Gov't Mule

The Deep End, Vol. 1

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With the death of bassist Allen Woody, the surviving members of Gov't Mule faced that familiar question of how to carry on. Their answer is this sprawling set, on which a cavalcade of bassists and other visitors fly through the Mule tracks, each fitting into the groove in his own way. Drummer Matt Abts is especially adept at accommodating these guests, shifting from a medium-tempo plod behind the clean-picked lines and world-weary vocals of Jack Bruce on "Fool's Moon" to a four-beat slam-out, reminiscent of "Dance to the Music," to accommodate former Sly Stone side monster Larry Graham during "Life on the Outside." And on "Same Price" he hammers fills behind Who alumnus John Entwistle with an energy that recalls Kenny Jones, if not quite Keith Moon, while Warren Haynes approximates Pete Townshend's harmony-driven style. With the band's rugged sound providing common reference, the styles of each bassist prove easy to discern. Those who play inside the groove make their presence known through stealthy insinuation, like Flea on a catlike prowl through "Down and Out in New York City." On "Tear Me Down," Bootsy Collins follows a different tack, by flitting against the band's heavy tread with nimble lines that dance in and out of wah-wah effects, thumb-slap funk, and sly interactions with former P-Funk colleague Bernie Worrell's Minimoog. Allen Woody himself makes a posthumous appearance, on a previously unreleased cover of Grand Funk Railroad's "Sin's a Good Man's Brother." Here, the band stretches into a comfortable, loose, Hendrix-like feel, as all three members jam with intuitive interaction and raw passion; no other performance here feels quite so natural.

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