With no less than 11 brilliant studio albums to their name – not to mention a couple of equally outstanding rarities albums – selecting the top ten Clutch tunes of all time is an all but impossible task. It is, however, a great excuse to listen to all of them again, so what the hell, let’s give it a go!
10) Binge And Purge (Transnational Speedway League: Anthems, Anecdotes, And Undeniable Truths, 1993)
We may as well kick off with something heavy, and it doesn’t get much heavier than this, the third track from Clutch’s debut album, which earned them a parental advisory sticker for the repeated use of the word “motherfucker”. From the band’s early hardcore days, it is, quite simply, music to kill people to.
9) Careful With That Mic (Pure Rock Fury, 2001)
This tongue-in-cheek tongue-twister about bad rappers was alleged to have been written about Fred Durst – something that has been denied by Clutch frontman Neil Fallon – but whatever the case, it is, like many Clutch tunes, a lyrical masterpiece. Just try saying “practice scholastic aptitude test” after a couple of beers if you really think it’s that easy!
8) Cyborg Bette (Earth Rocker, 2013)
An ode to the cover girls of Heavy Metal magazine, in which we find the eponymous cyborg malfunctioning – “When I ask you for water, you give me gasoline” – and being replaced by the latest model. Those who mutter that the song is sexist need a new sense of humour chip.
7) Electric Worry (From Beale Street To Oblivion, 2007)
When touring with Motörhead a few years back, Clutch were asked by Lemmy why they’d stopped playing Electric Worry, and they confessed to having grown sick of it. “But that’s your Ace Of Spades!” said Lemmy. After being conspicuous by its absence for a while, it’s recently started filtering its way back into live sets, hopefully proving that they’re not so sick of it after all.
6) The Regulator (Blast Tyrant, 2004)
It’s possible to spend all day agonising between those slow burning tracks, Ghost, Son Of Virginia, Our Lady Of Electric Light, and The Regulator, each hauntingly brilliant in their own way, but we’ll go with the latter simply because it was used to such great effect on The Walking Dead. When Clutch bring it down a notch, they give you goosebumps. Check out all four.
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5) Noble Savage (Psychic Warfare, 2015)
In many ways a follow up to the title track from Earth Rocker, Noble Savage is a straight ahead rock ‘n’ roll tune that gives praise to rock ‘n’ roll for its own sake. By his own admission, it took Fallon a while to accept that he’s an “unapologetic lifer for rock and roll!” Here he revels in it.
4) Burning Beard (Robot Hive/Exodus, 2005)
An unabashed sci-fi fan, Neil Fallon lifted the line “pink rays from the ancient satellite” from the Philip K Dick novel VALIS, and while the rest of the song is wide open to interpretation (many of which can be found online), there is absolutely no question about that riff. It. Kicks. Ass!
3) The Mob Goes Wild (Blast Tyrant, 2004)
While Clutch lyrics are frequently laced with cryptic meanings and obscure references, this anti-war song makes its intent clear in no uncertain terms, and saw Neil Fallon criticised for being ‘un-American’ for suggesting that young men and women shouldn’t be coming home in a “box made of pine”. His advice, instead, was that everybody moves to Canada and smokes lots of pot.
2) Unto The Breach (Earth Rocker, 2013)
Where else would you find references to Dr Who, Shakespeare, and the Gutenberg Bible in the same song? Or, indeed, “hobgoblins and morris men fighting in the streets”? And, more importantly, where else would you find a riff so effortlessly stunning as the one provided here by guitarist Tim Sult? Nowhere, that’s where.
1) Spacegrass (Clutch, 1995)
Perhaps the ultimate stoner rock song, Spacegrass is, with good reason, the song you’ll hear requested the most at Clutch shows, usually from beneath a puff of telltale smoke. Instantly recognisable from the opening bass line, and naturally enhanced by a ‘herbal woodbine’, it is, little short of perfection. Like it says in the song, “planets align, a king is born.”