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From Beale Street to Oblivion

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  • If you want to hear the definition of tight, this is the album. Road hardened as all Hell, Clutch has managed to produce the most amazing neo-blues album ever. This is the most dirty album I have heard in a while, and it’s refreshing. Most of the tracks on here sound as if they should have been written by blues greats like “Howlin’” Wolf, Tennessee Williams, and Muddy Waters. Instead, Neil Fallon shows his lyrical love of the blues by paying homage through his own words. On “You Can’t Stop Progress” he lets us know that “I understand there are no victimless crimes, that being said, I feel rather victimized”. On “Electric Worry” the catchy hook “Bang Bang Bang Bang…Vamanoose Vamanoose” reminded me of when they played this live, six months before the release of this album. Now I look back and feel as if I was a small part of rock history as they honed this tune live. There are so many other examples that I could site, but I don’t want to leave the rest of the band out.

    Though I was initally disappointed that there was no jam session for the last track, I now understand that this album was meant to highlight the entire band. Tim Sult,on lead guitar, manages to impress by the notes he doesn’t play. This is the sign of a truly mature musician. When he does pull out a solo, they’re at times minimalistic, which speaks to his character. I have to say, that despite how much I love the sound of his guitar on such greats as “Tim Sult vs. The Greys”, “(Notes From the Trial of) La Curandera” and “Swampt Boot Upside Down”. That does not mean that Sult lacks in any area. The tightness of the turnaround blues of “Child of the City” is reminiscent of “Black Dog” by Led Zeppelin. Also, whichever band mate is playing the slide guitar on “Black Umbrella” reminds us of the classic blues riffs of days long past.

    If you are a bass player, listen to this album. Again, Dan Maines is tight and proves that he’s worthy to be called a “Master of the Electric Bass”. Maines does an amazing job from the turnaround blues on “Child of the City” to driving the bass of “Mr. Shiny Caddylackness”. This is a complete album that will challenge you, and let you learn the basics of blues.

    The drums by, Jean-Paul Master, and organs by Mick Schauer play a laid back role on this album. Master has shown his greatness on songs such as “Droid” (all future drummers out there, listen to this song so you know why you should learn your rudiments), but takes on the classic role of drummer in this venture. This is not to say he is not impressive. Master drives the songs with a unrelenting yet semi-subdued force, again, a testament to the bands musical maturity. Schauer also does an excellent job adding color to the music. In Clutch’s prevous venture “Robot Hive/Exodus”, Schauer’s first album with the band, he was showcased on many songs to show that he was a worthy addition to the band. And on this album, he proves it again by accenting and giving a warm undertone to the simple genious of the songs.

    In all, this album is a definite pick up. There is not a bad song in the bunch, and I would have gladly paid twice what I did. Why this band hasn’t gained commercial success is obvious, they are too sophisticated for modern pop music. From the thickness of the grooves to the lyrical insanity, Clutch has once again proven that they are the best band in the last 20 years.

    Hope that was helpfull,


    Posted on December 26, 2009