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Joe Ely

Silver City (Rack 'Em)

Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., May 25, 2007

Texas Platters

Joe Ely

Silver City (Rack 'Em)

There's a youthful, grinning Joe Ely on the cover of Silver City. The disc doesn't contain old recordings, though, only old songs. The now-60-year-old Austin firebrand wrote them in the late Sixties/early Seventies but recently revisited them at his home studio with just guitars, harmonica, percussion, and occasional accordion from Joel Guzman. The elder singing the words and melodies of his youth imbues the songs with a stark, gruff authority that a younger musician would be hard-pressed to muster. Some might be familiar: "Silver City" was on 1987's Lord of the Highway; "Indian Cowboy" was covered by Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark; "Wounded Knee," with drastically altered lyrics, became "Row of Dominoes"; and "Drivin' 'Cross Russia" evolved into "Me and Billy the Kid." The ghost of Woody Guthrie smiles over the panoramic Americana visions that Ely creates here.

***.5

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