Monday, April 30, 2007

Classic Pick:-->Joe Ely - Love And Danger (1992)

"I only have a moment to explain,
Just a chance to let you know.
When its time for you to board the train,
There are two ways you can go."
Joe Ely

Alternative country has always been a bogus label given to certain types of music that doesn't exactly fit into the sorry cookie-cutter Nashville format.

And not surprising, it is college radio that generates a lot of airplay for this type of music. College radio has always been a voice against the powerful music moguls who spoon-feed its listeners the same tripe over and over again.

Such has been the fate of one, Joe Ely. Ely has been making music since the early 70’s and although Ely is little known to some, he has been asked to warm-up for acts as legendary as Bruce Springsteen and the Rolling Stones. Not too shabby.

In 1992, Ely released a gem with “Love and Danger”. The record received strong reviews but unfortunately, too little air play and very little company push, caused this release to soon find itself drifting extremely close to the proverbial discount bins. The record has since had a rejuvenation thanks to new fans who missed it the first time around.

And no wonder! "Love and Danger" is filled with great songs delivered in a slightly cocky, sometime vulnerable, style that oozes with coolness.

Opening with a drum-driven rocker, Ely throws out metaphors like fastballs. “He had hair…black as a fiberglass speedboat./The morning air…was crisp as a brand new bank note.” (“Sleepless in Love”).

In the funky “Needles and Pins”, Ely begs “You better call me/Or I’ll go crazy”. This song is a lot of fun and will have you singing its refrain long after you’ve put the CD away.

Perhaps the best tracks are the two story songs that appear midway through the record. Written by the great R.E.Keen...Joe Ely plays and delivers both Keen songs as if this was his last chance to get your attention...totally making them his own.

“The Road Goes On Forever”, a descriptive song about Sherry and Sonny...a couple of beautiful losers on the wrong side of the law with picture-perfect lines. Check out this visual. “Main street after midnight, a brand new pack of cigs/A fresh one hanging from her lips, a beer between her legs”.

And in the gentle melody, “Whenever Kindness Fails”, we are surprised to learn the song is about a killer who justifies his murders by explaining “I only use my gun whenever kindness fails”. The musical engine that carries this song along is a highlight on the album.

On “I Wanna Slow You Down”, an Ely classic, he connects with the achingly beautiful ode to the hard-working woman. “I wanna smear the moonlight in your skin/I wanna slow you down”.

And finally, on the tender closing track, “Every Night About This Time”, we are reminded that every broken heart needs someone.

From beginning to end, “Love and Danger” delivers. The studio recording is top-notch and the CD insert includes complete lyrics along with some nice photos. Always a nice touch.

This is a "MUST OWN" for everyone's musical crayon box...and the perfect introduction to this traveling gypsy from Texas.


Joe Ely-->"Whenever Kindness Fails" off "Love And Danger" (1992) (Own This CD)

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