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Gov’t Mule

Shout !


Provogue Records / Mascot

When you meet Warren Haynes he’s very modest though confident. Music just bursts out of the man. One of our merry band of scribes saw him play London’s Under The Bridge with Gov’t Mule recently and reports that the show was incendiary. At a soundcheck in London a few years back he let us attend, the band played three songs not in that night’s show….including ‘The Green Manalishi’, which Peter Green once told me he found scary to write and scary it sounded as played by The Mule, believe me.  Haynes is a ‘Why not..’ guy and has had the idea here to make an album and then get other artists to appear on the same set of songs for Disc 2. I can’t recall anyone else doing exactly that before and Warren says he gets excited hearing contemporaries interpret the GM numbers in their own way. Now here’s a guy who is incessantly creative, as the Allmans and Dead will attest.

Disc 1 kicks off with ‘World Boss’ which chatters along with great elan with guitars buzzing and a fine Haynes vocal and evokes the gritty funk drive of the wonderful Kings X, catchy chorus, key changes and all and warren not afraid to throw in jazzy steps whilst soloing frenetically in Disraeli Gears tones against the pumping bass of Jorgen Carlsson  ;   ‘No Reward’ is a confident buzzy bluesrock grind ;
whilst ‘Whisper In Your Soul’ is a reverb and Leslie-toned intonation, clattery drums courtesy Matty Abts, a dark quasi-psych mood is conjured up on this, insistent bridge giving way to wahwah figures and subtle keyboards from Danny Louis.  One for the Spooky Tooth afficianado’s, methinks. ‘Captured’ is laid-back and another excellent vocal from Haynes in a vein close to Steve Stills on the Supersessions cuts way back when.  The guitar solo is languid and set against Hammond and clipped guitar chords, so well handled. ‘Scared To Live’ has a wound-up pulse edging into a reggae skank and dub drumming, a fine summer sound though not a striking song in itself. The dark lope of ‘Stoop So Low’ sounds sinister, wah sighs et al and Haynes swamp-funk side to the fore. I did spot the hint of Stevie Wonder in the bass riff, Warren ! So many of these blues-rock cats look up to Stevie.
Fans of Haynes’ slide work will go for the stone funk of ‘Done Got Wise’ ;   now, is that The Ghost of Bobby Bland haunting the intense ‘When the World Gets Small’ ? though the vocal phrasing calls to mind Airplane master singer Marty Balin, to be frank. Could be the best song here and plenty of space with a beautiful organ part breathing through the number. The guitar hums into life @ 3:25 hanging in the air like a kite watching its prey and you don’t want it to end..you know, like ‘Summer Breeze’…..

Disc 1 ends with an evocative patter of a song as Warren tells a tale of loss.. and Lord don’t we all feel that lately ? So many of our brothers and sisters in music taking the exit. ‘Bring On the Music’ has an emphatic reflective atmosphere. Yet again his voice sounds so good and the other of his voices of course coming out of the six strings, here legato and restrained until a fuzzy heaviness kicks in @ 4:40 sounding a tad like Cactus, still an overlooked premier bluesrock outfit. imho

On Disc 2 thereafter the guest singers include Ben Harper, Glenn Hughes, the amazing Grace Potter, Jim James, reggae alumnus Toots Hibbert, Dr John, ever-busy Dave Matthews, Alter Bridge singer Myles Kennedy ( sometimes to be found trying to lift live sets by the uninspiring Slash…change yer tone sometimes, you poltroon !) , Ty Taylor, Steve Winwood and Ty Taylor. Best I mostly let you discover the guest gems for yourselves, I think. Costello suits the fast punch of ‘Funny Little Tragedy’, for sure. And ‘Captured’ drifts towards the Youngster’s  ‘Down By The River’ with Jim James singing, strangely. Grace Potter sighs sexuality into her turn and ‘No Reward’ is annexed by Glenn Hughes such is his roaring power..this is the Hughesy we know and love…..

Original, challenging and ever tuneful, Gov’t Mule are fearless and fun..what more could you want ?

Pete Sargeant

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