When a successful band of fine musicians is struck by the compulsion to revisit the muses of their youth by recording blues covers, it can go horribly wrong. Fortunately, Gov’t Mule’s first blues album is a mix of originals and covers that shows the band paying tribute while adding their own sauce and avoiding the “copycat” label.
Gems like Junior Wells’ “Snatch It Back and Hold It” and Howlin’ Wolf’s “I Asked For Water (She Gave Me Gasoline)” receive the Gov’t Mule Southern-rock/jam-band treatment. Warren Haynes’ playing is visceral, funky, and deep, and the band grooves relentlessly with superior organ work on “I Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody’s Home,” originally recorded by Ann Peebles. Though this ditty saw performances prior to this recording, Haynes allows his Albert King spirit animal to emerge, and the juxtaposition is inspired.
Throughout the album, we’re reminded that Haynes is an underrated, A-game guitarist who, for decades, has been impressing legends face-to-face. Original cuts like “Heavy Load” and “Black Horizon” display Haynes’ bottleneck chops and the seasoned purity of his unfettered vocal style. The man can play.
This article originally appeared in VG’s February 2022 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.