ARTIST:

GOV'T MULE

(UNITED STATES)
TITLE:

LIFE BEFORE INSANITY

(2000)
LABEL:

CAPRICORN

GENRE:

ROCK

TAGS:
Bluesy, Rasping vocals, Southern
""Life Before Insanity" surprises by its dark and melancholic side and remains an intense work from which it is difficult to emerge unscathed"
LOLOCELTIC (05.01.2009)  
5/5
(0) opinions from our readers (0) comment(s)

One year after "Live... With A Little Help From Our Friends" on which he showed his art of improvisation through jams of a rare quality, Gov't Mule comes back with his third studio album entitled "Life Before Insanity". After the instrumental orgies of his predecessor, this album surprises us by its more compact dimension and by the presence of distinguished guests such as Ben Harper, Johnny Neel (keyboards of The Allman Brothers Band) or Hook Herrera (famous harmonicist), opening the power-trio to new instruments.

However, it seems necessary to reassure the fans by specifying that, apart from "Bad Little Doogie" with its straightforward and effective boogie-rock riff, the rest of this album is far from the radio format that the word "compact" could lead us to suspect. It is rather with the general atmosphere that this term adapts more. Indeed, even if the powerful blues rock of Gov't Mule is mixed with various influences, the whole is rather dark and melancholic, and it is necessary to wait for the cover of Robert Johnson, "If I Had Possession Of Judgement Day", hidden at the end of the album, to feel some joy and good mood in the music of the trio. From the eponymous title, alternating between ballad and mid-tempo, it is quickly palpable that the emotion will be deep, but will not tend to be a good laugh. As a matter of fact, the acoustic passages of "Tastes Like Wine" or "In My Life" let appear all the sensitivity of a Warren Haynes as tormented as his voice. It's as if he foresaw the tragedy that would strike the band a few months after the release of this album and about which we will speak later.

Indeed, if Gov't Mule knows how to change the atmospheres, we float in a sad melancholy most of the time. "Fallen Down" wraps us from its soul-jazz intro and its calm verses before surprising us on the accelerations of its chorus, while "Far Away" uses the same stratagem of tempos variations within the same title, in a desert atmosphere where the heat mists trouble the horizon. It's extremely rare to see a track running at the same tempo from beginning to end and the final acceleration is the rule on "World Gone Wild" where sharp guitars and keyboards are propelled by the drum bursts of Matt Abts, the chief gunner, or on "No Need To Suffer" which sees Allen Woody launching the instrumental orgasm of a heavy and round bass riff.

In the middle of this artistic gloom, the rare rays of light will come from a "Lay Your Burden Down" seeing the intervention of Ben Harper on vocals and steel guitar, or a very southern "I Think You Know What I Mean", with lyrics full of a caustic humor towards the political world, and illustrated with harmonica interventions of the master Hook Herrera. But even on these tracks, we're still far from the party atmosphere of a drunken night, as Haynes' lyrics mostly deal with social issues or introspective feelings.

"Life Before Insanity" is therefore an intense work from which it is difficult to come out unscathed, and its atmosphere is even more heavy when we know that Allen Woody will be found dead in his hotel room, a few weeks after the release of this album. It is to wonder if the obvious artistic fusion between the musicians had not overflowed on more unfathomable mind spheres, letting imagine such dark destinies for the band during the composition of the songs of this opus.


More informations on http://www.mule.net/





TRACK LISTING:
01. Wandering Child - 6:06
02. Life Before Insanity - 6:13
03. Bad Little Doggie - 3:48
04. Lay Your Burden Down - 5:27
05. Fallen Down - 6:58
06. World Gone Wild - 6:17
07. Tastes Like Wine - 7:00
08. I Think You Know What I Mean - 4:57
09. Far Away - 5:55
10. No Need To Suffer - 8:22
11. In My Life / If I Had Possession Of... - 12:50

LINEUP:
5 & 6): Claviers
Allen Woody: Basse
Ben Harper (4): Chant / Guitares
Hook Herrera (3 & 8): Harmonica
Johnny Neel (4: Claviers
Matt Abts: Batterie
Warren Haynes: Chant / Guitares
   
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