Warren Haynes’ Gov’t Mule exemplified the US jam band phenomenon rife in the mid- 90s and proved so popular that the guitarist left The Allman Brothers two years after this 1995 debut to concentrate on it full-time.
The attraction of improvising jam bands has always been best experienced live, which makes this first helping of Mule more of an appetiser than a main course. Prior to the addition of keyboards, the line-up was the most basic of power trios, so it was asking a lot to sustain interest over 70 minutes of late 60s-style blues riffing. Track 10, an unremarkable cover of Free’s Mr Big, shows they had a way to go to rival that legendary band’s mix of brute force and finesse. Son House’s Grinnin’ In Your Face, delivered as an a cappella opener, and Memphis Slim’s Mother Earth are the other covers on board but, of the self-penned numbers, only Mule and Rocking Horse (later covered by the Allmans) became staples.
That said, this was a solid debut, recorded live in the studio, which proved the foundation for a career that continues today. At mid-price, it will undoubtedly appeal to air guitarists of a certain age.