This is a foolproof British compilation of Joe Ely, within the parameters of its selection criteria, which is to say that compiler/annotator Sid Griffin has chosen between one and three tracks each from Ely's eight studio albums recorded for labels controlled by Universal Music (SouthCoast and MCA) during his two stints with the major, 1977-1984 and 1992-1998. In between, Ely recorded two albums for the independent HighTone Records label, Lord of the Highway and Dig All Night, and nothing from them is included. If Griffin had expanded his purview to include Ely's live albums, he could have included such strong songs as "Me and Billy the Kid" and "Are You Listenin' Lucky?," which appeared on MCA's Live at Liberty Lunch after debuting as studio recordings on Lord of the Highway. Griffin also could have gotten some strong (arguably, stronger) performances of some of these same songs from Ely's earlier concert recording, 1980's Live Shots. So, this album really should have been subtitled "The Best of Joe Ely's Universal Studio Recordings" to be precisely accurate. But it's still very good, with all the compositions except Robert Earl Keen's "The Road Goes On Forever" written by Ely's compatriots Butch Hancock ("She Never Spoke Spanish to Me," "Boxcars," etc.) or Jimmie Dale Gilmore ("Dallas," "Treat Me Like a Saturday Night"), when they weren't written by Ely himself ("Fingernails," "Musta Notta Gotta Lotta," "Cool Rockin' Loretta," and ten others) And it could have been even better.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann