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Joe Ely

Live Chicago 1987 (Rack 'Em)

Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., March 13, 2009

Texas Platters

Joe Ely

Live Chicago 1987 (Rack 'Em)

Live Shots (1980), Live at Liberty Lunch (1990), Live @ Antone's (2000), Live Cactus! (2008) – Joe Ely's heart beats onstage. Live Chicago 1987 isn't about to break the Austin firebrand's mean streak, either. Precursor to the Lunch gig three years later, Chicago bustles with Ely's second classic lineup (David Grissom, Davis McLarty, Jimmy Pettit) and throws in Stones sideman and fellow Lubbock wildcat Bobby "Brown Sugar" Keyes on saxophone for added licks. On Ely's epic "Letter to L.A.," Keyes blows from "Waiting on a Friend" to "You Can't Always Get What You Want," with Grissom cranking like both Keith and Ronnie. No wonder Springsteen always guests the bandleader onstage whenever he's in Texas; Ely drives a hard bargain. Butch Hancock's swaggering "Lord of the Highway" never sounded so ramrod, after which the 55-minute set floors it. Live @ Antone's closer "Oh Boy!," Buddy Holly's monument to true-hearted flatlanders, here lives and breathes Joe Ely.

***.5

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