Saturday, September 28, 2013

Clutch – From Beale Street to Oblivion

Here's the latest in the new (old), banned reviews: Clutch's 2007 opus From Beale Street to Oblivion. I published the original post a few weeks after the release of Strange Cousins From the West, so that's was I was alluding to in the opening paragraph. Speaking of which, what did I say back in 2009?

From Beale Street to Oblivion

Clutch is a prolific band. As a matter of fact, as I write this, Clutch just finished writing, recording and releasing a new double LP. Okay, they’re not that prolific, but they keep pumping out new records. I was going to call From Beale Street to Oblivion the new Clutch, but that’s no longer true. So, here’s a newer Clutch album from 2007.

From Beale Street to Oblivion shares the metallic racket of the self-titled album but it retains the demented, smoked-out blues-rock Clutch crafted during this past decade. It’s the perfect mix of this band’s old and new sounds.

Is it better than Blast Tyrant or Robot Hive/Exodus? They all rule. Where have you been? Clutch is one of the all-time greats and all of their material is mandatory listening.

So, did anything change between then and now? Oh, yes. Yes, things changed for Clutch.

Beginning in the Fall of 2009, a track on the LP (number six to be exact) unexpectedly started climbing the charts. With "Electric Worry", Clutch scored a Top 40 hit after 19 years of slugging it out in dive bars and van tours. "Electric Worry" peaked at #38 on the Singles Chart while From Beale Street to Oblivion reached #4 on the Independent Albums Chart and #52 on the Billboard Top 40 Album Chart. Not bad for some weirdos from Maryland.

...And it wasn't just hit singles and album sales. All of the sudden, Hollywood fell in love with Clutch; starting with this album. They were marginalized or flatly ignored to this point but things changed after "Electric Worry." First, the video became a hit on MTV. You've seen this before, right? Somebody did. It's sitting at slightly under six million views.

The single was used in commercials for the video game Left 4 Dead 2 and the TV series Memphis Beat. It was even used as the goal-scoring song by the Vancouver Canucks.

...And it didn't stop there. Proving themselves no one-hit wonder, Clutch has had two songs featured in AMC's The Walking Dead ("The Regulator" and "Gone Cold"). "50,000 Unstoppable Watts" and "Escape From the Prison Planet" are frequently used as bumper music on talk radio shows across the country. Clutch was featured on an episode of the reality show Ace of Cakes (the vocalist's sister is one of the bakers). They've had over a dozen singles appear on video game and movie soundtracks. Basically, Clutch is one of those overnight success stories that was two decades in the making.

So, what's changed in four years? Clutch broke into the mainstream. They did it without selling out and they deserve every iota of their success. As Clutch proves conclusively, it ain't over until it's over. Never give up.

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