Renowned West Texas troubadour Joe Ely will have his seminal first three albums made available again in new physical and digital editions on February 17. The long out-of-print Joe Ely (1977), Honky Tonk Masquerade (1978), and Down on the Drag (1979) will all make their return to vinyl for the first time since 1980, newly pressed on 180 gram discs. They’ll also be on digital platforms and will be available for the first time in 192/24 HD audio.
The albums capture the excitement generated by the bold and rebellious songwriter and his unique combination of honky-tonk, Tex Mex, rockabilly, and rock’n’roll. Each has been meticulously remastered from the original analog tapes by the Grammy-winning engineer Dave Donnelly.
“It was exciting for me to make these first three albums in the beginning,” says Ely. “Now I’m really glad MCA and UMe chose to remaster and rerelease these albums this year and they’ll once again be available on vinyl.”
Now with a catalog comprising more than 20 albums, Ely continues with his solo work as well as touring and recording with the Flatlanders. Their latest album, Treasure of Love, was released in 2021, while Ely also won a Grammy for his work with Los Super Seven, who also feature members of Los Lobos, Ozomatli, and Calexico. Ely is also an accomplished author with two novels to his name.
He won a Lifetime Achievement Award for Live Performance from the Americana Music Association and was inducted into the Texas Heritage Songwriter Associations Hall of Fame in 2016. That year, Ely was also named the Official Musician for the State of Texas, an honor previously bestowed upon Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, and Billy Gibbons. In 2017, he became the first musician to be honored by the prestigious Texas Institute of Letters.
Coinciding with the album reissues, Ely will close the 48th season of Austin City Limits when a Hall of Fame tribute to him is broadcast on February 25 on PBS stations. The evet was recorded live at ACL’s 8th Annual Hall of Fame honors on October 27 last year and features performances from Ely alongside revered Lone Star musicians and his longtime collaborators in the Flatlanders, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock, as well as fellow Texans Rodney Crowell and Marcia Ball. The hour-long special also has a memorable induction by the celebrated Texan author Lawrence Wright, and highlights from Ely’s 11 appearances on the ACL stage.
Pre-order Joe Ely, Honky Tonk Masquerade and Down On The Drag, which are reissued on February 17.