No, just, no (Or, WHY GOD WHY?!?!?!): An Album Review – George Strait’s Live Final Concert, “The Cowboy Rides Away”

I have never been as disappointed in an album as I am the live recording of George Strait’s final tour concert, “The Cowboy Rides Away.” Not because it’s a bad album, but because it should have been so much more. George Strait is the greatest recording artist I have ever heard, BAR F*ING NONE. The concert was amazing and both he and his fans deserve so much better than this travesty. I can’t believe I’m writing a bad album review for GEORGE FRIGGING STRAIT.

One word: G*D DAMNED AUTOTUNE. Okay, that’s two words. But listen, I’m in the process of becoming an ordained minister. I am not taking the Lord’s name in vain here – I’m simply literally asking the divine to DAMN THE MONSTROSITY THAT IS OVERUSED AUTOTUNE AND THE SIN THAT IS CALLING IT MUSIC. ENOUGH ALREADY.

Don’t get me wrong. From the clips I’ve watched, George Strait’s farewell concert was exactly what it needed to be, and we all know the legendary career. There is none greater in the history of country music and if you think Hank or Cash can beat it then just shut up because I’m a Texan and what I’m doing right now is called hero worship. I wish to high heaven I could have been in Dallas in June. But this God-awful album is chalk-full of autotune, and nothing else can shine through. You can hear it on most tracks, but especially on George’s voice on “The Cowboy Rides Away” and “I Can Still Make Cheyenne,” as well as Alan Jackson’s on “Murder On Music Row.” It even dominates the gorram fiddle on “Fool Hearted Memory.”

I can see how autotune would help the voices carry across a crowded arena of 104,000 screaming fans and I wish I’d been one of them – but recorded?

No, just, no.

There’s a reason Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line did not perform at the King’s last show. At least Jason Aldean pretended to be the old Jason, not the new Jason. This was a farewell salute to REAL country music. So what the hell was autotune doing so prominently on the album, even if it was necessary at the show? You can say it’s fine music, and you might not be wrong, but that don’t make it country.

This is not George Strait’s first foray into autotone. There were those couple lines in 2001’s “Stars on the Water“. But, that was one track on one album – I can’t blame anyone for experimentation. A mark of a true professional is trying, failing, recognizing it as failing, and moving on. And that’s what George Strait did, for 13 years – so I can only blame MCA for this bullshit.

King George’s next studio album – as he’s only retired from touring, not recording, and is already back at work in the studio – can’t come soon enough to wipe this bloodstain from our ears. In the meantime, just stick with 2003’s “For the Last Time: Live from the Astrodome“.

Two whiskey bottles out of five. The songs and singers are of course four or five bottles because it’s GEORGE STRAIT, but frick this should have been done better. This was clearly a fast turnaround by major-label execs who saw big dollar signs and wanted to make a quick buck – it has nothing to do with respecting fans paying homage to the best musical career in four decades. Money over music, everything Strait’s (admittedly poorly acted) movie strained against. No, just, no.

Ah, hell. At least it included the Martina McBride duet on the old Cash favorite, “Jackson.” That was a lot of fun when I saw the show in Philadelphia, so, that’s something.

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