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GOV’T MULE “THE TEL-STAR SESSIONS” Album Review

Genre: SOUTHERN ROCK
Released by:Provogue Records
Release date: 5th August 2016

Tracklist:
1.
Blind Man in The Dark
2.
Rocking Horse
3.
Monkey Hill
4.
Mr. Big
5.
The Same Thing
6.
Mother Earth
7.
Just Got Paid
8.
Left Coast Groovies
9.
World of Difference
10.
World of Difference (Alt version/bonus track)

Line up:
Warren Haynes – Guitar/vocals
Allen Woody – Bass
Matt Abts – Drums

With a career spanning 30+ years and serving as long time Allman Brothers guitarist, Warren Haynes is a musician who needs no introduction.

Gov’t Mule came to fruition when Warren teamed up with Allen Woody and Matt Abts fora side project at Tel-Star Studios…

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… (outside Sarasota, Florida) back in 1994. Whilst Allen Woody has since been replaced twice, and Tel-Star studios has sadly fallen into disuse, this album is a collective of previously unreleased recordings which he features on, with a few of the songs being recognizable from early Gov’t Mule albums, albeit in different versions.
The lengthy opener “Blind Man in the Dark” gives these seasoned musicians the initial opportunity to impress with limited vocals making way for extra instrumentation, a fantastic, soulful Southern Rock track that puts me in the mood for going on a long drive with this music as my only accompaniment. Up next is the shorter more upbeat “Rocking Horse”, featuring a rock/funk groove and fantastic vocals, percussion is suitably gentle in contrast to guitar and bass on this track.

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Mr. Big exhibits the “raw” bass groove Gov’t Mule set out to achieve with their kind of sound and Allen Woody works this perfectly in this song. Lyrically simple and vocally superb, this is one of the album highlights for me.
With ‘Cream’ cited as one of the influences of this power trio, the articulate percussion of Matt Abts on “The Same Thing” sounds very similar in style to that of Ginger Baker, particularly nearing the end when Warren Haynes revs up the guitar. Musical perfection, this proves to be another definitive track on the album.
Introducing a bit of Blues alongside the Southern Rock, with its repetitive rhythm “Mother Earth” exemplifies further the ‘tight but loose’ style of these musicians, blending wailing guitar with consistent bass and drums in their unmistakable sound, the ending is also distinctly bluesy in style.

The faster paced “Just got Paid” is a catchy tune that sounds like a jam session. One of the shortest tracks on the album, it gets notably heavier towards the end and the simple drum finish is excellent.
The penultimate and final tracks are – “World of Difference”, so good they done it twice. The album interestingly features two different versions one after the other, starting off with a fantastic bass groove before guitar and vocals are introduced, the bass line remains predominant throughout the track. Accenting amazing lyrics and vocals, this tune is musically superb start to finish and has more of a classic rock feel to it generally… but with an edge, and a Southern/Bluesy sound inching in later in the song. The alternative version has a softer tone to it initially, sounding as though brushes are being used in place of drumsticks. This track, in either variation is the perfect finish to this album.

The Tel-Star Sessions is a collection of perfect sunny day, Southern Rock at its best. The release of these archived recordings was a long time coming and a welcome addition to the Gov’t Mule discography…

 

Reviewer: Karen Hetherington

Rating:10/10

 

 

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