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Clutch's Introduction To The Blues

Clutch bassist and blues fanatic Dan Maines gives us a brief introduction into the wonderful world of blues, including five songs you need on your iTunes right now!

The Importance Of Blues

“It’s important to know where rock ‘n’ roll comes from. If you’re a kid growing up listening to the radio and you hear Cream play Spoonful, and you fall in love with that band specifically because of that song, it would make you appreciate it even more to know the roots of where it came from. And that style of music is basically rock ‘n’ roll. The idea of jamming those 12-bar blues, you can take any popular rock ‘n’ roll song and see how it derives from that original format. It’s an important part of music that’s never going away. It’s a good starting point for any kind of music, we do it quite a bit as a band – we’ll mess around playing somebody else’s song then take a guitar lick as the basis for a Clutch song. It’s very inspirational music.”

The Beginner’s Guide

Howlin’ Wolf

“If you’re talking about blues music that has influenced Clutch as a band, Howlin’ Wolf is probably top of the list. But that’s basic rock ‘n’ roll fodder for a lot of bands, going back to Cream. We even did a cover of Who’s Been Talkin’. But he just writes great songs, although I think most of his hits were written by Willie Dixon – the bass player – who probably wrote 70% of Chess Records material.”

Lead Belly

“I like listening to a lot of Lead Belly. He’s got a really cool style of unusual melodies – it’s actually pretty complex but it has that distinct sound that he’s playing a 12-string guitar. He did a song called Governor Pat Neff that was written for a warden while he was in jail. He was serving a long period of time and they allowed him to have a guitar in his cell because everyone enjoyed listening to him play. If I can remember the story right, he wrote this song and played it specifically for the purpose of having the warden hear it and be swayed into giving him an early release. And I think it worked.”

John Lee Hooker

“John Lee Hooker is an obvious one. His voice is hypnotic, it’s just so deep and very commanding without really having to raise his voice. He’s stern but also has a very mellow sound to it.”

Muddy Waters

“Listen to anything from Electric Mud by Muddy Waters. It’s probably one of my favourite records – blues-wise anyway. It has that cool production style that embraces a rock, almost psychedelic, approach toward recording a blues artist. Buddy Guy did a similar thing with Sweet Tea – those songs are amazing as well. Any track off that record is sick.”

Little Freddie King

“There’s a dude out in New Orleans called Little Freddie King, he’s a guitar player. He reminds me a lot of RL Burnside. I think he does a version of Crawling King Snake too that’s really great.”

Luke Morton
Faux Northerner. Online Editor for Metal Hammer. Host and Producer of the Metal Hammer Podcast. A bigger Simpsons fan than you.