By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
If nothing else, a list like this one should serve as a primer and nothing more. In the words of one local musician who perused this list, "I've got some listening to do." Not a bad idea.
1) Blind Lemon Jefferson, Blind Lemon Jefferson (Milestone, 1961; reissued 1974 and 1992). Just try arguing.
2) Look What Thoughts Will Do: The Essential, 1950-1963, Lefty Frizzell (Sony/Legacy, 1997). "If You've Got the Money (I've Got the Time)" was co-written by Frizzell and studio owner Jim Beck, who suffocated on cleaning fluid not long after Frizzell made it big.
3 and 4) The Complete Imperial Recordings, Aaron "T-Bone" Walker (EMI America, 1991); and Complete Capitol/Black & White Recordings (Capitol Records, 1995). The Imperial recordings capture the man at his very best, but the Capitol collection is necessary because it includes "Stormy Monday Blues," which is No. 23 on the all-time best-song list.
5) It's Just a Matter of Time, Bobby Patterson (Paula Records, 1972). How do you spell essential? B-O-B-B-Y.
6) Monkey Beat, Ronnie Dawson (Crystal Clear, 1994). Tempting to include his older stuff ("Action Packed," "Rockin' Bones"), but none of it will ever top "Up Jumped the Devil." Dawson was 55 when he recorded this, 16 when it was released.
7) The Full-Custom Gospel Sounds of the Reverend Horton Heat, Reverend Horton Heat (Sub Pop Records, 1993). When Jim Heath wonders why people knock the new stuff, this is why. It's called tough love, man.
8) WhatFunLifeWas, Bedhead (Trance Syndicate, 1993). If you don't get it, stop breathing.
9) Hide Away: The Best of Freddy King, Freddie King (Rhino Records, 1993). Second-best guitarist ever from here. And probably the first too.
10) Texas Music Vol. 3: Garage Bands & Psychedelia, various artists (Rhino Records, 1994). Contains singles by Scott McKay ("Train Kept A-Rollin'," which does not feature Jimmy Page), The Chessmen ("I Need You There"), Mouse and the Traps ("A Public Execution"), The Nightcaps ("Thunderbird"), Kenny and the Kasuals ("Journey to Tyme"), and Sam the Sham & The Pharoahs ("Ju Ju Hand"). Still, the whole thing's useless without the Floyd Dakil Combo's "Dance, Franny, Dance." There's a good-lookin' girl down Dallas way...
11) The Light Crust Doughboys 1936-39, The Lightcrust Doughboys (Texas Rose, 1982). You wouldn't be asking why if you'd just listen to "Pussy, Pussy, Pussy."
12) Capitol Collectors Series, Ella Mae Morse (Capitol Records, 1992). Moved up several notches on the list for dying last week. Now, the "Cow Cow Boogie" girl is immortal.
13) A Garland of Red, Red Garland (Prestige, 1956). Good enough for Miles Davis and John Coltrane, good enough for us.
14) Silk Degrees, Boz Scaggs (Columbia Records, 1976). "Lido Shuffle" and "Lowdown." That's why.
15) No One Can Do It Better, The D.O.C. (Ruthless Records, 1989). Turns out, he was right.
16) Legendary Buster Smith, Buster Smith (Atlantic, 1959). The man taught Charlie Parker how to play. He wasn't bad either.
17) The Sky Is Crying, Stevie Ray Vaughan (Epic Records, 1991). Ironic how the best record was the posthumous one. Ironic how the posthumous ones just keep on coming.
18) The Mack, Willie Hutch (Motown, 1973). Sad to say, but it took the Chemical Brothers to remind us how brilliant this record was. We mean is.
19) Musical Varieties, Brave Combo (Rounder Records, 1987). That's why they call it a best-of.
20) Bloodrock 2, Bloodrock (Capitol Records, 1970). Everyone wants to know: "Is that the one with 'D.O.A.'?" Of course it is.
21) Wine, Wine, Wine, The Nightcaps (Vandan, 1960). Without these Jesuit grads, there's no Fabulous Thunderbirds, no SRV (well...), and no federal lawsuit against ZZ Top.
22) A Double Dose of Soul, James Clay (Riverside Records, 1960). Underrated in life, forgotten in death. Not this time.
23) We Want Everything, Nervebreakers (Existential Vacuum Records, 1994). What they got was a record released 14 years after it was made. Better late than never.
24) Baduizm, Erykah Badu (Universal Records, 1997). For the first time in a long time, a hit single we could get behind.
25) Howling Wolf Blues: The Story of Talent & Star Talent Records, various artists (Collectables Records, 1993). Run out of a little Ross Avenue record store long since vanished, this label debuted the likes of Professor Longhair, Rufus Thomas, and Frankie Lee Simms.
26) Wooly Bully, Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs (MGM, 1965). Filler without the title song, but what a title song.
27) Magnetic South, Mike Nesmith and the First National Band (RCA, 1970). Could have been Gram Parsons. Instead, he was a Monkee. No wonder he's bitter.
28) Mr. Action Packed, Johnny Dollar (Dragon Street Records, 1998). Could have been Ronnie Dawson. Instead, he was Johnny Dollar.
29) Sailor, Steve Miller Band (Capitol Records, 1968). "Livin' in the U.S.A." That's why. That, and T-Bone Walker taught him how to play, and he never forgot it -- well, until "Abracadabra."
30) The Sounds of Deep Ellum, various artists (Island Records, 1987). Seemed important at the time.
31) Rubberneck, Toadies (Interscope Records, 1994). Again -- five years ago?
32) Equal Scary People, Sara Hickman (Four Dots, 1988). She never forgave us for saying this was her best record. Maybe she never understood what we meant to say: This would be any singer-songwriter's best record.
33) Trini Lopez at PJ's, Trini Lopez (Reprise Records, 1963). One guy, one acoustic guitar -- and a train somewhere behind him, barreling down fast.
34) Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight, Sid King & The Five Strings (Bear Family, 1991). The man cuts hair in Richardson now. Forty years ago, he might have cut your neck.