Archive for the Clutch Category

Clutch – Live at the 9:30 Club (DVD)

Posted in Clutch on March 21, 2011 by moosejuice

2010 Weathermaker Music

(note:  I wrote this right after the release of this DVD last year, but noticed that I saved it as a draft and never posted it.  Sorry…)

Being the total Clutch homer that I am, I pre-ordered my copy of this…just so I could get my own 2-foot long Clutch logo sticker which I now proudly display in my studio:) Clutch is the band that turns me into a 15-year-old again…when nothing mattered but music.

If you buy into the Clutch thang, you’ll undoubtedly be happy with this. First, you have the live show which clocks in at around 90 minutes. Clutch is a machine live…and you never know what the set list will be from show to show. Unlike so many corporate bands (Def Leppard comes to mind in a big way), Clutch doesn’t forsake their early material when it comes to their live shows.

In fact they celebrate it…and it’s testimony to their songwriting that early songs like “A Shogun Named Marcus,” “The House that Peterbilt,” and “Escape from the Prison Planet” sound even better today in a live setting with Clutch’s modern deep-fried groove and resident vocabularian Neil Fallon’s more melodic vocal stylings.

The latter song is on this DVD in full-force as our fave Maryland boys play their self-titled 1995 disc in its entirety in this live set. 1995’s Clutch album is a bit of an underground classic, but I never truly appreciated the songs until I heard them live. Truth is, I always felt the production on that album was way too thin…but man do these songs just burn live and it’s such a kick to hear a rabid crowd singing along to “Escape…,” “Spacegrass,” and my two faves “Rock and Roll Outlaw” and “I Have the Body of John Wilkes Booth.”

I could go on and on…and most of my friends are probably tired of me talking about Clutch. Lol   Just a wonderful band and a wonderful live document here.

The second CD is a 100+ minute documentary following Clutch on the road with both band and fan interviews. Loads of fun with a band that’s unbelievably humble considering how good they are. Listening to Jean-Paul “The Master” Gaster talk about drums is mesmerizing. A lot of thought goes into the sounds both he and the entire band make.

This is a band that cares.

We all should.

Rating:   5 out of 5

Clutch – King of Arizona (LIVE)

Posted in Clutch on December 19, 2009 by moosejuice

I just discovered this gem on YouTube.    From the sound of this and “The Dragonfly,” they should release this show as a live disc.

Just another example of why Clutch is my favorite band.   Just plain magic.

Enjoy Abysmally…

Clutch – The Dragonfly (live video)

Posted in Clutch on September 18, 2009 by moosejuice

There’s just something about this song that does it for me.  Studio version on The Elephant Riders CD is good, but live this song just smokes.  Tim Sult’s guitar intro is just too cool, then the band kicks in.  Enjoy…and check out the lyrics while you do.   Just brilliant!

Lyrics to The Dragonfly:

Could’ve been a swan on a glassy lake.
Could’ve been a gull in a clipper’s wake.
Could’ve been a ladybug on a windchime,
but she was born a dragonfly.

In the sun she warmed her wings
and listened to the cicadas sing.

“The trees are all bending
in one direction
because of something…”

Cross-pollination by the legs of bees in the spring
is a beautiful thing.
Oh when the sun goes down,
the fireflies come out.

In a pond crept a slimy thing
that hummed a theme from the Rites of Spring.

Pity the mate of Queen Mantis,
so content, but so headless.
Katydid nothing but shiver and cry,
as did the dragonfly.

In the shade the gypsies spin
Among the cloves, they drop their skin.

“…beyond the hedgegrove,
over by the willows,
deep in the shadows…”

Regeneration occurs at a furious speed
beneath the white oak tree.
Oh when the sun comes up
the moon buds fold up.

In the sun she warmed her wings
and listened to the Rites of Spring

Could’ve been a swan on a glassy lake.
Could’ve been a gull in a clipper’s wake.
Could’ve been a ladybug on a windchime,
but she was born a dragonfly.

Clutch – Strange Cousins From The West

Posted in Clutch on July 23, 2009 by moosejuice

clutch-strange-cousins-from-the-west 2009 Weathermaker

I’ve been waiting for what seems like forever for this disc to be released, and it seems like it’s taken me forever to get around to reviewing it.

First things first:  I’ve been a self-admitted Clutch homer since 2001’s “Pure Rock Fury” and personally they’re my favorite band.  That being said, this disc is much more the slow-grower than previous releases for my Abysmal ears.   Whereas I felt their last album “From Beale Street To Oblivion” was loaded with hooks while the guitar sound was more fuzzy than biting, the guitar cuts through the mix on “Strange Cousins…” in a way that’s reminiscent of the “Robot Hive” disc…probably due to the same producer overseeing things here.  Excellent choice.

At first I was rather underwhelmed, as none of the songs (save for instant classic “Struck Down”) reached out and grabbed me the way numerous songs on “Blast Tyrant,” “Pure Rock Fury” and “Robot Hive – Exodus” did on the first listen.   Then as I listened more, I was drawn in by the textures and subtleties of the music at hand and reached the conclusion that what we have here is yet another solid disc by truly great band.

The rhythm section of Jean-Paul Gaster (drums) and Dan Maines (bass) takes over right off the bat with the jazzy and labyrinthal timekeeping of opener “Motherless Child,” and lays down a furious funky groove immediately afterward on “Struck Down” before you can even catch your breath.

The riffs are cool and very much steeped in 70’s rock, but what is really evident upon repeated listens is guitarist Tim Sult’s playful manipulation of sound textures while keeping the riffs quite meaty overall.   Keeping with their working-man’s cool image, they throw in an excellent cover tune by Argentinian group Poppo’s Blues Band “Algo Ha Cambiado,” sung entirely in Spanish by the one-and-only Neil Fallon who sounds strangely comfortable singing in Poppo’s native tongue.   Rounding out the proceedings is knee-slapper “Sleestak Lightning,” with the trademark Clutch groove laying the foundation for Fallon’s always intelligent and amusing witicisms.  To wit:

West Virginia has its Moth Man,
Pan handlers’ got their Skunk Ape.
But I have a tazer and night vision goggles,
Costco rolls of black duct tape.
It’s got red eyes, it’s got razor claws,
It’s got green skin, no it ain’t a meth-head.
And after studying its behavior, objectively and critically,
I believe I have a reliable method.

Clutch once again is a world unto themselves and well worth the visit.

Rating:  4.5 out of 5

CLICK HERE to buy Strange Cousins from the West

Clutch – The Elephant Riders

Posted in Clutch on May 28, 2009 by moosejuice

Elephant   1998 Columbia/Sony

If you’ve spent much time in the Abyss, you’ve probably figured out that Clutch is pretty much my favorite band ever…possessing all the elements I love about really great rock music.   The grooves, the guitars (LOTS of guitar), hooks and undeniable intelligence…it’s all here.

While Clutch really hit their stride with Pure Rock Fury, The Elephant Riders is the album where they really started to hone in on the elements that make them so unique.   Many Clutch fans regard this as their best disc, while I personally reserve that designation for Blast Tyrant or Robot Hive/Exodus, mostly because the production on this disc isn’t quite to my sonic liking.

Nonetheless, the songs are most definitely there, and I’ve gained a new appreciation for this and Clutch’s earlier releases after hearing them in the live context (see Full Fathom Five).   The hilarious visual of Civil War soldiers riding into battle astride elephants pretty much says it all.   This is music that exists for the pure joy of sound, and if you care to dig beneath the surface you will find layer after layer of intelligence and humor that are well worth your time.

The strength of the riffs is undeniable, songs like “The Soapmakers” and “The Yeti” just enjoyable beyond belief even before you dig into the lyrics.   Everything good about classic rock is on display here, including eclectic variety on songs like “Green Buckets” and “Wishbone,” the latter containing one of many funny Neil Fallon musings.  To wit:  For Thanksgiving we had taters, succotash and rutabegas.

The only other person I know of to use the word “rutabega” in a song was Frank Zappa on “Duchess of  Prunes” (from Absolutely Free), and that’s pretty good company to say the least.

I’ve gotta give props to “Ship of Gold” as the first Clutch song I can remember really sinking my teeth into.   Living in Dallas when this was released, I remember listening to this track over an over and just being mezmerized by the groove.   I just simply had never heard anything quite like it.

The crown jewel of this thoroughly entertaining carnival of sound, though, is my favorite Clutch song of all time “The Dragonfly,” which paints a captivating picture of the rites of spring from the point of view of a newly hatched dragonfly:  Oh in the sun she warms her wings, and listens to cicadas sing.   Or how ’bout …trees are all bendin’ in one direction, because of somethin’ – cross-pollination on the legs of bees in spring, it’s a beautiful thing.  There’s just no other band that can pull this off with such total conviction.   This song, however, is best experienced in the live context as a superb opening call-to-arms on the fierce Full Fathom Five live CD/DVD.

There’s really not a bad Clutch album in the whole bunch, and if you want to dig deeper into their back catalogue (pre-Pure Rock Fury) this is a great place to start, The Elephant Riders offering song after song of memorable hooks and sheer fun.

Rating:   4 out of 5

Clutch – Full Fathom Five (DVD)

Posted in Clutch on February 6, 2009 by moosejuice

clutch1 (2008 Weathermaker)

If you’ve spent much time in the Abyss, you’ve probably figured out that Clutch, Swell and The Tea Party are my favorite bands.  We all have those bands whose albums we don’t need to hear before we buy them.  We buy them because we know they’re going to satisfy every time.  These are three of mine and Clutch just seems to be an unstoppable freight train.

I’ve watched this disc so many times…even let it play on after I’ve fallen asleep late at night.   Song after song just relentlessly grooves and captivates you with riffs you can just chew on forever.   If you’re looking for flash and hype (hey, I still love watching the old KISS concerts from back in the day), you won’t find any here.

What you will find is a guitarist (Tim Sult) in total command of his style, a lead vocalist (Neil Fallon) who is incomparably intelligent and incommand of his vocabulary, and a rhythm section (Jean-Paul Gaster on drums and Dan Maines on bass) who is the most underrated in rock.   I used to say that about Matt Cameron and Ben Shepherd of Soundgarden before that great band sadly broke up.  I mean Gaster and Maines are just relentless and on the money to the point where I have to think Fallon and Sult just couldn’t be any more comfortable in their respective roles.   I’ve never seen anyone get more out of a simple jazz kit than Gaster.    I just don’t think there’s anyone better.

The song selection is very satisfying, although I could have used more from “Pure Rock Fury.”    The DVD opener “The Dragonfly” (from The Elephant Riders CD) really sets the tone and sounds better than the fine studio version.

If you’re a Clutch fan already, you MUST own this.  If you’re not a Clutch fan, it’s a fine introduction to the otherworldly machine known as Clutch.

The greatest rock band of the 21st Century.

CLICK HERE TO BUY Full Fathom Five: Video Field Recordings 2007-2008 THROUGH AMAZON.COM

UPDATE 3/3/09:   Just saw these guys (finally!) live for the first time two nights ago at the Chameleon Club in Lancaster.  Wow.  The place was packed and Clutch just took over.  I remember leaving very satisfied with the songs in the set that night (opener “I Have The Body of John Wilkes Booth” just blew the roof off the place and set the tone) while at the same time noticing the absence of some of my faves like “Escape From the Prison Planet,” “Pure Rock Fury,” and “The Soapmakers.”   These guys have so many good songs there’s no possible way they could play them all in one show.   While they may not be as huge as Phish, Clutch shares that characteristic with that band and, like Phish, delivers time after time for their fans.   If this is how Phish Heads feel about their favorite band, I understand now after watching this DVD countless times (and still running) and finally going to a live show.  I’m hooked now more than ever.

Clutch – From Beale Street To Oblivion

Posted in Clutch on May 3, 2008 by moosejuice

   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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