Gov't Mule - 'Mulennium'

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Gov't Mule - 'Mulennium'

Three discs capture the original line-up of the blues trio.

For those not in the know, Gov't Mule sets, particularly on special occasions like New Years Eve, do tend to jam on late into the night. 'Mulennium' is no exception: three discs capture the original line-up of the blues trio of Warren Hayes, Allen Woody and Matt Abts welcoming the 21st Century at the Roxy Theater in Atlanta with a three-part three-plus-hour set that wrapped up at 3:43am. Numbers-wise it might just be half a beast, but these guys sure know how to party! The band tend to tape almost everything – check out their website and download the gig of your choice – but 31st December 1999 wasn't originally recorded for formal release. The previous year's show had been issued as 'Live… With A Little Help From Our Friends' and 2003's 'The Deepest End' covers a lot of the same ground, albeit with twelve guest bassists in the place of Woody who passed away in August 2000. But a decade down the line this show has been lovingly mixed from the original tapes as a tribute to the ex-Allman Brothers (and Peter Criss Band, amongst others) bassist.  

As might be expected from Hayes and Woody's Allman Brothers background Muleland (as its affectionately called) is a place of slow blues and long extravaganzas. It's not unusual for songs to take twists and turns before finally arriving at their destination. As such just six songs precede 'Countdown Jam' (the clue's in the title), a short piece of noodling which gives way to the countdown to the new millennium. A cracking version of '21st Century Schizoid Man' (how better to start 2000?), 'We're Not Gonna Take It' (the Who song, not the Twisted Sister singalong of the same name) and an exciting take on 'Dazed And Confused' round off both the first CD and the first part of the night's entertainment, giving the trio a well-earned rest before proceedings recommence.

Disc Two opens at 12:53 in the morning. For the band's second set of the night they were joined onstage by blues legend Little Milton with whom they'd recently been recording. With Milton handling the vocals the band romp through six songs including the Willie Dixon classic 'I Can't Quit You Baby' – which Haynes points out Milton recorded in 1968 (ie before Messrs Page, Plant Jones and Bonham made it their own) – and the wonderful 'Lump On Your Stump'. Exit Milton, enter Black Crowes (and ex-Cry Of Love – weren't they a great band too?) guitarist Audley Freed and another clutch of six songs including covers of 'Is It My Body?', 'Helter Skelter' and '30 Days In The Hole', as well as the Crowes' own 'Sometimes Salvation'.

The tail end of the third and final disc wraps up with the band's thirty-minute encore. With members of openers Blueground Undergrass also swelling the ranks of the band the enlarged Gov't Mule crown their performance with covers of 'Out Of The Rain', 'I Shall Be Released' and a blistering version of Lynyrd Skynyrd's 'Simple Man' before quitting the stage in the wee small hours. A great performance, and a fitting tribute to the memory of Allen Woody: gone but by no means forgotten.

John Tucker

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