Mulennium (Live at the Roxy, Atlanta GA 31 Dec 1999)
Gov't Mule's live New Year's Eve shows are the high point of the year for fans: they usually last for four hours-plus and include loads of guests who help to create some inspiring musical moments. Two early Mule live releases were also recorded on NYE -- Live at Roseland Ballroom (1995) and Live with a Little Help from Our Friends, recorded at Atlanta's Roxy in 1998. The triple-disc Mulennium was recorded December 31, 1999, also at the Roxy, but has remained in the can until now. In its way, it is the definitive document of the original Gov't Mule power trio: guitarist/vocalist Warren Haynes, bassist Allen Woody (this was his last NYE show with the band, he died eight months later), and drummer Matt Abts. Disc one begins with a cheesy intro by an unnamed announcer who cops directly from Brother JC Crawford's off the MC5's debut Kick Out the Jams. This is literally the only thing here that feels wrong. Disc one covers the concert up to midnight. It includes seven Mule originals, among them are truly burning versions of "Bad Little Doggie," "Life Before Insanity," and "Blind Man in the Dark." But this is a preliminary: after midnight comes the first surprise: a stellar -- and fitting -- cover of King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man," followed by the Who's "We're Not Gonna Take It," and Led Zep's "Dazed and Confused." Disc two begins with a six-song blues set with legend Little Milton on vocals; highlights here are "When the Blue Comes Knockin'," "I Can't Quit You Baby," and "It Hurts Me Too." Before the disc closes, newly minted Black Crowes' guitarist Audley Freed joins the band on-stage for a cover of Alice Cooper's "Is It My Body" and Jimi Hendrix's "The Power of Soul." Freed remains for much of the rest of the show. Guitarist Johnny Mosier and pedal steel boss Mark Van Allen (the latter two members of Blueground Undergrass) join Mule and Freed on the encores. The final disc in the package is highlighted by killer readings of the Beatles' "Helter Skelter," the Black Crowes' "Sometimes Salvation," and Humble Pie's "Thirty Days in the Hole" (that morphs into "I Don't Need No Doctor"). Guitarist Johnny Mosier and pedal steel player Mark Van Allen (the latter two, members of Blueground Undergrass) join Mule and Freed on the encores: Tony Joe White's "Out Of the Rain," Bob Dylan's "I Shall Be Released" and Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Simple Man." Ultimately, Mulennium is a truly special Gov't Mule gig. Though it was never meant to be released, the remixed sound is full and present, and showcases the original band at its raw, hot, improvisationally spontaneous best.