Straddling the concepts of modern Southern rock and vintage psychedelia with his most formidable power trio, Warren Haynes is a guitar god with vision and precision. Serving an artistic apprenticeship as guitar counterpoint for Dickey Betts and the Allman Brothers Band for almost a decade before going full time with the Mule, Haynes has also proved to be one of the more accomplished six-stringers to emerge from the New South in many a year. While Haynes often sang and contributed original material with the ABB, he was forced to subjugate his formidable musical range in the name of the hallowed Allman institution. Now, with three albums and countless live shows under their collective belts, Haynes, bassist Allen Woody and drummer Matt Abts go for broke with this double disc. Recorded live in Atlanta, Georgia, on New Year's Eve 1998, this offering displays Haynes' overpowering guitar chops as well as calling in some favors from his extended musical family. Whether churning out down-and-dirty blues or post-Hendrix indulgences, Haynes has always been the consummate ax-handler. On informed cover versions of Black Sabbath's "War Pigs," Neil Young's "Cortez the Killer" and Mongo Santamaria's "Afro-Blue," he shows true performance savvy and gets the most out of guests like Chuck Leavell, ex-Black Crowe Marc Ford and guitar-wunderkind Derrek Trucks. Employing jazzy overtones on the extended instrumentals and submitting a smokin' version of "Thirty Days in the Hole" for your approval, Gov't Mule is carrying the hard-rock torch with obvious pride. Somewhere in heaven, Duane Allman is smiling.