Ok, just to get the answer out of the way first – no. Gov’t Mule is not a contender for the best cover band ever. I’d put them in roughly the same category as the Dead (and they do tend to play together, amusingly covering a Metallica tune together, and Sugaree) as cover artists – jam band, excellent covers. But unlike the Ramones, Nirvana, etc – not really definitive or radical re-interpretations that give pause to the originals. (Chris – feel free to disagree and make your case.)
But still, Gov’t Mule is totally fucking ace, primarily due to the awesomeness of Warren Haynes. I first heard of Warren about a decade ago when watching a taped Allman Bros. at the Beacon concert. (Has anyone done a post on the end of the Allmans at the Beacon? Tragic.) Even with the amazing Derek Trucks on guitar, Warren still stood stood out with his blues guitar work. (He’s a full time member of the Allman Bros, as well as front man for his own Gov’t Mule.) When Warren sang, i got kind of bummed when it was Gregg’s turn to sing again.
So an appreciation then. Not everyone can convincingly cover James Brown, Sabbath, Neil Young, Metallica, the Stones, the Dead, Led Zep, Humble Pie, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, and many, many more.
If anyone wants to make a case for their own choice for the Best Cover Band Ever, feel free to do your own post.