It has been four long years since Gov’t Mule last released a studio album, 2013’s excellent ‘Shout!’, although the band has hardly been absent with 2014-16 given over to a series of archival releases that gave fans plenty to get their teeth in to. ‘Shout!’, of course, was a monster album, not least because the band took the unprecedented step of tracking the thing twice; once with Warren Haynes on vocals, once with a series of guest vocalists adding their own unique twist to the music; and then, in a gesture of considerable generosity, they released the both discs bundled together. ‘Revolution come… revolution go’ has no such conceit, although a deluxe edition, which offers up a second disc, is available for fans who want a little more bang for their buck. Sadly, that edition was not available at time of review, so we’ll be addressing the twelve-track standard edition.
Featuring eleven original tracks and one traditional song (arranged for the band by Warren), revolution come… revolution go’ has considerable vigour. From the moment ‘stone cold rage’ swings into view on the back of an impressively powerful stoner riff, it’s clear that the band (comprising Warren, Matt Abts, Danny Louis and Jorgen Carlsson) are possessed of a fire more commonly associated with their live performances. Musically loose, as if the band caught the song on the fly, and yet built around a concise riff from Warren, ‘stone cold rage’ is the sort of hulking blues monster that Led Zeppelin might have assaulted during the ‘Physical Graffiti’ era and the result is akin to a sonic explosion, welcoming the listener to the album. With a thunderous opening, ‘Drawn that way’ wrongfoots the listener, with the introduction promising a trip into Deep Purple territory before the band slow the pace and kick into a slow-burning blues groove with a tough performance from Warren, whose vocals have an edge to them that blazes like recently-ignited touch paper. In contrast, ‘Pressure under fire’ is a great ballad which recalls the likes of Black Country Communion and King King at their very best. Warren’s lyrics here capture a message of unity which are rendered all the more poignant in such a fragmentary age, and the result is a song that works its way right to the listener’s core. Sticking to the more melancholic vibe, ‘the man I want to be’ has a soulful vibe reminiscent of Janis Joplin with Warren weaving the lyrics around the music in that same way that Janis was able to. Elegant and awash with emotion, it’s a highlight, although, given the overall quality of the record, highlights sure are difficult to spot and more than likely to change with each subsequent listen. With a subtle country edge, ‘travelling tune’ is the sound of someone heading on down the road, a bittersweet sense of regret mingled with the prospect of adventure running through their mind. The first half of the album comes to an end with the exotic ‘thorns of life’, a hallucinogenic trip that takes reverb-drenched guitar and hypnotic percussion and loses the listener within its dense folds.
Opening the second half with a slow blues, Gov’t Mule’s ‘Dreams & songs’ is an autobiographical piece that is one part Gary Moore, one part Journey with its dreamy melody and stunning guitar work. Another track with a soulful vibe (and even a funky underpinning thanks to Jorgen’s creeping bassline), ‘Sarah, surrender’ has a light, airy feel to it before ‘Revolution come, revolution go’ takes that funky vibe to a whole new level with Jorgen’s nimble-fingered bass work providing the canvass for Warren’s increasingly impressive guitar work. A tough blues in the vein of King King and Free, ‘burning point’ has a memorable melody and a wired guitar riff that keeps things surging forward only for ‘easy times’ to pull back on the reins and take us to a quiet place as the album draws toward its close. Once again evoking the spirit of Gary Moore, the band feel their way through the song, relying on emotion rather than technicality to give the song its poignant vibe. The album comes to its end with the sparkling piano and slide guitar of ‘dark was the night, cold was the ground’, a truly monumental album closer that digs all the way back to Led Zeppelin II for inspiration.
At seventy-seven minutes, ‘Revolution come… revolution go’ pushes the limits of the humble CD to breaking point but, remarkably, not the listener’s patience. There’s enough variation on offer here, not to mention enough spontaneity in the band’s playing, that it’s more like enjoying a live performance than a studio album. A richly rewarding album, ‘Revolution come… revolution go’ is Gov’t Mule at the peak of their not inconsiderable powers. 10