Shout! Is a record with ‘rock solid material, inspired performances and first-class production values’
Four years after the release of their last studio recording, southern blues/rock mainstay Gov’t Mule has resurfaced with one of the best records in the band’s almost 20-year history.
Shout! also stands as one of the band’s most unusual offerings.
That’s because guitarist Warren Haynes and company have chosen to record two versions of every song on the album.
Disc one of this two-disc offering features the original versions of the 11 songs written for Shout!.
The second disc features all 11 songs but with a different guest vocalist on each one.
As far as I can recall nobody else has done that.
More about disc two later.
First things first. What does Shout! have to offer?
In a nutshell, this is a record with rock solid material, inspired performances and first-class production values.
It’s packed tight with explosive blues rockers, smoldering jams, deep soulful grooves and more, like a cranky little punk rock number reminiscent of Elvis Costello’s early Stiff Records offerings and even a little soul/reggae hybrid.
Haynes wrote five of the album’s 11 tracks and co-wrote the remaining six with his bandmates, Mule co-founder and drummer Matt Abts, multi-instrumentalist Danny Louis and bassist Jorgen Carlsson.
A number of the songs were inspired by artists and albums that Haynes and company have a particular fondness for.
Bring On The Music, for example, was written to mark the 40th anniversary of the break-up of iconic British rock act Free.
Stoop So Low with its wicked, funky grooves was inspired by the Sly & The Family Stone record Fresh, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.
What about disc two, you ask.
Disc two, as previously stated, gives you everything disc one did, except Haynes’ lead vocals.
For this disc the band brought in a fairly diverse group of artists.
Elvis Costello, Steve Winwood, Ben Harper, Dave Matthews, Dr. John, Toots Hibbert and Deep Purple alumnus Glenn Hughes were among those to get the nod.
While not everybody was able to carry the ball, the most of these heavyweights were up to the task the band gave them.
In some cases, the songs seemed as if they were made to order.
Costello delivered Funny Little Tragedy like it was one of his own.
Hughes, who’s still got serious chops, nailed No Reward.
Jamaican reggae legend Hibbert of Toots & The Maytals fame was the perfect choice for Scared To Live.
Winwood fared well with When The World Gets Small, not surprising given that it sounds like it could have been written for Traffic.
I loved Dr. John’s delivery on Stoop So Low.
Harper held his own, as did Dakota Moon’s Ty Taylor and Alter Bridge’s Myles Kennedy.
I like Grace Potter, but she doesn’t quite pull of Whisper In Your Soul.
Even if you didn’t care for some of the vocal performances on Shout!, the instrumental performances are stellar, particularly those from Haynes and keyboard player Louis.
The record is good, and the alternate takes found on the second disc make it a pretty nice bonus.
Rating: 3 1/3 stars out of 5.
Doug Gallant, a reporter with The Guardian, writes his music review column for The Guardian every week. He welcomes comments from readers at email@example.com or 629-6000, ext. 6057.