Gov’t Mule have released their first studio album since Shout! was released in 2013. As the times have changed dramatically over the past four years — and especially in the past twelve months with the shift of power from Barrack Obama to Donald Trump — it seems appropriate the album would be called Revolution Come…Revolution Go.
In fact, the band started making this record on Election Day — November 8, 2016 — and most of the songs were already written before anyone knew that Donald Trump would be the President of the United States. Warren Haynes talked about the timing with Rolling Stone:
November 8th was the first day of recording, so it’s a boring day – you’re loading in, setting up, getting sound, doing all the tedious things that lead up to actually recording. Every time we would take a break, somebody would glance at the news, and as it was getting closer and closer to evening, it seemed a little more leaning toward him than normal. But that’s the way it was with Romney in the beginning too; they were making it look like, “Oh, he could win.” We’d go work some more, come back out, take a break, and it looked a little bit more dire. But still, I just thought the media was freaking out and trying to milk it for everything it was worth.
And then we start recording, and we got lost in that until the end of the night. We came out and everybody’s cell phones were blowing up and everybody had a million texts, and they were everything from lighthearted joking to suicidal. And we were just like, “Wow, this really can’t be true.” And that was the last time I watched the news or read the newspaper for two weeks. I just said, “You know what? I’m going to focus on music, and I can’t even think about this right now.”
… The first thing we did, once we found out that he had won, was we went in and played a blues tune to get it out of our systems. No thoughts of putting it on the record; we just thought, let’s go play some blues. We were just joking around – “Wow, this is going to be a really dark record” – but somewhere along the line we decided, let’s tackle these political songs, but let’s also do all the positive stuff about making the world better and reflection and one-on-one relationships. We shelved some of the songs that were written earlier to make room for some of the ones that were written at the last minute; the last two songs were “Sarah, Surrender” and “Traveling Tune,” and neither one of those is political. I guess it inspired us to kind of make sure that we were painting both sides of the picture.
Revolution Come…Revolution Go should have universal appeal for fans of classic rock. It has a feel familiar to longtime fans of the Mule, yet there are enough fresh ideas to keep things interesting. There are doses of socio-political messages, which are appropriate in this age of political turmoil and anxiety over such things as terrorism and seemingly endless warfare to the melting of the polar ice caps. Anger bubbles beneath the surface, but that energy is balanced by the feel good music and positive lyricism that has been pouring out of Warren Haynes for decades now.
“Stone Cold Rage” opens the album with the band delivering their signature brand of driving rock. “Pressure Under Fire” is a slow brewing jam highlighting Warren’s soulful vocals, and “The Man I Want To Be” is a mellow affair supported with Jorgen’s smooth bass lines and Danny’s colorful keys. “Traveling Tune” showcases easy-feeling percussion and stellar guitar work, making it tailor-made for listening to while cruising down a highway on a sunny day.
Foot-tapping percussion and warm harmonies support “Sarah, Surrender,” lending a smoother rock vibe. Almost the entire album was recorded in Austin, Texas, where local legend Jimmie Vaughan dropped in to record the slow-grooving “Burning Point,” a highlight that sounds like a brilliant adaptation of brother Stevie’s classic “Crossfire.” Meanwhile, “Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground” shows Gov’t Mule paying respect to blues musician Blind Willie Johnson with a gritty and stellar version of the tune first recorded in 1927.
Since forming in 1994, Gov’t Mule have maintained a ferociousness in their playing style and have risen to the top ranks in the jamband community. The core Gov’t Mule band since 2008 has been Warren Haynes (vocals, guitar) and co-founding member Matt Abts (drums) with Danny Louis (keys, guitar, trumpet) and Jorgen Carlsson (bass), and they show on this record they are all still great musicians.
Sometimes referred to as the “hardest working man in rock and roll,” Warren Haynes has kept busy releasing a folky album with Railroad Earth called Ashes & Dust and touring behind that, in addition to leading Jerry Garcia Symphonic Celebrations, The Band’s Last Waltz 40th Anniversary concerts, and playing a variety of other shows.
Make no mistake though, Gov’t Mule is Warren’s “baby,” and with the help of expert musicians like Danny, Jorgen, and Matt, the band remains a powerhouse to this day. Revolution Come…Revolution Go is a prime example of the band hitting on all cylinders and exploring subtle varieties in different music genres while remaining true to their core sound. Obviously, there’s plenty of guitar-driven blues rock but there is also a nice mix of R&B, reggae, and jazz.
Frontman Warren Haynes talked about the album in an interview with Premier Guitar:
We’re all really happy with the way this turned out… It’s the most diverse record we’ve ever made. The energy is really ‘live’ in the way the four of us play together. It’s very important to us that the interplay comes across, even in the more straight-ahead songs. As opposed to building things one instrument at a time, we’re really committed to maintaining this approach: recording live, keeping the solos from the live takes, and capturing band chemistry.
The rock veterans have been touring heavily over the past few years, as usual, while releasing a series of albums of classic live concerts: Dark Side of the Mule, Dub Side of the Mule, and Sco-Mule. They don’t seem to be short on new material here, with the basic Revolution Come…Revolution Go containing 12 songs over 77 minutes, while a deluxe version has 18 tracks covering nearly two hours.
Revolution Come…Revolution Go is available on Amazon. You can also stream the full LP for free above, via Spotify.
For more, check out the Gov’t Mule Zumic artist page.