20 albums recorded in San Antonio that every music fan should know 

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Let's be honest. When it comes to having a fully formed music industry, San Antonio isn't exactly Los Angeles, New York or Nashville. Hell, we're not Austin either.

That said, plenty of local, regional and national artists have recorded stellar albums in the Alamo City, whether in high-dollar studios, downtown hotel rooms or on stages in front of rabid local fans.

These 20 albums are essential listening for anyone who wants to understand the diversity, scope and lasting influence of San Antonio's music scene. From blues and Tejano to metal and hip-hop, this town is steeped in music history. 
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Selena: "Selena"
Eight of the 10 tracks on the late Tejano superstar's debut album were recorded at Manny Guerra's AMEN Studios in San Antonio. While it wasn't the late singer's best charting album, it opened the door for her to dominate the Tejano scene in a way no female singer had before.
Photo via EMI Latin
Dropkick Murphys: "11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory"
These purveyors of Celtic punk have long been associated with the city of Boston, but they actually recorded this 2017 album in San Antonio to get away from howetown distractions. In addition to the usual sing-along choruses and working-class wisecracks, the album is distinguished by the song “4-5-13,” which pays tribute to those lost in the Boston Marathon bombing.
Photo via Dropkick Murphys
Sunny and the Sunliners: "Talk to Me and 11 Other Great Songs"
In truth, we could have included any compilation of singles from this act that helped pioneer San Antonio's West Side soul sound. From the late '50s on, Sunny Ozuna and his band helped forge a Tex-Mex take on soul and R&B that continues to win new fans, even today.
Photo via Teardrop
Butthole Surfers: "Psychic... Powerless... Another Man's Sac"
The Butthole Surfers recorded this, their first full-length album, in SA prior to relocating north up Interstate 35. To many fans, this 1985 release is the purest, most powerful distillation of the cult band's acid-drenched chaos.
Photo via Touch & Go Records
Ozzy Osbourne: "Ozzy Live"
This 1981 recording was released as a double album on Record Store Day in 2012, capturing the former Sabbath frontman and late guitar ace Randy Rhoads in prime form. The recording first circulated as a bootleg, purportedly captured in Indianapolis, but Ozzthusiasts have since researched the recording date and confirmed that it actually happened right here in SA.
Photo via Epic
Hyperbubble: "Airbrushed Alibis"
San Antonio husband-wife duo Jeff and Jessica DeCuir cranked out a number of delightfully subversive synth-pop releases from the 2000s to the present, including this catchy and colorful 2007 album that may be their best.
Photo via Filthy Little Angels
Intocable: "Sueños"
The founders of this pioneering Tejano-Norteno fusion act may hail from the border town of Zapata, but the sextet recorded this polished breakthrough album right here in San Antonio. It's noteworthy for the band's attention to staying true to their roots while trying to broaden their appeal to a wider audience.
Photo via EMI Latin
Sons of Hercules: "Sons of Hercules"
The debut album of San Antonio's long-reigning garage punk kings was recorded in San Antonio and released in 1994. More releases followed, but this one pretty much set the tone for their timeless mix of energy and attitude.
Photo via Unclean Records
Robert Johnson: "King of the Delta Blues"
In 1936, legendary bluesman Robert Johnson recorded in Room 414 of San Antonio's Gunter Hotel, setting a new template for the genre and laying the foundation for rock 'n' roll. You simply cannot call yourself a blues fan unless you've heard these seminal recordings.
Photo via Not Now UK
Lyle Lovett: "Live in Texas"
Texas singer-songwriter Lyle Lovett drew critical raves for this 2006 live album recorded in San Antonio and Austin that showcases an energetic set by his Large Band and a strong sampling of his best-loved tunes.
Photo via Curb / MCA
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Buttercup: "Hot Love"
This quirky yet accessible San Antonio band recorded much of its sonic output in the Alamo City, but this classics-packed album is arguably its most memorable. Essential listening for fans of arty pop-rock.
Photo via Bedlamb Records
Budgie: "Life in San Antonio"
Even if they were a cult phenomenon pretty much everywhere else, proto-metal act Budgie were huge in San Antonio thanks to regular airplay on the old KISS-FM. That explains why the reunited band recorded this riff-ripping set at Sunken Garden Theater for a 2002 live album.
Photo via RCA
S.A. Slayer: "Prepare to Die"
Legendary guitar wranglers S.A. Slayer helped put San Antonio on the map as the "Heavy Metal Capital of the World" with this 1983 mini-album that's prized by record collectors with a taste for the hard stuff. The band added the "S.A." to its name after a cease-and-desist letter from Metal Blade Records on behalf of the California-based thrash metal act who went on to worldwide fame.
Photo via Rainforest Records
Ted Nugent: "Double Live Gonzo!"
Before the Nuge kept his career on life support by courting controversy with racist and COVID-denying mouthfarts, he was a shit-hot guitarist and quite an arena rock showman, as evidenced by this live recording, some of which was captured in the Alamo City. Best moment: Nugent screams "San Antonio! San Antonio! San Antonio!" and someone in the crowd hollers back "Suck my bone-i-o!"
Photo via Epic Records
Cadillac Muzik: "Lac GoSpel"
San Antonio hip-hop duo Cadillac Muzik made their debut in 2018 with this fun, funky long player that owed an obvious debt to Southern rap groundbreakers OutKast but with plenty of musical touches all their own.
Photo via Bona Fide Mindz
The Children: "Rebirth"
The sole album by 1960s San Antonio psych band The Children was recorded after it made an unsuccessful attempt to relocate to California. "Rebirth" is a varied affair that vacillates between dark moodiness and occasional jumps into genres including country and jazz. It's a wild ride, much like the tail end of the decade in which it was recorded.
Photo via ATCO Records
Big Drag: "Big Drag"
This mid-'90s release by a San Antonio trio that jumped from being Taco Land mainstays into a regional phenom captures everything that made it a crowd favorite: a dance-ready backbeat. fuzz-drenched guitars, laconic vocals and hooks that just won't quit.
Photo via Only Boy
George Coleman: "Bongo Joe"
San Antonio street musician George "Bongo Joe" Coleman was known for his use of a makeshift percussion kit made out of salvaged oil drums. He recorded his sole album in the Alamo City in 1968 and it remains a classic of inspired outsider art.
Photo via Arhoolie Records
Various Artists: "Cottage Cheese From the Lips of Death: A Texas Hardcore Compilation"
Recorded as a round-robin affair at Bob O'Neil Sound Studios on Broadway, this compilation album documents the sonic ferocity that embodied Texas' punk scene circa 1983. With tracks by DRI, the Marching Plague, the Dicks, the Butthole Surfers, the Mydolls and more, this out-of-print album includes a veritable Who's Who of that singularly creative era.
Photo via Ward 9 Records
Elvis Presley: "Close Up"
Even the King of Rock 'n' Roll knew San Antonio crowds were special. The final CD in this four-disk box set of Elvis rarities documents a 23-song concert recorded in 1972 in front of Alamo City fans, who are clearly going nuts.
Photo via RCA/BMG Heritage
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Selena: "Selena"
Eight of the 10 tracks on the late Tejano superstar's debut album were recorded at Manny Guerra's AMEN Studios in San Antonio. While it wasn't the late singer's best charting album, it opened the door for her to dominate the Tejano scene in a way no female singer had before.
Photo via EMI Latin

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