One day this summer, it must have been, a certain Mr. Craig Hlavaty brought a book he had found at a Houston-area thrift shop called (the) Genuine Texas Handbook into the office. This book is about everything you ever loved about Texas in the early '80s condensed into 200-something pages -- big hair, big oil, cattle ranching, beauty queens, Tex-Mex cuisine, "Lone Star Legends," Houston vs. Dallas, etc. Yum.
However, both our eyes couldn't help but be drawn to the part of the book, several pages in fact, devoted to Texas music. In just a few pages, it goes into the several different types of Texas country -- apparently the editors had a little trouble admitting there were other types of music in the state in 1981 -- as well as offering a detailed guide to Gilley's nightclub, a look inside the "cult of Willie," dance lessons, and a Texas Troubador "Hall of Fame." If you can find a copy, we highly recommend it. Maybe Craig will let you borrow his.
One other thing we found in there was a list of "The Required Record Collection," back when "record" meant the black plastic disc you played with a needle, and only that. (The first time.) In fact, we'll give you the Top 10 right here. It's alphabetical, though, so just know that No. 11 is George Jones' Golden Hits of George Jones. It's that kind of list.
- Buddy Holly, "anything Buddy Holly ever recorded, especially with the Crickets"
- Larry Gatlin, The Pilgrim
- Lefty Frizzell, Lefty Frizzell's Greatest Hits
- Kinky Friedman, Lasso From El Paso (that's not how we remember it, but never mind)
- Joe Ely, Musta Notta Gotta Lotta
- Dottsy, The Sweetest Thing
- Rodney Crowell, Ain't Living Long Like This
- Ry Cooder, Borderline
- Guy Clark, Texas Cookin'
- Asleep at the Wheel, Asleep at the Wheel
All these records are wonderful, but they all came out a long time ago, and they are all, shall we say, of a piece. As we were thinking and talking about it, slowly an idea dawned on us to update that list of essential Texas albums -- except to include pop, rock, rap, R&B, psychedelia and all the other crazy music this state has produced since Bill Clements was governor. Somehow, country still worked its way in there too.
So several weeks ago, the Houston Press asked about two dozen music writers at newspapers and magazines across the state to rank their 30 favorite Texas albums of the past 30 years, and send us their list. It took a while, but we have calculated the results and will announce the "Texas 30" in next week's cover story (which goes online 'round Wednesday noontime, as always).
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So watch out for it, starting with albums No. 60-51 on Monday. And lots more besides.