Gov’t Mule: The Tel-Star Sessions Review

In this the year of our lord, 2016 one of the greatest bands to ever strap on guitars and lay down the rock and roll celebrates it’s twentieth birthday. Gov’t Mule needs no introduction or explanation. This band  kept heavy blues based rock alive while the rest of the world was moshing to grunge, post-grunge, and nu-metal from the mid 1990s to the present. They celebrate their big 2-0 with the release of The Tel-Star Sessions. These “sessions” are the original demos that Warren Haynes, Allen Woody and Matt Abts cut when The Mule first got together in way back in 1994.

The Tel-Star Sessions showcases the band at it’s most hungry. The band lays down rock and roll like a diesel locomotive out of control, yet they stay firmly on the tracks. Originally, Haynes regarded the Tel-star tracks as demos-never to be released. Upon reflection years later, he liked what he heard and decided to remix the recordings. What stands out here are Haynes’ vocals. At the time he felt his singing was a bit “rough,” but it’s really just that rock and roll hunger coming through. He sounds determined, and completely bad ass on cuts like “Rocking Horse” and “Mr. Big.” Allen Woody does a lot more than just fill in the spaces. When Haynes steps back after a solo, Woody’s lines are some of the most tuneful in all of rock bass-dom.

It’s fun to compare the Tel-Star Sessions with the Mule’s debut. Six of the Tel-star Sessions tracks can be found on their first album, while “Blind Man In The Dark” would appear on Dose, the second studio release. Two tracks have never been included on any studio release: ZZ Tops’ “Just Got Paid” more than does the Billy Gibbons original justice, and “The Same Thing” is a great interpretation of the Willie Dixon classic.

Abts and Woody are one of the most impressive rhythm sections of all time and it’s great to hear them doing their thing once again. Tel-Star Sessions, like most archival recordings reminds us of just how talented a young band was on their first attempt at reviving a sound that was in danger of being forgotten. Lucky for us.

The Review: 9.5/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Blind Man In The Dark
– Mr. Big
– Just Got Paid
– Rocking Horse
– The Same Thing
– Monkey Hill

The Big Hit

– Monkey Hill

Review by Lou Lombardi

Buy the album: Amazon

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