Gov't Mule - 'Gov't Mule'

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Gov't Mule - 'Gov't Mule'

Re-issue of Gov't Mole's debut album.

Back in 1994 guitarist/vocalist Warren Haynes and bassist Allen Woody, both at the time performing in The Allman Brothers Band, hooked up with drummer Matt Abts, who they had previously worked with in The Dickey Betts Band, for an impromptu jam session. The session took on a life of its own and an idea emerged to form a band for when The Allmans were inactive, and Gov’t Mule were born.

The self-titled debut album appeared in 1995 to critical acclaim. Taking their influence from their stints in The Allmans, the material was born out of studio improvisations, and assembled within ‘tight-but-loose’ frameworks that gave each musician equal opportunity to shine, but without any self-indulgence. Gritty Southern Rock blended with Blues jams, while also incorporating elements of Jazz and Funk, formed the basis of the material, with Haynes powerful yet gravelly Blues holler and wonderfully tonal guitar playing at the forefront. All bases are covered, from the a cappella opener ‘Grinnin’ In Your Face’ which segues into the brooding ‘Mother Earth’ (originally by Memphis Slim), through the Southern-tinged ‘Rocking Horse’, the processed vocal of ‘Monkey Hill’, the Slow Blues of ‘Temporary Saint’, the instrumental Jazz workout ‘Trane’ (influenced by Jazz legend John Coltrane), the funky ‘Mule’, the delicate acoustic refrains of ‘Dolphineus’ that leads into the powerfully atmospheric ‘Painted Silver Light’, the awesome cover of Free’s ‘Mr.Big’, the searing ‘Left Coast Groovies’ that incorporates all of the band’s influences, to the sprawling epic ‘World Of Difference.’

In 1997 Haynes and Woody left The Allmans to concentrate on Gov’t Mule full time, and sophomore album ‘Dose’ arrived a year later. 2000 saw the release of ‘Life Before Insanity’, which finally gave the band commercial success, though sadly Woody Allen was found dead later that year. A revolving door of special guest bassists would feature as a tribute to Allen during various studio and concert appearances, before ex Black Crowes bassist Andy Hess was named as his full-time successor. He would later be replaced by Jorgen Carlsson as Gov’t Mule soldiered on, and their most recent album, 2009s ‘By A Thread’, is regarded as their finest yet.

This re-issue of the debut has no bonus tracks or extra features apart from the liner-notes, and to be honest, any existing Mule fans will already have this album in their collection. But if you’re interested to hear what you’ve been missing, then there really is no better place to start.

Ant Heeks

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