(recently published in Relix; direct link)
Gov’t Mule, “The Georgia Box” (Evil Teen/Hard Head)
Five years after signing on with the Allman Brothers in 1989, guitarist Warren Haynes and bassist Allen Woody joined drummer Matt Abts for an inspired side project. Like the Allmans, Gov’t Mule were rooted in Southern-fried blues and rock and roll. But the Mule was more raw, stripped down but able to roar, with hard-whomping rhythm attacks and Technicolor molten lava guitar explosions.
That sound, like an oncoming freight train, is in full effect on The Georgia Box six discs’ worth of classic material, recorded live and unfiltered in April 1996 in the Peach State. It feels like all highlights, all the time.
At the Georgia Theatre, the young Mule offers a particularly fierce pairing of signature cruncher “Mule” with Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love,” and, later, Lowell George’s “Spanish Moon,” with Derek Trucks, at 16, already playing slide guitar like a grown man.
They kick off their show at The Roxy with the rolling riffs of “Blind Man in the Dark,” another signature song, and hint at their jazz and fusion influences on “Trane” and “Thelonius Beck.” And at the Elizabeth Reed Music Hall, Haynes digs deep on a particularly soulful version of Blind Faith’s “Presence of the Lord.”