Gov't Mule

The Deep End, Vol. 2

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Collaboration has always been Warren Haynes' forte. The former sessionman has had many homes -- the Allman Brothers Band and Phil Lesh & Friends, to name two semi-regular ones -- but only one remotely permanent abode: Gov't Mule, his musical partnership with bassist Allen Woody and drummer Matt Abts. When Woody died in summer 2000, Haynes found strength through more collaboration, opening Gov't Mule's doors to literally dozens of guests. The Deep End, Vol. 2 is the second volume of his tribute to Woody, featuring the second part of a veritable who's who of the world of rock bassists. Featured here are (among others): Primus' Les Claypool, the Grateful Dead's Phil Lesh, Band of Gypsies' Billy Cox, ex-Metallica's Jason Newsted, and the Meters' George Porter, Jr.. The music is typical Mule: hard-rocking Southern blues-rock. And though a lot of it sticks to that formula, the music manages to be pretty creative. The production is solid, and each bassist is given ample sonic space without ever sounding like a showboat. Despite the range of guests (whose day jobs include holding grooves for bands whose specialties include New Orleans funk, heavy metal, psychedelic jamming, and rubbery, punky weirdness), the music all manages to sound like Gov't Mule. This is mostly due to Haynes' strength. Neither his guitar nor vocal styles are particularly innovative or original, but he's quite impressive at both (though his vocal mannerisms are a perhaps a touch affected from time to time). It is this voice, and the focus of creating a tribute to Woody, that elevate this from a simple all-star jamboree to a coherent record.

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