Monday, May 11, 2015

When rock is criminal, criminals rock.

There is no single album that has been more in constant rotation for me than Clutch's "Self-Titled."

Yesterday, it turned twenty years old!

Neal Fallon "wails and moans" through all twelve vocal tracks with a grumble that reeks of whiskey and hard times, never missing a moment to turn a clever phrase or expound on a religious diatribe. Tim Sult is the soul of the this endeavor, writing blues riffs for metal heads that weave and tumble and play with each other, each riff defining its song and becoming instantly memorable. Dan Maines though for me is the true master of the album. Me having stumbled into alternative music from bass-head Hip Hop leanings, his bass lines are the album, the first thing people notice, for good reason...his bass lines. Jean-Paul Gaster drums, it's a great performance, but is out-shined for me by everyone else. Perhaps that's a drummer's job, to hold it all together in the background. Maybe.

Clutch was my first concert, in 1995, at the Phoenix Amphitheatre in Pontiac, Michigan. To this day my buddy hates me for seeing Tad open the show, having no clue who Tad was and not being very impressed. I went with the infamous Scobie boys, both having their terrible long hair, shaved underneath, riding around in a two-door Plymouth that smelled like morning breath at all times of the day, the multiple gas station air fresheners having no effect. They introduced me to things I'd never heard of, and would never have heard of. I bought, rather, my mom bought me steel-toed boots for me to go to the show in, in case of a mosh pit rough up. I had no clue about anything at this point, especially not mosh pits. I remember pointing out some giant skinhead looking dudes to Eric and Steve, which they quickly squashed and tried to help me play it cool. Evidently Clutch, for whatever reason, had an actual Nazi-skinhead following in Michigan, which was notorious for its intimidating presence at their shows. Apparently that sect of people were pretty prevalent in the nineties throughout all sorts of music scenes. During Clutch's set I was forced into the mosh pit during their infamous rager "Binge and Purge." I fell, but seven hands immediately helped me up. It was invigorating! I was hooked.

About a month later the record came out and I bought it at the original Record Time at Ten Mile and Gratiot on cassette. I still have the cassette. It's battered and bruised from getting stuck in "uncle" Kevin's conversion-van tape deck after I forced our youth-group to listen to it on the way to a weekend getaway for church.

I've always had a morbid curiosity about just how many times Neal Fallon says "Yeah!" throughout the album. And now, in honor of its birthday and to pay homage to the record that has repeatedly, for 20 years, astounded, baffled, and inspired me, I will give you that "Yeah!" count. But there were terms for declaring a "Yeah!" a countable "Yeah!" I picked only "Yeah!"s that were not lyrically relevant. For instance, the line: "When I talk-talk on a C.B. yeah I scare men," from The House that Peterbilt wouldn't have a countable "Yeah!" Only celebratory or filler "Yeah!"s would count. Also, there are many moments throughout the record where Fallon double tracked his vocals, making, I imagine, intentional echoes of himself. So, I figured, if it meets the above criteria AND my ears hear it and my singing along would vocalize it, it counts. Boy I've built this up.

The grand total of "Yeah!"s is 42.

Seven Jam alone has fifteen, with Space Grass pulling in twelve. Three tracks have zero "Yeah!"s Forty-two is a lot! But not really as many as I expected. But it could be the most "Yeah!"s ever found in one album, that's something.

All these years and I still don't know what Fallon is talking about much of the time. It's funny how my lips say things at certain points in songs but I know I'm not actually saying what he's saying. In fact, at some of those moments I'm not saying actual words. It'd be funny to catch that on tape. Don't do it though, I'd be embarrassed.

If you haven't dabbled in this record, maybe try it? Maybe you'll love it too.

1 comment:

  1. Truly enjoyed this post! And yeah, still mad about you seeing Tad. Scobie too 😡