They’ve been one of the finest rock ‘n’ roll acts on the planet for over two decades, gifting us a wealth of material that showcases their flair for improvisation and effortless ability to integrate numerous styles into their musical soup. But with ‘Revolution Come…Revolution Go’, Gov’t Mule have created a bona fide masterpiece that may well be their crowning glory.
Considering Warren Haynes and the boys have produced magnificent records like ‘Dose’, ‘Life Before Insanity’, ‘The Deep End’ and ‘Deja Voodoo’, only a truly special release would prompt such a bold claim. As accessible and cohesive as it is diverse and adventurous, ‘Revolution Come…Revolution Go’ is a glorious 78 minute beast that, musically, lyrically, emotionally and thematically delivers on every level.
For starters, the scope and depth of its stylistic canvas is something to behold. They may revisit their early sound on the grungy blues-rock of Drawn That Way, its scintillating climax propelled by pulsating bass and crisply articulated ZZ Top soloing, but elsewhere the Mule’s penchant for the epic is given a fresh twist.
There’s the woozy-psychedelic stomper Thorns Of Life and Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground - where a monstrous slide riff drags Led Zeppelin’s In My Time Of Dying across the bottom of a haunted southern swamp.
New ground is also successfully conquered on Travelling Tune and Sarah Surrender. The former is an ode to life on the road that sojourns deep into country territory, its peachy guitar lines and moving lyrical sentiments bringing to mind the band’s dearly departed friends Butch Trucks and Gregg Allman. The romantic funk ‘n’ soul of the latter, meanwhile, channels vintage Al Green and purrs with laid back grooves and swooning Motown backing vocals.
On the day Gov’t Mule began recording this album, Donald Trump was elected President of the USA. Although not a didactic musical sermon, that political event reverberates throughout as angry, disillusioned feelings about the divisive effect the electoral campaign had on their nation are aggressively purged.
Stone Cold Rage’s defiant flood of riffs thunder away as Haynes’ vocal and lyrical ire match his flammable fretwork punch for punch. Pressure Under Fire, meanwhile, unleashes an impassioned call for unity and the title track – equal parts enraged vitriol and rallying cry - finds the band at their most progressive, with trippy hard rock grooves and grinding blues rhythms segueing into the kind of extended jazz section Twin Peaks’ Audrey Horne could dance her mischievous heart out to.
But this record isn’t a one note lyrical affair, and those fiery statements are counterbalanced by some intensely personal moments. The Man I Want To Be is stirring rock ‘n’ soul fuelled by Haynes’ sensational gospel-esque enunciation, while the melancholic reflectiveness of Dreams & Songs and Easy Times both encapsulate the record’s overarching thematic backbone.
Whether overtly stated or subtextual, the emotionally sprawling songs on ‘Revolution Come…Revolution Go’ are glued together by the belief that making sincere and lasting human connections will defeat the shared evils we all face. From sublime arrangements and affluent instrumental embellishments to unflinching lyrical honesty and outstanding musical performances, the wondrous elements of this record perpetually enrich each other, creating a perfect textural synchronicity that deepens the powerful, and often profound, resonance of each and every song. In other words: masterpiece.
Revolution Come. Revolution Go
Rock & roll has always been a reflection of the times, and the new Mule is no exception.