Clutch – From Beale Street To Oblivion

   2007 DRT

This is the second modern Clutch album that didn’t absolutely blow me away, simply because I’ve now accepted the fact that they’ve found their thang and each new release is going to deliver the goods just like a fresh bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken.   You’ve tasted the Colonel’s eleven secret herbs and spices a million times over already, and you always come back for more…and it always tastes great.

Clutch’s “thang” is a sound that takes all the best elements of the classic rock guitar vibe (courtesy of Mr. Tim Sult), batters it with the impossibly perfect groove of bassist Dan Maines and drummer Jean-Paul Gaster, then dunks it in the deep-fryer that is surreal headspace of lead vocalist/master lyricist Neil Fallon.  Here, they also throw in just the right touches of old-school keys and harmonica.  Really, the band’s ace-in-the-hole has always been Fallon…a genius wordsmith whose lyrics are always worth reading and will always make you crack a smile.

It’s hard to really pick out specific high points, this being yet another Clutch album that simply belongs on your media player on shuffle play.   Lead single “Electric Worry” pays super homage to legend John Lee Hooker, while “You Can’t Stop Progress” starts things off with a resounding kick in the pants and a great example of Fallon’s lyrical genius (“I understand there are no victimless crimes.  That being said I’m feeling rather victimized.”).  WOW!  “Power Player,” “The Devil and Me,” “Opossum Minister” and the hilarious “When Vegans Attack” are more highlights on this fun and imaginative disc.

My only complaint is that Tim Sult’s guitar sound isn’t quite as edgy and punchy as on the last 3 albums.  Rather than cutting through the mix, it kind of floats within it.   Maybe that was the point.  I dunno, but I’ll just give these guys the benefit of the doubt because it’s just another fine batch of songs from the greatest American rock band of the 21st century.

As the title rightfully suggests, this is the Clutch album most fully steeped in the spirit of the blues.   Blues made all the more appetizing by Clutch’s uncanny knack for adding the perfect amount of southern fried chicken grease.  Hey, I think I already said that about another Clutch album.  Oh well…just buy it.

Rating:  4.5 out of 5

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