It could easily be argued that George Strait never made a bad album and they were all hits, but even among that remarkably consistent catalog, 1989's Beyond the Blue Neon stands apart from the pack, with half of its ten tracks reaching the country charts. Three of these topped the charts – "Baby's Gotten Good at Goodbye," "What's Going on in Your World," and "Ace in the Hole" – with "Overnight Success" peaking at eight and "Hollywood Squares," a novelty so sly and understated that it never cracks a smile, scraping the bottom reaches of the charts. An easy nature is one of Strait's signatures – he never makes anything look difficult – and he's never made music that seems as easy as this. That casual virtuosity can disguise just how virtuosic this album is. Strait hits the same touchstones as always – Western swing, barroom ballads, honky tonk shuffles, laments, and two-steps – but what's missing is that slight coat of gloss that always distinguished his singles on the albums after he turned into a superstar.
Italian drummer Marcelli is a natural swinger with a light touch-and an accomplished composer to boot. He's aided on Beyond the Blue by a stellar outfit that includes guitarist Mike Stern, bassist Eddie Gomez, pianist Mitchel Forman and tenor saxophonist Bob Mintzer. The opening "Between Poles" is a perfect vehicle for Stern to wail in the kind of understated, swinging fashion that he revealed on his 1992 gem Standards (And Other Songs). Mintzer also adds a particularly muscular tenor solo here.
Henry Rodgers is after Margie's stage line. He has her in trouble by having her gold shipments robbed thereby driving her insurance premiums to an unaffordable level. Eddie and Soapy arrive to help out. Eddie suspects Rodgers but when he breaks into his office, Rodgers apparently kills him. With Eddie out of the way, Rodgers makes the robbery that will put her out of business.