WHEN B.B. KING SPOKE OF TAKING IT
“way down in the alley” he wasn’t referencing
bowling. Nevertheless, when Gov’t Mule
decided to throw a party to herald the release
of By a Thread [Evil Teen Records] they chose
Brooklyn Bowl as the setting. Perhaps it was
because the club sports a full concert stage
and sound system, in addition to its 16 lanes
of bowling (the lanes are shut down when
the music starts). Before the live performance,
Warren Haynes talked with GP about
getting musically back in the alley with Billy
Gibbons to record the CD’s opening cut,
“Broke Down on the Brazos.”
“I told him we had a track that sounded
like early ZZ Top and would like him to play
on it,” related Haynes. “We sat head to head
and traded licks for about 30 minutes and
that was it.” Gibbons played through a Marshall
clone, while the Muleskinner used a
Fender Pro Junior.
The crowd bowled and boozed for two hours
as the new record looped loudly in the house.
Nevertheless, the roar of the live band made
the recorded version sound like a whisper.
Haynes played various axes—including
his Warren Haynes model Gibson Les Paul,
a white SG, and a Custom Shop Les Paul 12-
string—through Diaz, Soldano, and Paul
Reed Smith amplifier heads, plus a full-sized
Leslie cabinet. Haynes simulated the “Brazos”
trade-off by switching from the bridge
pickup of his Paul for the patented Reverend
Willie G. squeals to the neck pickup for his
own signature licks.
You might think that after hearing the
recorded versions of the songs for two hours,
another dose would be redundant. But it in
a tribute to the quality of the tunes, and the
power of live music, Gov’t Mule proved that
theory dead wrong.