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Happy Songs from Rattlesnake Gulch

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iTunes Review

Joe Ely has released some brilliant albums over the past 30 years, both as a solo artist and as part of the Flatlanders with fellow Texans Butch Hancock and Jimmie Dale Gilmore. Happy Songs from Rattlesnake Gulch is classic Ely — sharp, character-focused songwriting, vivid stories, and great hooks that blend country, blues, and Texas twang, as in the tough honky tonk swagger of “Sue Me Sue,” the accordion-driven “Little Blossom,” and the terrific “Up a Tree,” with its crisp mariachi horns. But whether these are “happy songs” is open to interpretation. To the gamblers, hustlers, and “hard luck saints” that populate Rattlesnake Gulch, happy is a relative term, and Ely is skilled at bringing desperate characters, and their predicaments, alive. The 10 songs written by Ely are consistently good, particularly “So You Wanna Be Rich,” which features a soulful horn section, “Baby Needs A New Pair of Shoes,” a tribute to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and the slow burning “July Blues.” There’s also an R&B-styled cover of Butch Hancock’s “Firewater” that fits in perfectly with the rest of the material. Ely’s singing is ragged and rich, and powerhouse band behind him provides plenty of punch in all the right places. Overall, a solid slice of American roots music.

Customer Reviews


Joe is still writing great songs and rockin out the house,awesome cd

Solid Joe Ely work

Yeah, Joe is not scared to experiment. And by the nature of that, you will love some of that experimentation, and dread some of it, too. IMHO he has really delivered with this album, you can tell he totally feels at home with the rockin' side of him that is presented here. Maybe it's back to (part of) his roots? Well if it is, it is done in great style! A good one, certainly deserves a place among my Ely favorites. Congratulations, Joe & crew!

Still Rockin'

Been listening to Joe for 20 years and it only gets better. West Texas is a hard inspiration, but Joe gets it done. Thanks for another good 'en.


Born: February 9, 1947 in Amarillo, TX

Genre: Country

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Country-rock singer/songwriter/guitarist Joe Ely was born Earle R. Ely on February 9, 1947, in Amarillo, Texas. His family had worked for the Rock Island Line railroad dating back to the start of the century. When he was 12, the family moved to Lubbock, Texas, where his father ran a used clothing store. Inspired by seeing Jerry Lee Lewis perform when he was a child, Ely aspired to a musical career, and he briefly took violin and steel guitar lessons before turning to the guitar. His father died when...
Full Bio