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WARREN HAYNES ‘Live At Bonnaroo’
ATO ATO018(2004)

Before he picked up a guitar, Warren Haynes would sit in his room, singing Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett. He readily admits that Levi Stubbs of The Four Tops still is one of his favourite voices of all time. And despite his chosen musical idiom, Warren Haynes has turned into one of the premier soul singers of our time.

However, the lure of rock and roll guitar, led Haynes into a local band called Ricochet, then onto four years with rebel country singer David Allan Coe, and it was while with Coe tha he first met Dickey Betts and Gregg Allman. Later on when Betts' was working on his solo album, 'Pattern Disruptive', he called on Haynes. Thus when the The Allman Brothers reformed for their 1989 tour, Haynes got pulled in to the never-ending soap opera that is the ABB.

Thanks, in no small measure to his songwriting, singing and playing, the public and the critics gave Haynes a lot of credit for putting the fire back in The Allman Brothers Band collective belly. He also found time to release his first solo album, 'Tales of Ordinary Madness'. However, solo work was put on the back burner when he dropped out of the ABB to pursue Gov't Mule on a full-time basis. So it’s been a long time since an album appeared with just his name on it, although last years saw 'The Lone EP' appearing as an advance taster.

For someone renowned for their electric prowess, it’s odd to think of him sitting in front of 80,000 people without a band raging behind him, but that’s the step he decided to take last year on the main stage at the Bonnaroo festival. This album is the result.

Now, how you view this, will depend on your liking for acoustic blues and soul, for this is the sound of a man getting back to his roots. Eschewing the easy route of coering well known songs from his day jobs, he goes for some unusual choices. Songs by The Eagles ('Wasted Time'), U2 ('One'), Radiohead ('Lucky'), and the Grateful Dead ('Stella Blue') all make an appearance, as do some Mule numbers - 'Falling Down,' The Real Thing,' and 'Beautifully Broken'. Taken apart, these songs take on a new life, and are stripped down, brutally and honestly.

By the time the sole outside intervention arrives in the shape of a guest vocal spot from Vusi Mahlasela on the classic 'Soulshine', you feel priveliged to have spent 75 minutes in the company of a master.


Review by Stuart A.Hamilton

Buy this CD

***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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