When looking back on 2013’s albums, Gov’t Mule’s Shout! will no doubt be one of the first that comes to mind. The 2 CD ordeal hit shelves on September 24. Aside from being another solid addition to the group’s already impressive back catalogue, Shout! stands apart because of the brilliant and ambitious artistic direction The Mule took for their first record in four years – disc two is a reimagining of the album with a star-studded cast manning the vocal department. Dr. John, Elvis Costello, and Dave Mathews among others make appearances on Shout!’s second disc, making this one of the most interesting and unique releases we’ve seen in a long time.
As far as the first disc goes, it’s incredible difficult to fault Gov’t Mule for anything. “World Boss” sets the pace for Shout! with slick refined guitar hooks. Rhythmic palm muting rides on top of funky bass lines giving the opening track an edgy, driving feel before dissolving into a perfect entropy of sound. “No Reward” follows in a similar vein with distorted vocals and a heavy beat. Where Shout! really shines though is on its epics. “Captured,” clocking in just under ten minutes, and the aptly-titled “Bring On The Music,” clocking in just over, both carry competent guitar work and thoughtful song structures that can potentially cause you to forget about the world outside the music, particularly with the latter. Warren Haynes’ guitar work on “Bring On The Music” is a phenomenal closing to a remarkable record.
But that’s the best part. When the final note falls on the last track of disc one, there’s still disc two, a sideways iteration of the album in its entirety. Once again, “World Boss” floods senses, only this time with Ben Harper’s vocals. Each track varies slightly in composition, too; a different solo here and there, or perhaps a fade-out ending on a track that previously didn’t have one. The Mule use this second disc not only as a place to hear familiar singers pumping out the songs of the first disc, but also as a testing-ground for options not explored on the first disc – say, perhaps, how Shout! may have been released in a parallel universe. The track listing is slightly altered and, in a wise move to perhaps protect the sacredness of tracks like “Captured” and “Bring On The Music,” most of the longer tracks have been shortened, sometimes significantly. Elvis Costello appearing on “Funny Little Tragedy” is probably the high point on disc two, though Glenn Hughes on “No Reward” comes very, very close
Collaborative work and even collaborative albums are becoming an explored territory (any neo-psychedelia fan will recall the gem/tragedy that was The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends), but Shout! stands uniquely apart because of its two disc execution. Shout! completely avoids feeling gimmicky or contrived because with disc one, not only does Gov’t Mule offer a proper album but an incredible proper album. By the time you’ve finished the first disc, you’re not going to be able to wait to sink your teeth into the second.
The Review: 9.5/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– World Boss
– No Reward
– Stoop So Low
– Funny Little Tragedy
– Bring On The Music
– Funny Little Tragedy (With Elvis Costello)
– Whisper In Your Soul (With Grace Potter)
– No Reward (With Glenn Hughes)
The Big Hit
– No Reward
Review by Richard MacDougall