Gov’t Mule- Dark Side of the Mule (ALBUM REVIEW)

govt muleGov’t Mule has never performed material without as much emotional resonance as musical validity and that goes for the covers they choose as well as their originals. And because every song the group plays carries some meaning, this single album of a set devoted entirely to the music of Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Mule, is no exception,

Recorded on the second night of bassist Jorgen Carlsson’s tenure with the group, the set from Boston’s Orpheum Theater on Halloween of 2008 is ultimately as much of a tribute to the late original member of Mule -Allen Woody – as the British group’s “Wish You Were Here” is a tribute to founding guitarist/songwriter Syd Barrett. The title song from that latter album is the appropriate closer, particularly after the penultimate “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” its “Pts 6-9” effectively recapitulating the “1-6” that introduced the homage to the founding bassist.

The shadowy likes of these tunes are of a piece with Mule originals (as presented on the deluxe set of three CD’s), in particular from their earliest days as a trio as is “Pigs on the Wing, Pt. 2” a selection from Animals where the sense of apprehension equals that of bittersweet emotional acceptance. But Gov’t Mule are deceptively ambitious in crafting this personal statement from culls of the iconic  band:  the choices of material, extending all the way back to Meddle, erect a cogent musical statement as well on the pros and cons of the music business from the artist’s perspective (making it appropriate to hear drummer Matt Abts singing “Have A Cigar”).

Mule generate an insistent thrust with the opener “One of These Days,” segueing into the more cerebral likes of “Fearless,” during which the patience of Warren Haynes’ guitar playing is of a piece with the poise of the rest of the band. In a respite from an ominous air the quartet conjures, wholly in keeping with the holiday of masquerade, Ron Holloway’s sax playing offers a cleansing sensation when it appears here: the sound of his instrument effectively cools the feverish atmosphere arising from Haynes’ singing.

Meanwhile the complementary vocals of Machan Taylor, Durga McBroom-Hudson (both of whom toured with Floyd) and Sophia Ramos add to the ghostly atmosphere, particularly during the triptych from Dark Side of the Moon.“Breathe (in the Air),” “Time” and the crowd-pleasing “Money” all carry sentiments in line with a Gov’t Mule ethos that’s now lasted two decades. Likewise the high-profile number from The Wall, “Comfortably Numb,” within which the extended slide solo is the sole interval here, overtly recalls Mule’s own sound.

The graphic design of Dark Side of the Mule includes smart variations on both Pink Floyd and Gov’t Mule iconography, as well as a book of photos, full credits and an essay by Warren Haynes who proudly declares the extent to which the band prepped for this show with laserlights and surround sound that are not part of their customarily no-frills stage production. In so doing, the titular leader of Gov’t Mule offers further dismissal of the notion this unique performance is a novelty in any way shape or form.

Related Posts

7 thoughts on “Gov’t Mule- Dark Side of the Mule (ALBUM REVIEW)

  1. Mr.X Reply

    It’s rather silly that gov’t mule is now a professional cover band, and that they’re re-releasing shows that most fans already either downloaded or traded free audience recordings for.

    • Mike V. Reply

      Both of your statements are silly and useless.
      They are not a “professional cover band” but they do a great job with covers.
      This statement is rendered even more dumb by the second statement about re-releasing shows. They’re not re-releasing it. They haven’t done so till now.
      And perhaps someone would really like to have a better recording than what’s available out there now.
      And since this is from 2008, they must have been THEN a professional cover band.
      Try thinking about what you’re saying before typing it out.

  2. Mr.X Reply

    Mike if you’ve actually seen the original mule with Allen Woody and have paid attention to them after his death you would see how gov’t mule is now pretty much Warren and friends playing covers, and has been ever since Allen Woody died. Granted, yeah they do play their own songs but they play a lot more cover songs.

    Also, covering an album during Halloween is just plain silly as phish did this first for decades, and so have countless other bands. It’s rather tiresome now.

    Audience recordings are far superior to shows like this that the band releases. In an audience recording you get the full show and with money grab releases like these you don’t always get the full show with all of the songs played.

    • Rick Dickulous Reply

      Then move along Mr. X and take your pompous self importance with you! It’s pretty obvious you are no “Real” fan otherwise you would actually appreciate the performance and interpretation of the songs. As far as “Money Grab”? Why shouldn’t Warren & Co. get paid for what they do? They DESERVE IT! Be glad they were cool enough to let it be recorded & shared in the first place! They are a Great Band. Great Musicians. Cool Motherf*ckers! And deserve every penny they get and the accolades that go with it! With fans like You Mr.X? Who needs Enemas?

  3. Mr.X Reply

    Yes this performance was a novelty. I was there for it. I love pink floyd but it does get boring hearing jambands like gov’t mule and others cover dark side.

  4. roguemare Reply

    Do you know why I love it when GM covers a band?

    Because when you see GM do a cover song……

    They make damn sure it is the best version of that song you will ever hear.

    And it’s LIVE

  5. sshhteveO Reply

    Wow. Money grab. There was time when artists got paid for hard work. . . Record sales had a lot to do with that. Music entertainment is a profession. Maybe it hadn’t occured to you but they deserve to get paid for what they do.

Leave A Response

Example Skins

dark_red dark_navi dark_brown light_red light_navi light_brown

Primary Color

Link Color

Background Color

Background Patterns

pattern-1 pattern-2 pattern-3 pattern-4 pattern-5 pattern-6

Main text color