Joe Ely (from the album The Lubbock Tapes: Full Circle available on Rack ‘Em Records)
The names and stories remain the same when Joe Ely unpacks a suitcase full of songs from his pre-release days. The Lubbock Tapes: Full Circle returns Joe to the early 1970’s and two recording sessions. After leaving The Flatlanders in 1972, Joe Ely was looking for a band, joining Lloyd Maines (guitar), Greg Wright (bass), and Steve Keeton (drums) together as The Joe Ely Band. The road-tested honky tonkers entered the studio in 1974, tracking tunes that would become Joe’s self-titled debut in 1977. The recordings are joined by a second batch of tracks gathered when the Joe Ely Band entered the studio in 1978 to begin demos for this third release, Down on the Drag. The core band has additional members for the 1978 recordings with Jesse Taylor (guitar) and Ponty Bone (accordion).
The songs collected on The Lubbock Tapes: Full Circle give a back story to the brand of roadhouse country rock’n’roll that Joe Ely has taken as his own beginning with his 1977 debut. The guitar riffs on “Fools Fall in Love” lead the way for the band to follow into the future as Blues puts slashed chords over the country beat of “I Keep Gettin’ Paid the Same” as honky tonk stage lights pick out the house band backing “Standin’ at a Big Hotel”. The sound of The Lubbock Tapes: Full Circle shows how the music of Joe Ely was changing while presenting a historical backdrop for the Austin music scene in the 1970’s as it moved into a hard-edged hybrid of Country, Rock’n’Roll, Tex Mex, and Blues. A simple acoustic guitar strum kickstarts “Road Hawg” as a Texas travelogue namechecks landscape in “Down on the Drag”, Country picks out notes for “If You Were a Bluebird”, dark desert winds toss love around in “Gamblers Bride”, and a rock’n’country groove puts an optimistic strut into the dreams of “I Had My Hopes Up High”.
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