Clutch – “Jam Room”

Clutch seems like the type of band I should have heard of before today.  No one can seem to slot Clutch clearly into a well defined genre, describing them as rock, Southern rock, stoner rock, and my favorite, funk metal.  Whatever you want to call it, I like it.  And one thing is for sure.  It is funky.

Clutch has been around since 1990 and they have 10 albums to their credit.  Originally released in 1999, Jam Room was their fourth LP – though the version I picked up today at Easy Street Records in Seattle was the 2008 re-release on orange and black vinyl under the Megaforce label.  The guy working the record section at Easy Street was glad to see it in my hand after I’d run across it in the new arrivals bin.  “I figured someone was going to pick that up before long.”  I’m glad I was the one.  This version includes three tracks that don’t appear on the original release:  “Drifter”, “I Send Pictures”, and “Sink ‘Em Low”.

There are some truly genius song titles on Jam Room.  It opens with an intro that asks the natural question, “Who Wants to Rock?”, but from there it gets weird.  I mean, who doesn’t want to find out what “Bertha’s Big Back Yard” is about (it’s a sung add for a fake business), and you may as well stick around and listen to the next track, “Gnome Enthusiast”.  The reverse of the cover includes a hand drawn picture of Medusa and her head full of snakes, which is appropriate given that side B opens with “Release the Kraken” (kids, keep in mind this came out way before Kraken dark rum ever existed… so the reference is to Greek mythology, or at the very least the super-awesome movie Clash of the Titans.  It is not a call to drink.  Though then again, as the quote goes, “If you’re thirsty a drink will cure it.  If you’re not, a drink will prevent it.”  That’s solid advice.  So maybe a Kraken and cola is in order after all.  You do what you need to do.).  In fact the song goes through the entire story of Perseus.

Is you stupid,
Or is you just high?

The vocals are low in the mix, and Neil Fallon has a low voice to begin with, which makes it challenging to discern the lyrics at times but conversely the singing blends really well with the music.  At one point I could swear he was referring to having a “smokestack full of black beans.”  And, well, maybe he was.   I’m not sure.

Well that’s just super duper,
Being pulled over by a Virginia State trooper… 

It’s heavy.  It’s funky.  It’s Southern sounding.  Maybe sort of Molly Hatchet meets Black Sabbath.  But with a bit of humor.  Did I mention that there is a heavy funk beat?  Funky!

This is hanging out and drinking tallboys kind of music.  Don’t take my word for it.  Try it for yourself and see.  Or maybe just release the Kraken…

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