A Review of Gov’t Mule’s Epic and Very Hot LP ‘Heavy Load Blues’

Gov't Mule. Photo by Jay Sansone.

By Anita Stewart, Managing Editor

Album Review: “Heavy Load Blues” by Fantasy Records

Release Date: November 12, 2021

Gov’t Mule is the legendary Warren Haynes on vocals and guitar, Matt Abts on drums, Danny Louis on keyboards, guitar and backing vocals and Jorgen Carlsson on bass. This band has acquired a huge global fan base over the years with their their honest and daring music and their mammoth skills at improvisation. They are considered one of the most well known and popular jam bands among refined music aficionados and Southern Rock fans. And they definitely knock it  out of the park with this crazy-amazing and slicked up 13-track blues-rock album with relentless hooks and a perfect melange of the old and retro songs alongside the brand new.

Gov’t Mule. Photo by Jay Sansone.

The band is led by visionary GRAMMY Award-winning artist and guitar legend Warren Haynes who has recorded over 20 studio albums, performed everywhere one can think of and sold millions of records and tracks. He and his band have added to the great lexicon of American music: the band’s interplay in the studio and on stage makes them a stand out at festivals and Haynes is honored as one of the most formidable guitarists and vocalists of our time and a prolific songwriter and producer. He has also played guitar with two of the most acclaimed live bands in rock and roll history in addition to his own; the Allman Brothers Band and the Grateful Dead.

Heavy Load Blues” is considered a studio LP even though it was recorded live. The sessions were done at The Power Station New England using analog and vintage instruments and equipment to capture the retro bluesy sound. The 13-track album was produced by Haynes alongside engineer and co-producer John Paterno (Michael Landau, Robbie Williams, The Steve Gadd Band). The LP is an even mix of Haynes’ original songs and covers of old classics made famous by artists such as Howlin’ Wolf,  Elmore James, Ann Peebles, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Tom Waits and the Animals. Check out the video about the creating and making of the album HERE.

For the song and video embedded below, the Junior Wells standard “Snatch It Back and Hold It,” the band covered the classic track while inserting a spontaneous original jam called “Hold It Back” in the middle of the song. “We had never played that middle section prior to recording it,” Haynes shares. “While we were working up “Snatch It Back,” we just ran through all the key sections and when we got to the instrumental part, we did a very brief talk through about how it might go. It was virtually a jam and in that sense, it kind of referenced what we normally do on stage. We get an idea and run with it to see where it winds up. It never turns out exactly like you plan it, which is great, because if it is good, it’s usually better than it would have been had you planned it a certain way.

I Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody’s Home,” was originally recorded by Ann Peebles and has been played live by the band. This song came out much funkier that the original–the keyboards reminded me of Billy Preston. For the Howlin’ Wolf song,“I Asked Her For Water, She Gave Me Gasoline,” the band pushed the parameters while using a blend of genres, so this song comes out as an up-tempo and funkier blues-rock version that is quite different from the original–dare I say it? Some of these guitar riffs were Hendrix-like! These two songs are standouts in addition to the title cut and “Snatch It Back and Hold It.” “(Brother Bill) Last Clean Shirt” and “Black Horizon” were two more favorites of mine.

Rock at Night says:This is a classic blues-rock album! Loved it and it was difficult to pick favorites on this recording. This will be a much played LP for many years to come. The recording has everything including a blend of genres, expert musicianship, homage to the great musicians of the past and a focus on the current music of Warren Haynes and his band who are living legends. What the recording doesn’t have is predictability as there are curves and turns everywhere. Their interpretations of the vintage songs shine! Flicking my BIC and shouting “MORE!”

The album “Heavy Load Blues” is available for pre-order now at all of the streaming platforms; each digital pre-save will include an instant download of “Snatch It Back and Hold It” and the previously released song, the swampy blues tune played on a resonator, “Heavy Load.” Check out all the merch including vinyl and digital right HERE. The band is touring now, so check to see if they are coming to your town–upcoming show and ticket information is HERE.





Anita Stewart
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