Gov't Mule Spin Off Will Keep You Rocking In The Floyd World

A reader recently asked if analogplanet would review some “heavier” musical material. I pointed out that we reviewed Volto! and The Mars Volta, among other purveyors of heavy guitar-based grooves, but that we’re not locked into bands with volt references. I referenced the Polish prog-metal band Indukti

That exchange was fresh off the email server when this “old school” heavy grooved double album arrived. POA can be an acronym for “Power of Attorney” but here it stands for “Planet of the Abts”. The group is built around Government Mule drummer Matt Abts and the band’s bassist Jorgen Carlsson, who have been locked-in for decades. Here they add Swedish guitarist and lead singer T-Bone Anderson who definitely digs Brian May, among others.

All Things the Valley is the group’s second album, “crowd-funded” through Pledge Music and fans of both POA and Gov’t Mule. Maybe they were expecting a mix of Pink Floyd, Kraftwerk, “old school” heavy blooz, progressive rock, some pop-ish harmonies and a smattering of strings and horns played by members of the L.A. Philharmonic but I wasn’t! (I later learned that Gov’t Mule performed an entire show’s worth of Pink Floyd tunes at an Orpheum Theater Halloween show in Boston back in 2008).

When I hear about rhythm section offshoots I mostly expect a lot of one-chord jamming and weak attempts at melody and weaker song structures but that is not what you get here.

What you get is a deliriously pleasurable amalgam of what I wrote a few paragraphs up, emphasis on heavy grooves, virtuosic, squealing guitars, complex, layered production and riffs some familiar but most not, all anchored by Abts’ manically intense drumming.

The mood shifts are impressive: there are all out assaults, basic late 60s’s heavy blues and dreamy Floyd-like drifts with psychedelic underpinnings. These guys are also incredibly tuneful when they want to be and always and I mean always interesting. There’s no filler whatsoever. There’s musical shape-shifting among the tunes and within the tunes. You’ll time-travel to the ‘60s and the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, as the guys glide easily between and among musical genres and the pleasingly thick and heavy production. "I Call You Whiskers", a "heavy blues" number brought me back to bobbing heads, sweaty armpits, too much beer and a packed small club full of B.O. I loved it! I wish there was a lyric sheet included but I’ll just have to keep listening to decipher the words—hardly a chore!

They do make music the way they used to and they also can still produce and record it that way too. Guitarist Andersson is also credited as “Mix Assistant/Tape Op”. Yes, TAPE OP.

Now, was this all recorded analog too? I don’t know but it was obviously mixed to tape and Kevin Gray cut from tape and it sounds it. What I like best about the mix and especially about the EQ is that it is somewhat dark at low and normal playback levels, which means? Yes, this record is designed to be played at HIGH SPLs, where it opens way up and achieves ideal tonality. Just remember, this is not audiophile demo material, it is rock’n’roll, deeply and thickly felt and played. Crank it up and live! (The vinyl edition includes a bonus rehearsal track of “I Wanna Be Your Man”).

Joe Gastwirt mastered the CD, which provides a completely different listening experience. It has it’s attractive qualities but you can’t turn it up and “fall into” it at all. If you dug Volto! fall in! You’ll be glad you did. P.S.: Robert Piersanti's cover art looks great in double 12x12 and the model has a hell of an arse! P.P.S.: Rainbo's 180g pressing is outstanding. P.P.P.S: The AAA rating is perhaps questionable. It might really be DAA.

elliotdrum's picture

Mike-sorry to do this I wasn't sure how to reach you:
If you happen to get a copy of the Frank Sinatra's
Come Dance With Me that Capitol Records just released
on 180 gram vinyl could you just let us know how it sounds?
Also there is a release on Wax Time Records if you have heard
that one. Thank you

weirdo12's picture

That Warren Haynes doesn't hire Kevin Gray to master Gov't Mule's recordings! That said maybe he'd refuse because Warren demands compression, compression and more compression...

Miro Muzlai's picture

Mr Fremer, Please review more Lp's. I enjoy reading all the other stuff, but am waiting for a review of Sticky Fingers, Thick as a Brick, The Band Box from Capitol and many others. I would like to see your comments before they are all sold out! Your reviews are the main reason why I look at your site regularly.
Best regards

madfloyd's picture

I can't seem to find it at any of the usual online sites.

Paul Robertson's picture

Great review. I have the first POA, only available on cd I believe unfortunately. Great album, and I caught them live a few years back in LA out Ventura way at an unpromoted gig in a pizza bar joint. Fantastic live show. I'm an old Mule fan, but these guys are much better IMO only of course. Got a pic with Matt, who was happy to say hello. I wasn't aware of this release, so thank you for the heads and thumbs up Mike. Ironically Volto (amazing LP and live show) play the Baked Potato in Studio City frequently. POA are playing this month I believe. Catch either band there, and you will not be disappointed. POA mixed to and cut to tape on vinyl. I'm in!!!

JohnnySpinVinyl's picture

Michael, if and ever possible..would it be asking too much if you will sometime soon review Mew's newest 2015 release entitled +-
(plus minus), their vinyl pressing? I ordered the CD online , it was not easily found here in my hometown's record stores..and yet something tells me that the vinyl's sonic wonders will blow the CD out of the water.
Thanks much.

Bob Ward's picture

... was Govt Mule's original bass player. Sadly, he passed in 2000. The mule has allowed several bass players to fill this void since. Jorgen has been the latest installment.