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GOV'T MULE By A Thread Provogue (2009)

Gov't Mule

Warren Haynes (The Dead, Allman Brothers Band) and his band Gov't Mule are surely one of the most overlooked bands on the planet and certainly here in the UK. Surely all that is about to change with the release of this absolute monster of an album.

By A Thread is the eighth studio album from the band and is an amazing amalgam of styles - rock blues '60s psychedelia reggae jazz with an Americana twist anyone? This potpourri in lesser hands would be a mish-mash, in the hands of Gov't Mule it becomes a glorious celebration of American rock music at its very best, all underpinned by Haynes' razor sharp vocals and blistering guitar.

The pounding bass of the opening track 'Broke Down On The Brazos' signals intent from the off, with Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top) roped in for a riffathon contest with Haynes, that, for most bands, would be a highlight, here it's just the start of the fun.

'Steppin' Lightly' follows with its reggae undercurrents and 'Railroad Boy' - rock/blues at its very finest and very reminiscent of Free at their rocking best.

There are eleven tracks on offer and it's almost impossible to find the album's weak point, but 'Frozen Fear' is a so-so ballad that doesn't quite cut it. No matter, move on two tracks and up comes 'Inside Outside Woman Blues No.3', surely one of the finest tracks of the year - a monstrous slow blues with some of the most incendiary wah-wah guitar playing this reviewer has ever heard. It's one of those tracks that's so good I just couldn't help laughing at the end!

All in all, this is an absolute gem of an album with too many highpoints to mention. The musicianship throughout is of the highest standard - check out Matt Abts' drumming on 'Monday Mourning Meltdown', new bassist Jorgen Carlsson's thudding bass on the opening track and Danny Louis' Hammond playing on 'Gordon James' -but it's Haynes' guitar pyrotechnics that glue it all together, and, trust me, it's a very strong fix.

I would struggle to recall a better release this year and, if there's any justice in the world, this should fly off the shelves. There isn't and it won't, but unless something pretty sensational comes along very soon, this gets my vote for Album Of The Year.


Review by Alan Jones

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***** 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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