The Biggest Surprises From the Texas 30 Ballots

Lots of Willie, not a lot of Hayes, Z-Ro, or Beyonce.
Lots of Willie, not a lot of Hayes, Z-Ro, or Beyonce.
Photo by Marco Torres

Perusing the final ballots for the Texas 30 with a few highlighters this past week was a blessed odyssey into the past three decades of all things Texas music. For as many no-brainers as there were, there were plenty of head-scratchin' exclusions.


The 30 Best Texas Albums (cover story)

Slideshow: The Texas 30 album covers

The albums a lot of folks may claim to be landmarks of the past 30 years didn't make the top 30. As I type this sentence, people are no doubt firing off screeds about Bedhead, "the right Roky album," Don Henley, and the Zeitgeist/The Reivers legend. I'm glad people are so passionate.

(Hell, none of my favorite George Strait, Hayes Carll and Black Angels albums made the final cut. And I could have slipped someone a few bucks to make that happen, I bet.)

Add to that the relatively small window that the 30 years between 1982 and 2012 offers and the stakes change. Out go all the seminal Willie Nelson, ZZ Top, Billy Joe Shaver, Rodney Crowell and Townes Van Zandt releases.

As Chris Gray put it in the introduction to his piece, "the sound of Texas music has moved on, to indie-rock, gangsta rap, bruising heavy metal, Tex-Mex punk rock, epic instrumental soundscapes, disturbing psychedelia and the stray classic-pop vocalist or two, singing in both English and Spanish."


The Texas 30: The Third Runners-Up, Albums 60-51

The Texas 30: The Second Runners-Up, Albums 50-41

Here are some of the biggest surprises I had from poring over this 15-page packet inches from my laptop.

The Dixie Chicks Made a Bigger Showing Than Expected Though Home was the only one to make the final 30 (No. 6), all the rest of their catalog got plenty of votes, including Taking the Long Way at No. 50. If the trio were to reconvene in 2013, it would no doubt be a touring and recording coup, though the ladies are on hiatus save for the odd benefit concert.

Rap Only Made a Dent By now you know that the Geto Boys (No. 10) and UGK (No. 8) were top 30 heavyweights. I would have expected more Texas rap myself, but DJ Screw, Paul Wall, Chamillionaire, and Z-Ro only made minor dents with voters.


The Biggest Surprises From the Texas 30 Ballots

The Toadies' Rubberneck Is a Modern-Rock Classic Yes! Even though it didn't crack the top 30, it got plenty of votes all around (No. 43). The 1994 rocker has held a tight grip on listeners lo these 18 years or so, thanks to modern-rock radio and constant touring.


Behold the Texas 30, Plus Albums 40-31

Spoon-Fed Four Spoon albums made the Top 60. No love for debut Telephono, though.

Where Went the Weirdos? The Big Boys (No. 44), The Judy's, Daniel Johnston and Sons of Hercules were on a few voters' minds, but none cracked the Top 30. Several albums in Johnston's discography got at least one vote, including Hi, How Are You? (No. 58).

The Indie Force Was Strong In This One Midlake, Explosions In the Sky (No. 17, No. 51), the Polyphonic Spree, St. Vincent (No. 32), ...Trail of Dead (No. 19), The Black Angels, The Paper Chase, Girl In a Coma, Okkervil River (No. 41), Sarah Jaffe (No. 57), Secret Machines, and even Neon Indian made appearances. No doubt they will be majestic forces in our Texas 50 List in 2032.

Where's The Metal, Man? Yes, Pantera's Vulgar Display of Power came in at No. 7, no small shakes, and The Sword scraped to No. 45. Yours truly stuck up for D.R.I. and deadhorse, and recently beleaguered Katy prog-metal trio King's X likewise only managed to slip onto one ballot.

What About The 713? A surprise Houston near-miss was Michael Haaga's The Plus and Minus Show (No. 47), and Hayes Carll's Trouble In Mind nearly cracked the Top 30 (No. 35). But Robert Ellis, The Fatal Flying Guilloteens and Buxton were absent. Maybe next time, and for what it's worth, Linus Pauling Quartet and Grandfather Child got mentions...

WTF Indeed Blue October's Approaching Normal and Foiled were nestled in there somewhere. Everybody got their something...

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