Being somewhat behind on the release of "By A Thread", I finally got it today and it's another Smoker from the Mule Team!
I read the reviews before I heard it, so I was kind of expecting a departure from what I'm used to hearing from Govt. Mule. Instead, I got the same thing that I love about this band. Good Rock & Roll with a bluesy kick and plenty of spice.
It's refreshing to hear new material from the Mule. Their new addition, bass player Jorgen Carlson, adds a grindier tone to their sound. The songs are all solid goodies and well arrainged on this album. Nobody's going to replace the contributions Woody Allen or even Andy Hess has made to the band, but this sounds great!
Billy Gibbons sits in on the first track "Broke Down On The Brazos" and you get just what you'd expect when you mix Haynes & Gibbons and stir. Kick Ass! "Railroad Boy" is a nice dynamic with a twelve string and a Cappo and transitions well into "Monday Morning Meltdown" and "Gordon James", both a refreshing interlude before the album heats up and starts smokin' again with the next six tracks.
True Mule fans are going to add this one to their collection, and if you dont have "By A Thread" already, what are you waiting for? I waited too long.......
Hey Govt. Mule! When are y'all going to play New Mexico?!!!
Govt' Mule has done a good job, as discussed in the liner notes of this album, of breaking new ground and yet staying connected with their roots. They have employed new rhythms and kept old ones. The same tone you are used to from the albums Gov't Mule, Deja Voodoo, The Deep End vol 1 and 2 come thru so you won't be surprised as I was when I bought their 2007 album Mighty High. That was not an album I reviewed online, it was on a whim. Every other album I like, just not Mighty High. I own every album they have put out except Dose. I like the live versions better. You will like this album. Newcomers to Gov't Mule might like the strong guitar strumming, keyboard work by Danny Louis, and Warren Haynes Vocals. Deep, soulful, Bluesy, and passionate music. If I were to replace my early Rolling Stones albums, this is the artist I would chose, hands down.
This purchase of 'By A Thread' was my first vinyl by Gov't Mule. I had already listened to the album on Prime so I knew I would like the vinyl. ..and I did. It sounds amazing and this won't be the last Mule record I buy.
I've been a Mule fan since the first album. Seen them twice, once back in the day, the second time a few months ago.
Just got the new album and love it. I love Warren's playing and singing. The band seems to have gelled into a more cohesive unit, and in new bass player Jorgen, I think warren's found his felix pappalardi.
I'm surprised to see the negative reviews here. Really? You guys don't like this?
All musicians change (if they're paying attention to their muse) and warren has taken a turn more towards hard rock, classic rock then blues.
The riffs and songs are groovier and crunchier. That's why I like 'em. The sound of the album is more like a led zep or hendrix record, without being imitative, but with warren's great voice.
The band has evolved and grown and changed. Warren's tone has changed, on this record. You want blues, listen to the Allmans. (who i love as well.)
You want crunchy, funky, groonin' guitar tone and playing, buy this CD!
By A Thread (2009) An Honest **** stars. 11 tracks (67:42)
Well, I don't know what everybody is hung up on regarding this new Gov't Mule album. I think it's great. And, if you are a true fan of this band, you should like it too. I guess I'm just not as "critical" of Warren & Co. as some people are. I don't claim to be a long-time fan. I discovered the Mule back in 2005 just by a chance hearing of the track The Deepest End on internet radio one night. I looked up the band and soon purchased The Deep End Vol. 1. That's all it took. Then I worked my way backwards and forwards thru their catalog of music.
Now I know everybody including myself loves The Deep End. But, just like all good bands and musicians, it is time to keep moving forward and let their "sound" evolve. If you don't, then you just become stagnant or formulative. This is Gov't Mule, not Nickelback or AC/DC! Warren and Company will always have a blues base, but they should be able to stretch out a little and change things up every once in a while without the "fans" immediately ridiculing them. Nothing but straight ahead blues rock and searing guitar solos can get repetitive and eventually boring.
When I gave By A Thread its first spin I did not think that much of it. Nothing reached out and grabbed me, but practically no album has ever touched me on the first go round. I've now listened to it a few times at home and in the car driving to work. Gets better every time. I like all kinds of music, from Blues Rock to Progressive Metal, and I am a fan of Mr Warren Haynes. I like his guitar playin' (who doesn't?!) and I like his deep soulful voice. I recently got to listen to his one and (I think) only solo album from back in the mid 90's - Tales of Ordinary Madness. Although many people are also critical of that piece of work, due to it NOT being very similar to what he later accomplished with Gov't Mule, I enjoyed it very much. Maybe I just have a much more open mind when it comes to music. I'm also not so much of a "music snob" that I can't simply enjoy straight up hard rock.
OK, back to By A Thread. There are a lot of different "styles" of music on this album. I especially like that there are more Keyboards on this album than we ever got in the past. Many of the songs change tempo mid-way thru and go off in a seemingly different direction (very cool).
Broke Down on the Brazos: **** A Rockin' Opener. A little more pop-rock than the straight up blues that we're used to, but that's OK. Song features guest musician Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top fame.
Steppin' Lightly: (7:10) **** another mid-tempo rocker. Nice guitar solo.
Railroad Boy: ***** this song has the lyrics and theme of an old-time traditional blues song, but played with a modern feel and arrangement. One of the best songs here.
Monday Mourning Meltdown : **** ½ (8:08) slower paced song with kind of an "experimental" sound due to some spacey keyboards that create an interesting atmosphere. Is it a war protest song? It does have some vague references to the Patriot Act and soldiers blood on the battlefield.
Gordon James: *** sorry, nothing special here. Just a basic song.
Any Open Door: **** fast paced rocker with some big , fat, guitar tone coming right at you in the first few bars and not letting up until the song ends.
Frozen Fear: *** ½ I would almost describe this as a quick-paced ballad. Basically a nice pop-rock song.
Forevermore: **** this one opens up with just acoustic guitar and Warrens vocals. Very quiet. About midway thru they kick it up a notch and jam a little before eventually slowing back down to a whisper quiet acoustic ending. A beautifully sad song of about loss.
Inside Outside Woman Blues #3: ***** (9:00) Scorching guitar! Now this is the kind of Blues that most fans want and love from Warren & Co. and we get almost 9 minutes of this awesome classic Mule jam fest.
Scenes from a Troubled Mind: (7:27) **** ½ another slow, cool, bluesy track. Very nice vocal harmonies and background keyboards, and what do you know, midway thru they completely kick this thing into high gear and let loose. Also another long song at over 7 minutes.
World Wake Up : *** nothing special. Total Average: 4.04 stars
Compact Disc includes a 14 page booklet with photos of the band and complete lyrics in a regular plastic jewel case.
This is one of those bands that I always wanted to hear but kept putting on the backburner for some reason. Well I finally bought this note unheard and I am blown away. This is brilliant. Meets my expectations and then some. The weakest tracks are very good and some of these songs are masterpieces. This one's gonna get some heavy rotation. Now I've gotta get busy and start checking out the back catalog. I'm kicking myself for not doing it sooner!