Righteous Blues-Rockers Tear It Up Here
The Footpath Cowboy | Kingston, NY United States | 11/11/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"LIFE BEFORE INSANITY, Government Mule's last album with the late, great Allen Woody on bass, is a great slab of ZZ Top/Montrose-style hard blues-rock. All of the songs are great, especially "Bad Little Doggie." Leader Warren Haynes is a blistering guitarist and singer, and his belief that the young Australian tourist jailed in Indonesia since 2005 for drug-smuggling was unjustly convicted makes this album an essential purchase for both your ears AND your conscience."
Gov't Mule's 3rd Album - R.I.P Woody
Richard Thompson | El Paso, Texas | 05/08/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Gov't Mule - Life Before Insanity (2000) 12 Tracks **** (73:56)
Life Before Insanity is the last studio album featuring original bassist and founding member Allen Woody. The album kicks off with Wandering Child, which features some nice slide guitar work by Warren which we hadn't previously heard much of before. Next up, the title track starts off nice and slow, with a guitar style that kinda reminds me of Led Zep's "Ten Years After". About two minutes into it they begin to slowly kick it up a notch, but over-all this is a slower number.
Just like their debut album, this one has a few guest musicians. Hook Herrara is back on harmonic for two tracks. Ben Harper guests singing and playing Lap Steel guitar, and Johnny Neel plays organ on three songs. My two favorite songs are Fallen Down and World Gone Wild, both featuring Johnny Neel on organ. These tracks appeal to me personally because of the addition of Neel's organ. They have that classic old 70's style sound with the organ chords always in the background just like most of my favorite groups with keyboards - from Boston to Bob Segar, Tom Petty to R.E.O. Speedwagon, even the Allman Brothers; I just love that classic Hammond B3 sound coming thru the Leslie speakers. Great guitar solos by Warren on both of these too. After the raucous ending of World Gone Wild, things slow to a crawl with Tastes Like Wine, a very dynamic acoustic/electric song. Things just slowly go downhill from there, with each subsequent track lacking in quality from the peak of Fallen Down and World Gone Wild. The last few songs are really just 3-star efforts with the hidden track 12, If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day, coming in last place. It's simply an uninspired 7 minute jam with distorted vocals that I just don't care for. Reminds me of some bonus tracks that are included on remastered discs that absolutely add nothing to the album.
As far as the music goes, I really like the sound of "I Think You Know What I Mean". Hook Herrara adds the magic touch of his harmonica to spice it up along with a cool groove and smooth vocals by Warren, but as far as the lyrics, I can do without the political posturing.
I think Far Away is an example of why this album has gotten such a low rating by Amazon reviewers. I would describe it having a "dark and ominous" feel. If you're in the right depressive mood it may appeal to you. Also, these last few tracks are, for the most part pretty quiet and slow in tempo. I think most Gov't Mule fans prefer the more upbeat blues rockers these guys were known for from their debut. Granted, some of these songs rock out in the middle section, it's just the slower beginnings and endings that some people don't like. Personally, I love songs with lots of dynamic sections that go from whisper quiet to bombastic jammin' then back down again. In My Life features some acoustic and acoustic slide guitar similar to the earlier Tastes Like Wine.
Finally we get the full treatment on the cd booklet: 14 pages with photos, liner notes, AND all lyrics included.
Dose is one of the Mule's lowest rated albums, but it's really not that bad, just not quite as good as most of their other albums. Definitely worth a listen.