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Author: Subject: Another Review of High and Mighty

Zen Peach





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  posted on 8/23/2006 at 12:02 PM

Gov't Mule: High & Mighty
By: David Schultz

For many years now, Warren Haynes has deservedly earned the title of "The Hardest Working Man In Rock 'N' Roll." One of the world's more ubiquitous guitarists, Haynes has recently been aligned with The Allman Brothers Band, The Dead, Phil Lesh & Friends in addition to fronting his own band, Gov't Mule. In fact, given his other affiliations and frequent guest appearances with other artists, it's altogether too easy to write off Gov't Mule as Warren Haynes' side project. While Haynes' other groups have garnered him a bit more mainstream attention, Gov't Mule, a power trio formed with his then Allman Brothers brother Allen Woody and drummer Matt Abts, has always been his first love; he and Woody leaving the seminal southern rock band in 1997 to devote their full energies to The Mule.

Once a weighty blues power trio, the band restructured after Woody's untimely death in 2000. Adding keyboardist Danny Louis and bassist Andy Hess, Mule sallied forth, becoming a stalwart touring attraction. On High & Mighty, Gov't Mule has finally hit their stride as a foursome; offering their strongest studio effort yet. Without succumbing to any dreary, plodding extremes, Mule resurrects their signature hard-driving southern blues, adding a few new rhythms and expanding upon their customary style. Haynes' encyclopedic knowledge of nearly all forms of 20th century music manifests itself the razor sharp guitar riffs found throughout High & Mighty. While Abts and Hess provide their typically powerful rhythm, it's Louis' surgically precise organ riffs, creating a gospel-like counterpoint, that flushes out Mule’s heavy blues giving them a fuller, more polished sound.

A portion of High & Mighty expertly treads familiar ground, the stellar weighty blues that listeners expect from any Gov't Mule project. On "Brand New Angel" and "Streamline Woman," featuring Haynes' laying greasy licks over Abts and Hess' relentless beat, they mine gold. Unfortunately, the same doesn't hold true on "Like Flies," which stews blandly in its own juices. The album soars to exciting heights when Mule bravely goes outside their typical comfort zone: on "Unring The Bell," they skillfully and subtly intertwine a reggae beat and guitar effects into a bluesy melody; on "3 String George" a wonderfully funky bonus track, they go old school, channeling Booker T & The MGs.

Anyone familiar with Haynes' 2004 release Live At Bonnaroo knows that Haynes excels at burning smoldering blues, his voice a perfect blend of world weary resignation and fiery righteous passion. When High & Mighty goes this route, it truly matches its title; "So Weak, So Strong" and "Child Of The Earth" achieving the same passion and beauty as Haynes' underrated classic "Soulshine." Mule finishes High & Mighty by bringing their slow simmer to a boil; their yearning blues fitting Mule much better than their attempts at boogie shuffles. "Million Miles From Yesterday" with its gospel choir, "Brighter Days" and "Endless Parade" hit the same soulful high marks as early era Black Crowes, closing the album with restrained yet powerful beauty.

In recording High & Mighty, Mule opened the door to the studio, inviting their fans to drop by their web site and glimpse their creative process at work. The openness of the process spread to the music, infusing it with a rewarding intimacy. A modern southern rock masterpiece, High & Mighty marks an extraordinary leap forward for the band. In challenging the limits of their perceived boundaries, Mule has possibly created the classic rock album of the year.

Gov't Mule will celebrate High & Mighty’s release with a Monday evening appearance (August 21) at New York City's Virgin Megastore in Union Square. The band will be present to sign copies of the album, which goes on sale at 11:00 p.m., and then perform live for all in attendance. On August 28, they'll repeat the effort at the Virgin Megastore in Chicago, IL.

 

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  posted on 8/23/2006 at 12:04 PM
Is anyone's death TIMELY???

Just wonderin

 

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  posted on 8/23/2006 at 12:11 PM
Well, I was hoping to say some good about Mules new release. But a %$&^
thunderstorm rolled through on the second song and the power went out...

Those first two were pretty amazing................

Will pick up tonight where the thunderstorm left off.


Got my t shirt on though

[Edited on 8/23/2006 by rottinpeach]

 

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  posted on 8/23/2006 at 01:06 PM
I had a little bone to pick with his comment about Like Flies:

"On "Brand New Angel" and "Streamline Woman," featuring Haynes' laying greasy licks over Abts and Hess' relentless beat, they mine gold. Unfortunately, the same doesn't hold true on "Like Flies," which stews blandly in its own juices."

I disagree: Like Flies slithers and snakes around in the dirty, icky muck. The bass line and the drum work are subtle, sneaky compliments to the lyrics. In a way, Like Flies is Gov't Mule's Mother Earth. Otherwise you hit the nail on the head about High and Mighty.

http://www.earvolution.com/2006/08/govt-mule-high-mighty.asp



[Edited on 11/18/2007 by Angelemerald]

 

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  posted on 8/23/2006 at 01:10 PM
Gov't Mule
High & Mighty
(ATO)

First Appeared in The Music Box, August 2006, Volume 13, #8

Written by John Metzger

If Déjà Voodoo sent a message that Gov’t Mule wasn’t about to fall apart after the death of founding bass player Allen Woody, then High & Mighty boldly declares that it is still a force with which to be reckoned. Throughout the set, guitarist Warren Haynes, drummer Matt Abts, keyboard player Danny Louis, and Woody’s replacement Andy Hess continue to inject a jam band aesthetic into their ’70s hard rock and heavy metal influences, but truth be told, Gov’t Mule hasn’t sounded this energized and confident since its self-titled debut. There’s an unrelenting fury to the manner in which Abts and Hess provide the songs with their dense, unstoppable undercurrents, and Louis adds splashes of color whenever they are most needed. Naturally, Haynes uses his quicksilver guitar accompaniments to slice through the sonic sludge, but instead of coming across like a dated showcase for his pyrotechnic displays, the ensemble finally feels as if it is performing like a fully cohesive unit.

As always, Gov’t Mule is utterly unapologetic in its appropriations from the past, and right from the start, it tosses bits of Deep Purple, Mountain, and Foreigner into the crisp and crunchy, AC/DC-derived blues of Mr. High & Mighty. That the outing comes at a time when the sounds of New Wave once again are popular only enhances the feeling that the endeavor is, in effect, the group’s Back in Black. Elsewhere, the ensemble dabbles in political discourse via the buzzing mechanical bite of Like Flies and the loose, elastic, reggae vibrations of Unring the Bell; it thrashes Streamline Woman with all the tenacity of Led Zeppelin; and it appropriately draws from the Allman Brothers Band for Brand New Angel, though it funnels the tune through a heavier chugging groove that is reminiscent of The Edgar Winter Group. In fact, the only place in which High & Mighty falters is during its obligatory power ballads (So Weak, So Strong; Nothing Again).

After losing a key member, its rare that a band is given a second chance. Yet, Gov’t Mule has succeeded in doing the impossible by becoming as good, if not better, than its original incarnation. For all the star-powered extravaganzas that were formulated after Allen Woody’s death, Gov’t Mule’s resurgence on High & Mighty serves as the finest tribute to him that Haynes and Abts could ever hope to concoct. ***½

http://www.musicbox-online.com/reviews-2006/govtmule-highandmighty.html
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Gov't Mule
High & Mighty
(ATO)
US release date: 22 August 2006
UK release date: 28 August 2006
by Ryan Gillespie

Gov’t Mule bears the jam band tag, which, for most people, is a turn off. But to define Gov’t Mule as a jam band is both short-sighted and inaccurate. Gov’t Mule started off as filling in the gap, literally, between Son House (their self-titled debut opened with House’s “Grinnin’ in Your Face") and Duane Allman (Haynes plays slide and lead in most incarnations of what is somehow still called the “Allman Bros.") and, more figuratively, the gap between Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd. They garnered fans as diverse as Edwin McCain and James Hetfield (and yes, that is as diverse as you can get, a recent study has shown). The jam band thing is survival for the Mule, because hard rock doesn’t sell anymore and music lesson teachers don’t buy enough music to sustain careers.

The band’s first two studio albums, Gov’t Mule and Dose, were a resurrection of power-trios and brilliant musicianship that was about as exciting as anything in modern guitar for one particular reason: Gov’t Mule’s music and styling had nothing to do with the ‘80s. Here was a band with three incredible musicians (guitarist Warren Haynes, bassist Allen Woody,and drummer Matt Abts) who also wrote some pop-structured songs (i.e., the virtuoso’s inkling to just excuses to solo or the blues guitar hero approach of 12 bar/12 bar/ballad/12 bar/ballad, etc.), a band that could jam without being a jam band (did anyone ever refer to Band of Gypsies as a jam band?) and experiment musically without falling into the Spinal Tap “jazz odyssey” joke (see disc two of Live…With a Little Help From Our Friends, works for me at least). The energy and excitement of the 1995-1999 period was indelible.

Of course, the passing of bassist Allen Woody in 2000 had to mark a transition for the band. The all-star bass lineups of the Deep End sessions (Bootsy Collins, Mike Watt, John Entwistle, Stefan Lessard, Jack Bruce, Flea, etc.) were both a joy to hear (in a celebratory and tribute-sense) and indicative of the influence and respect of Gov’t Mule in the music community.

But now, Gov’t Mule have become a bit flat. The songs haven’t gotten any better as far as song structures—I don’t think Stuart Murdoch or Rilo Kiley are nervous—and Haynes and Abts have no room for improvement as musicians anyway (you can’t get better, really). So, we end up with something like High & Mighty.

Opening with “Mr. High & Mighty” (somehow a different song than 1995’s “Mr. Big"), a rockin’ tune, sure, and Danny Louis’ keys are welcome (as they are throughout the album), but the song is indicative of the entire album. Its riff-rock, ‘70s riff rock, actually (I think their appropriation of Muddy Waters’ “Streamline Woman” is a Physical Graffiti outtake), but I don’t mean that as an insult. It sounds good to hear the Mule settled, strong. But this is just such straightforward album: some high points, some lows, and mostly mids.

“Like Flies” is a low point. With clichéd and precious lyrics like “art has no place in the world of supersize” and “they would not know the difference between Vin Diesel and Van Gogh”, set to a dark riff, heavy drums, and distorted vocals. “Brand New Angel” is the album’s standout track, even with Abts’ middle-ground hipsterdom cowbell. The song has great intensity, a smart structure, restraint in all the right places, and flash where flash is acceptable.

Overall, Gov’t Mule fans will not be disappointed. There are some strong tracks here that will play great live, and the musicianship is still top notch—in fact, Haynes pulls out some of his best album work in a while: the jazz arps, slides, wah’s, three-note-per strings, all as tasty as ever. But High & Mighty is fans-only material.

RATING: 5 — 21 August 2006
http://www.popmatters.com/pm/music/reviews/govt-mule-high-mighty/




 

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  posted on 8/23/2006 at 02:04 PM
quote:
Is anyone's death TIMELY???

Just wonderin


Methusaleh. Hitler.

Doug

 

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  posted on 8/23/2006 at 02:04 PM
I have to agree exactly with last review, unfortunatly....... disapppointed and the lyrics are outright silly in places...... music is very flat to my ear also......

 

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  posted on 8/23/2006 at 02:17 PM
My buddy emailed me this morning (he's a very big Mule fan) and he said he was pretty disappointed in the album after the first time through and it would probably take several more listens before it grows on him...

I haven't heard it yet...ordered it from Amazon and it hasn't come. Maybe tonight...

 

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  posted on 8/23/2006 at 02:26 PM
quote:


On High & Mighty, Gov't Mule has finally hit their stride as a foursome; offering their strongest studio effort yet.




Biggest overstatement I've seen in a long time. By a long shot if the author is considering their first 3 albums.

 
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  posted on 8/23/2006 at 02:28 PM
quote:
quote:


On High & Mighty, Gov't Mule has finally hit their stride as a foursome; offering their strongest studio effort yet.




Biggest overstatement I've seen in a long time. By a long shot if the author is considering their first 3 albums.


I'm guessing he was comparing it to Deja Voodoo..."hitting their stride as a foursome"

 

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  posted on 8/23/2006 at 02:29 PM
quote:
My buddy emailed me this morning (he's a very big Mule fan) and he said he was pretty disappointed in the album after the first time through and it would probably take several more listens before it grows on him...


Funny, I had that reaction with Deja Voodoo, and am having the exact opposite with this one. This album reminds me more of Life Before Insanity which I think may be their finest work...well maybe Dose is my favorite....haven't made up my mind yet.

This one grabbed me right off the bat, although I've only made it through the first 4 songs so far. I will listen to the rest tonight.

 

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  posted on 8/23/2006 at 02:30 PM
quote:
quote:
quote:


On High & Mighty, Gov't Mule has finally hit their stride as a foursome; offering their strongest studio effort yet.




Biggest overstatement I've seen in a long time. By a long shot if the author is considering their first 3 albums.


I'm guessing he was comparing it to Deja Voodoo..."hitting their stride as a foursome"




Yeah I saw that. So "their strongest studio effort yet" means one CD out of two. Kind of an odd statement then. Essentially he's saying this one is better than the other one.

[Edited on 8/23/2006 by Lee]

 
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  posted on 8/23/2006 at 02:31 PM
Now that I've heard the album four or five times, I admit my grade for it has come down a little. A lot of the best tracks are in the first half, I think, so the second half hangs there somewhat. There are slow spots on every Mule album - that happens when you make such dark, heavy music, and their albums are usually long. High and Mighty beats Deja Voodoo hands down, to me, but it doesn't quite sustain the energy of the first half of the album.

Two nitpicks. I'd be curious to hear people's thoughts about this:
*They blurred out the word "shit" in Like Flies. Doesn't that kinda contradict the message of the track?
*How can Three String George be a bonus track? It was always listed on the album, it wasn't a secret or anything. I just don't get that.

 

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  posted on 8/23/2006 at 02:31 PM
Hopefully, no thunderstorms knocking the power here tonight. Its looking like it did
yesterday. I only got through 2 songs. Funny the above post indicated the first listen through the cd......I told my girlfriend that I probably wont like it at first, but after a few times around I will love it.....

The ABB releases, post Brothers and Sisters, unbelievable to her, had the same effect on me. I kind of smiled the first time played.......about the 4th and beyond times played I was out of my seat.....just a dancin
Pre Brothers and Sisters releases first plays were out of sight.

[Edited on 8/23/2006 by rottinpeach]

 

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  posted on 8/23/2006 at 02:32 PM
quote:
quote:
quote:
quote:


On High & Mighty, Gov't Mule has finally hit their stride as a foursome; offering their strongest studio effort yet.




Biggest overstatement I've seen in a long time. By a long shot if the author is considering their first 3 albums.


I'm guessing he was comparing it to Deja Voodoo..."hitting their stride as a foursome"




Yeah I saw that. So "their strongest studio effort yet" means one CD out of two. Kind of an odd statement then. Essentially he's saying this one is better than the other one.

[Edited on 8/23/2006 by Lee]


Well, that's true...very odd statement, as I can't believe this beats the first two studio albums....but since I haven't heard it yet, I won't go and say that...heh

 

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  posted on 8/23/2006 at 02:36 PM
quote:
quote:
quote:
quote:
quote:


On High & Mighty, Gov't Mule has finally hit their stride as a foursome; offering their strongest studio effort yet.




Biggest overstatement I've seen in a long time. By a long shot if the author is considering their first 3 albums.


I'm guessing he was comparing it to Deja Voodoo..."hitting their stride as a foursome"




Yeah I saw that. So "their strongest studio effort yet" means one CD out of two. Kind of an odd statement then. Essentially he's saying this one is better than the other one.

[Edited on 8/23/2006 by Lee]


Well, that's true...very odd statement, as I can't believe this beats the first two studio albums....but since I haven't heard it yet, I won't go and say that...heh




First time thru last night I didn't like it much. I listened to it three or four times and I do like it overall though I forward past a few songs. The song order has a strange flow to it. But it is definitely better than Deja VooDoo, which I didn't like at all. There's only two songs on that one I like. Frankly, I think everything they did with the original three is head and shoulders better than anything they've released since. That said, I've got some live shows post-Woody that are awesome! But that's due more to the covers than any of the newer Mule stuff.

 
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  posted on 8/23/2006 at 02:37 PM
Speaking of weird statements, I never thought I would live to see the day that someone called Soulshine "underrated."

 

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  posted on 8/23/2006 at 02:39 PM
quote:
Speaking of weird statements, I never thought I would live to see the day that someone called Soulshine "underrated."




That was a typo Marley. He meant "overplayed".

 
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  posted on 8/23/2006 at 02:40 PM
quote:
First time thru last night I didn't like it much. I listened to it three or four times and I do like it overall though I forward past a few songs. The song order has a strange flow to it. But it is definitely better than Deja VooDoo, which I didn't like at all. There's only two songs on that one I like. Frankly, I think everything they did with the original three is head and shoulders better than anything they've released since. That said, I've got some live shows post-Woody that are awesome! But that's due more to the covers than any of the newer Mule stuff.


Yeah, I totally agree.

It took me several listens before Deja Voodoo even started to grow on me and then it was just a few songs...

Not too much could top the first two albums, imho....

 

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  posted on 8/23/2006 at 02:40 PM
I don't feel a need to rank albums.... I got High & Mighty and love it. "3 String George" is one of my fav mule tracks already.

 

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  posted on 8/23/2006 at 02:44 PM
quote:
They blurred out the word "shit" in Like Flies. Doesn't that kinda contradict the message of the track?


I haven't gotten to that yet, but when you say blurred, is it fully taken out or just sort of inaudable? Have you listened to the version of Don't Step on the Grass from Hempilation? They sort of do that with the line where they say You're so full of **** , although I think the original lyrics are ful of bull, so perhaps that isn't a good example.

 

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  posted on 8/23/2006 at 03:50 PM
quote:
Streamline Woman with all the tenacity of Led Zeppelin;


This reviewer "gets" it. The Guitar riff says Zepp right off the bat. And Matt is channeling Bonzo.

I'm diggin the new stuff

 

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  posted on 8/23/2006 at 05:20 PM
quote:
quote:
Streamline Woman with all the tenacity of Led Zeppelin;


This reviewer "gets" it. The Guitar riff says Zepp right off the bat. And Matt is channeling Bonzo.

I'm diggin the new stuff


Me too!

 

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  posted on 8/23/2006 at 05:23 PM
quote:


Two nitpicks. I'd be curious to hear people's thoughts about this:
*They blurred out the word "shit" in Like Flies. Doesn't that kinda contradict the message of the track?
*How can Three String George be a bonus track? It was always listed on the album, it wasn't a secret or anything. I just don't get that.


I thought it was a flaw in the cd first time I heard it. I hate when they censor stuff!

Maybe the bonus track came with the pre-sale cds? Does anybody know?

 

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  posted on 8/23/2006 at 06:13 PM
So far this CD hasn't done a thing for me. Mayby I'll get it tomorrow.

 

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