Live At Antone’s

It’s the beginning of a new decade, so like clockwork, it must be time for a new Joe Ely live album. Live Shots (1980) chronicled his tour with the Clash; Live At Liberty Lunch (1990) was a career snapshot that captured the power of his performances. Live At Antone’s, a collection of fifteen tracks recorded in January 1999, features a crack band, great sound, and a healthy dose of songs from his albums over the past few years. The trio of tunes from 1995’s Letter To Laredo are stunning, especially his take on Tom Russell’s “Gallo Del Cielo,” which slowly builds to a climax in seven minutes as Teye’s peppery flamenco guitar and Lloyd Maines’ steel guitar blur the lines between Spain and West Texas. Longtime Ely guitarist Jesse Taylor shines throughout, particularly on the chestnut “Road Hawg” and the newer “Workin’ For The Man” and “Up On The Ridge.” The surprising Tex-Mex rendition of Buddy Holly’s “Oh, Boy” ends the set, and Taylor and Joel Guzman (from Los Super Seven) engage in a guitar-accordion duel. The band is a veritable powerhouse, but it’s clear who’s the ringmaster, and he’s there to convince you that, yes, the world does need another Joe Ely live album.

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