Mighty High is Gov’t Mule’s attempt to highlight the sometimes-subtle hints of reggae that sneak through in its live shows. Wrongly accused of being a straight forward remix album, some of the songs are simply Gov’t Mule playing their songs with a slight reggae feel. Others, though, are true dub-mixes, though this seems to mean nothing more than then cranking up the bass and layering a funky organ line over the top. Michael Franti, Toots Hibert, and Willi Williams are along for the ride, and give Mighty High a small stamp of authenticity.
Lost in the shuffle is the usual star of Gov’t Mule albums, Warren Haynes’ guitar, which finds itself at times buried beneath the pounding bass and drums. Still this combination works well occasionally, most notably the opening cover of Al Green’s “I’m a Ram” and The Band’s “The Shape I’m In,” when the reggae feel supports Haynes’ guitar. At times the album creeps too far away from the traditional blues-rock sound that dominates Gov’t Mule’s music and moves into the realm of dancehall. That is when Mighty High misses the mark.
Haynes and company should be applauded for taking chances and trying different musical styles that may not necessarily fit, but do we really need dub-remixes of Mule tunes? No matter, there are still lots of fun moments here; have a toke, you will need it either way.
Mighty High is out now on ATO Records.