Review: The Tel-Star Sessions - Gov't Mule

by Andy Snipper,

Many bands have something dark and hidden in their past – normally the first demos that they cut while they were tyros, before that had a real direction and while their nascent skills were developing.

Gov’t Mule have had these recordings sitting in the vaults – never previously released – since 1994 and they definitely have a raw edge to them, a roughness that is appealing but they also have very clear pointers that the trio of Warren Haynes, Allen Woodley and Matt Abts were an outrageously talented band with a love of jamming and a great sense of the music.

What comes over in a quite amazing way is how tight they are. Sure, they are stretching out and jamming but they are building songs around the jam and not just adding it in.

From the opener, "Blind Man In The Dark", there is a burning energy to the band and with Haynes guitar and throaty vocals being driven by one of the closest rhythm sections around the music is focused around the looseness of the bands song structures. It would be reasonable if they were widdling for the sake of it but they have clear vision and endless energy pouring into and out of the groove. Their version of ZZ Top's Just Got Paid shows that they can interpret like no-one else.

You can definitely tell that these were demo recordings just by listening to where Haynes vocals are in the mix but his guitar and Allen Woosey’s bass are beautifully recorded while Matt Abts percussion has a really clear sound to it.

It is easy to see where the band was going with this but, unlike most early band demos, it stands in its own right as a worthy album.

There was better to come but this is a hell of a platform to be kicking off from.

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