Govt Mule Back in the Alley

January 1, 2010

0.000gp0110_riffs_GM_nrWHEN 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.

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