Warren Haynes may be the hardest working man in music today. A man who plays more than 300 nights a year deserves to at least be nominated for the imaginary award. Chances are though that most of you probably don’t even know who he is. I’ll bet you’ve heard him though.
Haynes broke into the music business in 1980 as the guitarist for David Allan Coe. He has been one of the two lead guitarists for the Allman Brothers Band (with the exception of a short time in the late 90’s), the frontman of Gov’t Mule, an on again-off again member of The Dead throughout the 2000’s, the founder and host for the annual Christmas Jam since 1989 and a guest on more albums and at more live shows than you can possibly count. In 2003, Rolling Stone chose him as the 23rd best guitarist of all time.
It’s amazing with all of this work he had time to write and record Man In Motion. One thing is for sure though, when he decides to put something together, he doesn’t do it half way. His goal with this album was to do something different than the southern/jam music associated with the Allmans and the much harder edge of Mule. His inspiration and first love of music was found through old soul music. He wanted to capture that style and feel and put his mark on it.
He started with a label and got Stax Records to sign on. Then he put together a band of absolute superstars: George Porter, Jr. on bass, Ivan Neville on keyboard and vocals, both from The Meters, second keyboardist Ian McLagan from The Faces, Texas guitar-slinger David Grissom on rhythm guitar, Ron Holloway on sax, Terence Higgins on drums and Ruthie Foster with backing vocals.
Man In Motion is 10 tracks (9 original) of raw, vulnerable soul. It is not a drive-thru album with the average length of a song at over 6:00. Fans of Haynes will appreciate that because it gives him and the other musician some time to flex their musical chops. The opening and title track does that and sets the tone for the whole album. At just under 8:00, “Man in Motion” opens up with Porter’s strong bass line and some wah-wah rhythm guitar. Drop in the organ play and Haynes playing over the top, throw in some horns and you have a recipe for a very tasty morsel.
Each song goes in a slightly different direction, whether it’s the gospel feel of “Take a Bullet” or the powerful closer “Save Me,” or the bluesy “Your Wildest Dreams.” You get the feel that there was a lot of openness in the studio to let the musicians go as compared to writing and scripting every little piece and recording it separately. The second half of the uplifting “River’s Gonna Rise” sounds just that way. There’s a point where it sounds like the song might wind down until the Haynes takes it up a notch and these professional musicians follow him down the path.
“Sick of my Shadow” and “On a Really Lonely Night” drop a bluesy- funk in a way that is both very new and yet so comfortable for Haynes fans. It fits him like a glove. The closest thing to a Mule tune on this album would be “Hattiesburg Hustle” with that distinctive slow blues style that Haynes has used throughout the Gov’t Mule catalog.
Man In Motion is an album that fans of Stax Records, Warren Haynes or any of the other bands he’s been associated with has been dying to hear. Stripped away from the other “group” identities, this is Warren pure and simple…and it is worth every single second.
By Victor AlfieriWarren Haynes – Man In Motion by MMMusic