|Gov't Mule - The Deepest End|
|Music Disc Reviews Audio CD|
|Written by Dan MacIntosh|
|Tuesday, 07 October 2003|
If you’d like to record an album with some of your favorite musician friends – especially those of the bass playing variety -- it’s probably easier to go where your friends are, instead of trying to fly them all in for one extended recording session. This is probably why jam band Gov’t Mule recorded this live album at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, which is a place where some of their favorite likeminded peers just happened to be at the time. And since their high-profile friends include jazz, funk and blues players (just to name but a few styles), this disc also brings out many of the various colors in Gov’t Mule’s musical rainbow.
But no matter who happens to be sitting in with this unit at any given time, guitarist/vocalist Warren Haynes is always the central focus of whatever Gov’t Mule does. He’s a naturally soulful singer, who brings to mind the glory days of Southern rock whenever he lets loose on songs like “Bad Little Doggie.” He’s probably better known for his guitar work, however, since he was a touring member of the Allman Brothers and trading licks with Dickey Betts before his side project of Gov’t Mule ever became his full-time gig.
If you’re expecting this epic-length release (two-hour-plus CDs and one three-hour DVD) to be the equivalent to variations on Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird” classic, you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised by the variety found within. For instance, “Sco-Mule,” which features Victor Wooten (of The Flecktones) on bass and Bernie Worrell at the organ, brings out many lovely Carlos Santana-isms in Haynes’ playing. And the traditional gospel-blues of “John The Revelator” is taken at a slow and thoughtful pace with the help of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Additionally, “Beautifully Broken” incorporates sections of Prince’s “When Doves Cry,” and adds a further exclamation point to Gov’t Mule’s undeniable eclecticism.
If you’re a low-end guy/gal, then the many guest bass players that participated in this project will fascinate you to no end. These four-stringers included Les Claypool (Primus), Will Lee (The Late Show Band) and Roger Glover (Deep Purple). Bela Fleck’s banjo is also well represented, and guitarists David Hidalgo (Los Lobos) and Sonny Landreth additionally leave their distinctive marks.
This release gives the lasting impression of being Gov’t Mule’s own microcosmic New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, since it draws from so many widely varying musical influences. And with its seemingly endless list of guest musicians, Gov’t Mule has certainly covered all its bassists -- so to speak -- by showcasing all these stars of the deepest end throughout this concert. This is an album that exemplifies countless definitions for the word “depth.”