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Mule's brand of sloppy, whiskey-drenched backwoods punk has a similar feel to the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, though vocalist and guitarist P.W. Long's affinity for the Southern hillbillies of traditional country (as well as the shouty forms of Captain Beefheart) gives him a different slant than Spencer's blues- and R&B-influenced shouting. Originally, Long was named Preston Cleveland, and after playing in Detroit's Wig until 1991 (appearing only on the EP Lying Next to You), he formed Mule with bassist Kevin Munro (aka Kevin Strickland) and drummer Jim Kimball, both from Ann Arbor's Laughing Hyenas (whose frontman, John Brannon, is Long/Cleveland's brother). The trio's self-titled debut, released in 1992 by Chicago's Quarterstick Records, was a raucous record full of Long's throaty shouting and bluesy hooks, produced by Steve Albini. After Kimball left to join the Dennison-Kimball Trio, Daniel Jacob Wilson stepped in on drums, and the new trio recorded the Wrung EP and, later in 1994, If I Don't Six. The second LP lacked just a bit of the energy of Mule's debut, but made up for the deficiency with an increased sense of musicianship and several great songs. It was the last album for the trio, though, as Long disassembled Mule to begin playing solo shows in 1996 before forming another band. Always known for picking instrumentalists with more than enough energy to suit his powerful recordings, Long recruited drummer Mac McNeilly (from the Jesus Lizard) and bassist Dan Maister to form P.W. Long's Reelfoot. The group released We Didn't See You on Sunday in mid-1997.
© John Bush /TiVo
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