Post-op pain has decided to make itself known today. It’s not unbearable, but it sure as hell is hard to find a comfortable spot. A zero-gravity room would be fantastic right about now, though drinking coffee in said room might prove difficult. Such is life.
Well, in order to pass the time in-between pain pills I thought I’d thrown on Sco-Mule, Gov’t Mule album featuring one of my favorite guitarists John Scofield. If you’re not aware of Mr. Scofield, you must make yourself acquainted with his most excellent album A Go Go, where he’s backed by Medeski Martin and Wood. That album is about as funky as things can get without becoming illegal. Seriously far out guitar with MMW laying down some skronky grooves. That album came out in 1998. In 2004 Scofield and MMW got back together for their masterpiece Out Louder, which they released it under the name Medeski Scofield Martin and Wood. That album had lots of groove but also some really cool experimental noise. It seems when Scofield gets with his fellow musician friends he has an excellent knack for blending right into the surroundings. Instead of pushing his musical agenda on others, he finds his place amongst friends and musical comrades. That’s what he’s doing on Sco-Mule in a most excellent way.
Regarding Gov’t Mule, I really didn’t know much about them prior to hearing this album. I always wrote them off as a southern rock band and that was a stupid thing to do. These guys are master musicians, and Warren Haynes is an incredible guitarist/frontman. His musical histroy begins with David Allen Coe in 1980 when he was 20 years old. He moved on to play in the Dickey Betts Band and The Allman Brothers Band, but Gov’t Mule is his own stamp on music. Marked as a “jam band”, I think that’s what scared me away from them. But just last year I heard their live album Dark Side of the Mule, a cover of Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon that completely blew me away. When I saw they made an album with John Scofield I knew I had to check it out.
Sco-Mule is some serious musicians going at it. Scofield comes from a jazz fusion background, playing with Miles Davis in the early 80s. But when given a chance he can lay down some serious dirty blues as well. And he’s not afraid to use effects pedals, having an Electro Harmonix Micro Synthesizer and Digitech Whammy worked into his pedal board for years now, and to incredible affect.
There’s a lot of what I’d call jamming, but I’m not sure if it’s improvisation per say. They take their time on this record, the shortest tune, “Sco-Mule” coming in at a little over nine minutes. The rest mingle and mix in the air from 11 minutes to the epic 23-minute “Afro Blue”.
Up until this point I don’t think this concert, which was recorded on September 23rd, 1999 at the Roxy in Atlanta, was available anywhere, at least in physical form. I had been used to listening to the 2 1/2 hour album online, so it was a bit of a shock when I got the heavy duty 180 gram vinyl copy just yesterday and there’s only seven songs. Two songs per side, with the 18 minute “Kind of Bird” finishing out side D. Tracklisting for this delicious live album is Side A: Hottentot, Doing It To Death, Side B: Birth of the Mule, Sco-Mule, Side C: Tom Thumb, Pass The Peas, and Side D: Kind of Bird.
There isn’t a dull spot on this excellent live LP. If you haven’t heard any of Scofield’s records, you must make it your goal to hear at least A Go Go and the Medeski, Scofiend, Martin, and Wood album Out Louder. Seriously good shit, folks(yes, I typed “good shit”.)
Think I’ll go flip that beast of a record and listen to it again. Maybe pop a pill. I started typing this about 1:30pm. I could feel myself mentally wandering off from time to time, so a nap was in order. Hope this digital letter finds you all well. In case you were wondering, it’s the weekend before Spring Break and it was snowing like crazy earlier. 50 mile per hour winds and it may have been raining frogs, too. Not sure.