This Is the Cornerstone of Any Joe Ely Collection
Steve Vrana | Aurora, NE | 12/31/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Any progressive country collection that doesn't include this album and at least one of the other four albums Ely cut for MCA from 1978-1982 has a serious gap in it.Ely has absorbed the influences of fellow Texans like Buddy Holly and Waylon Jennings and gone on to produce some of the best honky tonk, Tex-Mex, rockabilly music of his generation.This, his second album, includes songs written by former Flatlanders bandmates Jimmie Dale Gilmore ("Tonight I Think I'm Gonna Go Downtown") and Butch Hancock ("Boxcars" and "West Texas Waltz"). But While Ely would on almost all of his albums rely on these two songwriting pals for great songs, Ely's songwriting is equally strong. He begins the album howling at that big, yellow "Cornbread Moon," and later cries in his beer at that "Honky Tonk Masquerade" and eventually brings down the house with the greatest song Jerry Lee Lewis never wrote, "Fingernails."Ely's signature sound is provided by bandmates Lloyd Maines on pedal steel and Ponty Bone on Accordian.At only ten songs and 34 minutes, this album may seem skimpy, but this is the kind of music you wish you could hear in your favorite smoke-filled honky tonk as you put back a few cold longnecks. HIGHLY Recommended."
The definitive country rock album
Peter Durward Harris | Leicester England | 04/25/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Joe Ely was (and still is) a hugely talented singer and musician who always did things his way. In the late seventies, he recorded three classic country-rock albums. His debut album was untitled, while his third was Down on the drag. In between came this one, which was the best of the lot. Joe's music did not fit easily into any radio station's play list, being too country for rock and too rock for country, but he did visit the UK a few times during the late seventies and acquired a cult following, although it seems that the main interest lies in those first three albums and, to a lesser extent, the fourth album, Musta notta gotta lotta.Joe Ely wrote many of his own songs but also recorded some fine covers. Often these covers were of songs by fellow country-rockers Butch Hancock and Jimmie Dale Gilmore, both of whom have reciprocated by covering Joe's songs. Thus, this album is made up five songs by Joe, three by Butch, one by Jimmie and just one other song, the Hank Williams classic Honky tonkin', which is ideally suited to Joe's style.The musicians are Joe Ely (acoustic guitar), Lloyd Maines (steel guitar), Steve Keeton (drums), Gregg Wright (bass), Ponty Bone (accordion and piano), Jess Taylor (electric and acoustic guitar), Chip Young (electric and acoustic guitar), Shane Keister (Moog and acoustic piano) and Farrell Morris (percussion). There aren't many singers who would use such a selection of instruments, but that's what makes Joe's music so distinctive.Cornbread moon is a great up-tempo song to open the set. Because of the wind is a beautiful ballad. Boxcars is a bluesy train song. Jericho (your walls must come tumbling down) is a great upbeat song with biblical metaphors. Tonight I'm gonna go downtown is a wistful ballad. Honky tonk masquerade is a great cheating song. I'll be your fool is a wonderful ballad. Fingernails is a great song about playing the piano. The brilliant blues-rocker and pianist, Marcia Ball, later covered Fingernails for her album, Blue house. West Texas waltz always, a lightweight, fun song, reminds me of Lucille, the Kenny Rogers classic, because of some similarities in parts of the melodies. Play them back-to-back and you'll understand what I mean. Honky tonkin' rounds off the album brilliantly.If you only buy one Joe Ely album - indeed, if you only buy one country-rock album - make it this one. Note that this album has also been released as half of a twofer, the other half being his excellent untitled debut album."
Steve Vrana | Aurora, NE | 07/08/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In 1978--the year after his stunning self-titled debut--Joe Ely released the best album of his career, HONKY TONK MASQUERADE. Except for a raucus version of Hank Williams' classic "Honky Tonkin'," all of the songs on this album (like his debut) were either written by Ely or fellow Lubbock, Texas songwriters Butch Hancock and Jimmie Dale Gilmore. Ely's own tunes run the gamut from honky tonk ("Cornbread Moon"), lonesome ballads ("Because of the Wind"), to barrelhouse rock 'n' roll ("Fingernails"). Each song is a classic--even Hancock's two-steppin' "West Texas Waltz" will keep things lively on the dance floor. In addition to the terrific songs, Ely's crack band (especially Ponty Bone on accordion and Lloyd Maines on pedal steel) makes this a memorable listening experience. It's been almost thirty years, but this album has lost none of its power. If you don't own anything by Joe Ely, this is the place to start. [Running Time - 33:57] ESSENTIAL"