Strong Persuader is the fifth studio album by American blues singer and guitarist Robert Cray. It was recorded by Cray at the Los Angeles studios Sage & Sound and Haywood's with producers Bruce Bromberg and Dennis Walker, before being released on November 17, 1986, by Mercury Records and Hightone Records.Strong Persuader became his mainstream breakthrough and by 1995 it had sold over two million copies. The record was later ranked #42 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 greatest albums of the 80's.
Strong Persuader received rave reviews from contemporary critics. In a review for Rolling Stone, Jon Pareles said Cray delivered intriguing stories about sex and infidelity with disciplined singing, songwriting, and "a version of blues and soul that doesn't come from any one region, building an idiom for songs that tell with conversational directness the stories of ordinary folks".Robert Christgau from The Village Voice praised Cray's sophisticated blues aesthetic and the songwriting of his supporting studio team, hailing Strong Persuader as "the best blues record in many, many years, so fervently crafted that it may even get what it deserves and become the first album to break out of the genre's sales ghetto since B.B. King was a hot item."
At the end of 1986, Strong Persuader was voted the third best album of the year in the Pazz & Jop, an annual poll of American critics published by The Village Voice. Christgau, the poll's supervisor, ranked it fourth on his own year-end list. In a retrospective review, AllMusic critic Bill Dahl said "it was [Cray's] innovative expansion of the genre itself that makes this album a genuine 1980s classic."