Clutch recently announced their annual run of holiday shows for 2011 which will find them sharing the stage with Corrosion of Conformity and Kyng. Anyone who has already seen the Maryland stalwarts in concert already knows why many critics consider them one of the most vital live performers around today. In celebration of the gigs, Noisecreep asked Clutch vocalist Neil Fallon to take part in our ‘Five Albums That Changed My Life’ series.
‘Greatest of the Delta Blues Singers’
Skip James (1965)
“During one of Clutch’s first tours, I bought a blues cassette tape at a truck stop. I had never heard of the artist, but I desperately needed to hear something new. The first track was ‘Devil Got My Woman.’ Instantly, the late night creep-out meter went off the charts. That record, ‘Greatest of the Delta Blues Singers,’ scared the daylights out of me and it still does. James’ voice and cryptic guitar playing made me realize that music doesn’t need to be loud to be terrifying.”
“Hearing ‘Bone Machine’ was a watershed moment for me. I realized songs don’t need to be about true life experiences. They could be tall tales, pieces of weird fiction standing on their own without any need for justification or explanation. Waits’ tales in ‘Bone Machine’ are nightmarish. In ‘Black Wings,’ the line, “Some say he once killed a man with a guitar string,” is genius. And to be totally honest, ‘Going Out West’ has given me lyrical inspiration for more than one Clutch song.”
“A high school friend of mine lent me the yellow ‘Bad Brains’ cassette. I remember seeing the song title ‘Pay to Cum’ and thinking that this band just had to incredible. Upon listening, though, I was totally confused. I had nothing to compare it to. It was freakish. But after repeated listens there was that eureka moment and ever since they have been on the loftiest of rock pedestals.”
“The ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ album cover poster was one of the rare chess pieces that escaped any collateral damage in my adolescent battles with my parents. Posters went up. I would do something stupid. Posters would come down. Repeat. But that poster always dodged the bullet. Maybe it was so innocuous they just thought it was art. Who knows? ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ is one of the few records I love today more than when I first heard it. Sure, it’s been played into the ground and maybe it’s easy to dismiss because of that. But damn it, this album is a timeless masterpiece. For my adolescent self it was a secret escape hatch. And as a 40-year-old, it still is.”
“I think ‘Welcome to Sky Valley’ is without a doubt the best record of the 1990s. I can’t tell you how many times we listened to this record in our touring van. It was the soundtrack to many many overnight hauls. When I hear these songs now they conjure up a collage of faces and places that I hold very dear.”
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