A guitar more stubborn than a mule
The brimming exhibition of Blind Man in the Dark leaves one breathless. And that's just for starters. When we talk about Warren Haynes and his “mule”, it's just guitar, bass and drums; rock. Pure rock. A four-legged wilful, tireless beast. He has returned to proven ground to burn a bigger-than-life recording. It was around 1994, it was going to be the first album of the new makeover of the group Cream, a band called Gov't Mule, but never got out of rehearsal because it was too “outlandish” for the big boys at the record company.
In the mid 90s Haynes and Allen Woody became supremely bored with the Allman Brothers when they threw in the towel. They called their mate Matt Abts of the Dickey Betts Band to be the drummer and got right at sizzling any stage they set foot on. Word got out and it became a priority to get Gov't Mule in the studio. It was the month of June 1994, at Tel-star studios in Bradenton, Florida.
It was still just a project along the lines of their other “official” bands, with a skimpy budget that only allowed them to record the one take; raw, live, with no frills. A perfect setting to take the reins on improvisation in only a handful of magical sessions. They also felt completely at home with covers of ZZ Top, Free, and Willie Dixon, which unfortunately were trimmed during mixing to the tastes of the producers.
The songs in the end are brought back to life to the delight of all and to the glory of blues-rock. Allen Woody, sadly, passed away in 2000, silencing one of the best bassists of his musical genre. The king of the 4-chord approach that was beautifully remastered befitting his rich pulsating sound. Comparable only to Jack Bruce. On the song “Just Got Paid” by Billy Gibbons he will make you weep. [replaced now by Jorgen Carlsson]
What's left is the great Matt Abts and of course Haynes, with his impressive collection of Gibsons...Lester, Moe, Hubert...Les Paul, Firebird, ES-355/35... California born 56 years ago, he is one of “the 100” top guitarists that goes to work every day, gig to gig, compiling -not without difficulties- more records live than in studio.
Warren Haynes blends the “southern” feeling with skilful technique that avoids the electronic tricks by twisting those chords to the max in search for that sound within, not something prefabricated. Since the relaunch of the band in 2013 they've almost been limited to looking through the archives- as in the Pink Floyd covers-, which is welcome. But now it's time to get back in the studio. The legend is still to be written.