(Eastwest Records 9 May 1995)
After reviewing a few Platinum Anniversary albums that didn’t hold up well over time, it’s great to find one that I still love as much as the day I first listened to it. Clutch was never the biggest band in the world, and they probably never will be. If you’ve heard one song it’s either from 2004’s Blast Tyrant or this self titled release. But the beauty of underground bands is that they always give their fans a feeling that they’re the only ones who know about them.
So shit. Why am I sharing this?
Wikipedia lists the genre as “alternative metal, funk metal, psychedelic rock, stoner rock” and that seems to sum it up pretty well. When you pop this album in and hit play it’s apparent from the start that the riff is king. That slow rolling bass groove on “Big News I” just lures you in… “The fog is rolling in, the tide is high,” Neil Fallon sings setting the mood for the next hour. Damn, just thinking about it makes me want a bong hit.
My favorite track is “Texan Book of the Dead” with it’s immortal chorus of:
Sure, they stole it from the Chipmunks, but I don’t care. I like it better this way.
“Escape From The Prison Planet” showed up in John Carpenter’s “Escape From LA.” I’ve seen the band live a few times and I’m always surprised to see Fallon belt out the chorus to that song by himself. If you listen to the record it sounds like the whole band is crowded around a mic doing gang vocals, but when you see them live it’s just the one dude shouting really, really loud. And it sounds just like the record. “Spacegrass” is another pot song, this time you’re stoned and cruising around in a ’73 Dodge… or is it a spaceship? I always forget. Either way it’s a helluva ride. Whatever feels right, eh?
While it’s easy to see where lyrical inspiration for a song like “Animal Farm” came from I wonder what kind of warped mind could think up “I Have The Body of John Wilkes Booth.” I’ve written some oddball songs, but it never crossed my mind to write a tune about finding the body of a famed assassin. I guess that’s why I don’t make the big bucks.
They throw in another few solid tunes. “Tight Like That” is exceptionally tight and features enough groove to slide a ball bearing down. Then they end the album with a little jamming. Clutch is a rare band in that they can write really catchy and solid three minute rockers and then just jam out on “Seven Jam” and “Tim Sult vs. The Greys” to close their album. Most bands can only do one or the other, but every now and again a band comes along that can do both with equal aplomb.
And we thank them for that.
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I was hoping to make it to Rock on the Range this year, but the ticket prices are a tad too high for me. Not to fear though, I’ll still cash in on the events popularity by digging up this unpublished review from the vault that I did way back in 2009. Hope you enjoy!
Columbus Crews stadium is close enough to the freeway that with the windows rolled down you can hear the bands playing on the way to the venue, which is great because you’re rocking before you’re parking. A gentleman with a couch on wheels pulled us to the front gate on a bicycle. Once inside we were surrounded by all the summer festival staples: bongs, t-shirts, overpriced food, portable toilets, and an ATM in a van. I loved the irony of seeing roaming beer vendors soliciting in the child play area. But we weren’t interested in elephant ears or $4 bottled water, we wanted rock! And rock we received.
I kicked off my day in a pit; from there it was a nonstop journey across three stages watching dozens of bands. The sky was overcast but anyone who’s ever been to an outdoor festival will tell you that this is preferential to blue skies. The clouds block out the sun’s heat and keep the day cool. Plus stage lights would have been asinine on a sunny day. The open-air stadium was a great place to see a show. The staircases and landings offered multiple views of the side stages. We even headed up to the nosebleed section and turned around to get a bird’s eye view.
Once Flyleaf took the main stage the clouds parted and the sun broke through, proving once and for all that Christian bands are good for something. But the clouds would not be deterred for long and soon the rains fell. Solid drops only lasted about five minutes but a light mist persisted throughout Chevelle’s set. The drizzle didn’t last long and a few women took the opportunity to remove their wet tops during All That Remains. (The singer for All That Remains tried to make a grand entrance by running onto and leaping on the stage. The rain made the stage a little slippery and he ended up slipping on his face). I usually have to shove dollars into garters to see so many boobies! The crowd was crazy at this show; I even saw a wheelchair that had to get in on the crowd surfing action.
After a scrape on the knee and a few kicks to the head we found some great seats for Alice in Chains. The question of the day was how well could the new guy sing these songs? William Duvall filled Layne Staley’s shoes so well he should be submitted to weekly drug screens. And even if he passes he should be sent to rehab! The only downside to seeing this classic band was that the wind blowing through the arena prevented me from holding up my lighter during “Rooster.” (During which they were joined by Duff McKagan)
After ten straight hours of bouncing back and forth between the stages and having to pick and choose between bands playing simultaneously it was nice to relax a bit and check out the great view of the Columbus skyline the stadium offers. Once Slipknot hit the stage the night was over. We sat in the bleachers and watched the crowd bounce back and forth, savoring the last moments of our day at Rock on the Range.
8 May 1995 (Reprise)
Though I’ve had Filter’s debut in my collection for close to it’s entire 20 year existence, I just realized the other day that I’ve probably only listened to it a half dozen times.
Then I put it on and realized why. It’s one of those albums with a few killer tunes, but when you let it play through most of the tracks blend into each other. I’m not saying it’s a bad album, but it could use a little more variety.
Unless you were deaf for the second half of the nineties you’ve heard the opener “Hey Man, Nice Shot.” It was featured in the movies The Cable Guy, Tales From The Crypt’s Demon Knight and even made it onto an episode of the X Files. I’m not sure if Congress passed a law to give Filter more exposure or if it’s just that the song rocks so hard. It is without a doubt the best track on the album. Going from that slow, quiet bass driven verse into the screaming-myself-hoarse chorus is a huge kick in the pants that makes me want to slam dance just thinking about it.
I also really like “Dose,” but I think it’s mostly just for the line “I hate it when you preach your case, it makes me want to stick my dick in your face.” One of the highlights of the album is those sort of juvenile lyrics about genitalia and hooks featuring the word ‘asshole.’ “Gerbil” is a solid track and “Stuck in Here” breaks things up by being an acoustic track, but overall it sounds like a full version of Nine Inch Nails’ Broken with more emphasis on guitars. I was thinking that I really liked the album closer “So Cool,” but I actually had that confused with “The Missing” from The Amalgamut.
Honestly, I feel bad giving Short Bus such a bad review. I really like Filter and I always have, but they definitely didn’t have it all together right out of the gate. I haven’t listened to their most recent releases, but Title of Record and The Amalgamut were much better albums. If you’re looking to get into this band, I’d start there.
And you have to give Richard Patrick some props for going out on his own and emerging not only from Trent Reznor’s gargantuan shadow, but also achieving success away from his brother, T-1000 Robert Patrick. I can’t think of a lot of sidemen who have left successful bands to have successful careers. Dave Grohl and the Eagles are the only exceptions. Even Patrick’s band mates in Army of Anyone (STP’s DeLeo brothers) have never managed to have any sort of success very far away from Scott Weiland.
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Happy Star Wars day everybody! But being a Kent State alumnus, May 4th has a bit of a different significance for me.
As the video says: It’s unclear whether the soldiers were given the order to shoot or not, but only the only states in the country where the National Guard used live ammunition at the time were Alaska and Ohio. Seems like a good way to stifle the antiwar sentiments raging on college campuses across the country to me.
At a time like this, it’s very important that we don’t forget.
I can still remember the first time I heard With Teeth because I made it to one of the listening parties held before the album came out. It seems kind of silly today that we hopped in the car and drove 90 miles to listen to a record at a concert venue, but after the six year wait since The Fragile and the fact that there really wasn’t much else to do it makes perfect sense. It doesn’t seem like doing that kind of promotion would be successful now that we have Pandora, Spotify, Last FM and who knows how many other venues for artists to get their music out there, but if there was another chance today I’d probably go. It’s fun to get out and be around like minded people with similar tastes in music.
The other thing I’ve taken away from that listening party is the first time I heard “All The Love In The World.” It’s a quiet track at the beginning; mostly just bass and turntables. But when the line “No one’s heard a single word I’ve said” came on I had to laugh because it was the first line I was able to make out. Of course, the song picks up speed with percussion, guitars and layered, double tracked vocals, but even a decade later I still remember that.
If you ask me, this is the last really good Nine Inch Nails album. Every other song on it is a masterpiece and the ones in between aren’t chopped liver either. “You Know What You Are?” features some of the patented Reznor rage with him screaming “Don’t you fucking know what you are?” The first single, “The Hand That Feeds,” was the first time I’d heard NIN take on outside problems instead of the crippling depression and self loathing that characterized the first three albums.
My favorite track is definitely “Everyday Is Exactly The Same.” I guess something about the song really appealed to me (and still does) as a lower-middle-class drone tirelessly plugging away 40 hours a week. The awesome bass line is another major draw. I can’t believe I hadn’t seen the video before embedding it in this post, but I suppose the fact that it is really dull and features a subquality mix of the song explains my missing it. “Only” is a synthy pseudo-rap with some insane drums and a singalong chorus. I’m sure the David Fincher directed video didn’t hurt it’s popularity.
I still like all of the other tunes on the album, but these 4 have always been my favorites. Probably because they’re more upbeat and rocking than some of the other songs. The best thing about With Teeth as opposed to other NIN albums is that with Dave Grohl’s involvement and the copious use of guitar and bass it sounds more like a real band. I don’t mean to suggest that masterpieces such as Broken or The Downward Spiral were made by a pretend band, but With Teeth sounds a lot less like it was created by one guy in a little studio.
Another favorite aspect of the album is when the songs reference back to earlier works. “Only” features the lyrics “Well the tiniest little dot caught my eye…” echoing a similar line in Pretty Hate Machine‘s “Down In It.” “Sunspots” has Reznor saying “nothing can stop me now” from The Downward Spiral.
I’m still up in the air as to whether “Right Where It Belongs” is a better album closer than “Hurt.” I suppose it would be best to say they were both perfect closers for their respective albums. “Right Where It Belongs” is definitely in my top 5 NIN’s songs. Something about Trent Reznor at a keyboard with a simple melody and a simple lyric is better to me than all of the bells and whistles (and arranging, performance, production, engineering, 5.1 surround mix, sound design, all instrumentals & instrumentation) all over the rest of the album.
Maybe there are so many great closers to NIN albums because Reznor knows that in the end – it’s all about the song.