Wal-Mart, but also feels almost inevitably incomplete. The new 3-CD, 56-song grouping spans the past 20 years of artist-selected hits and prime cuts, from 1996's Blue Clear Sky to last year's Cold Beer Conversation. Two new songs add incentive, especially the biting Jamey Johnson co-write "Kicked Outta Country," but little else adds value beyond the consolidation. The packaging is disappointingly sparse, with only single-fold sheets of liner credits and no booklet as with the original box. Combined, the two sets make a hefty and fitting corpus, but Strait deserves the deluxe treatment such an astonishing career demands. Until then, Part 2 feels like a stopgap, necessary but still wanting.
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