Book of Bad Decisions
Clutch’s 12th studio release is as much about the men who make the music as it is the process of the music being made. Book of Bad Decisions may be their best decision yet.
Recorded in Nashville with Vance Powell (Seasick Steve, Arctic Monkeys, etc.), Powell spent time soaking up Clutch in their live element. He caught several shows, experiencing their sound from the audience to the stage. What resulted was taking this aesthetic back to the studio and creating a live-to-tape experience that is more in-the-moment than the band has constructed in the past, or at least since the dark obsessiveness of 2007’s From Beale Street to Oblivion.
Call it their Muscle Shoals or Detroit moment, the band continues to succeed in re-inventing their studio efforts as Book of Bad Decisions enacts a roughness, carefully selecting equipment to give their music a much deserved grit and muscle.
Going from Philip K. Dick on Psychic Warfare back to a bluesy swamp mantra of Southern rhetoric funded by a cataclysmic socio-political landscape, this album is everything you would expect and more, all seeded in American roots.
Clutch – In Walks Barbarella
“Are you cool? Well, I’m cool. Is everyone cool? Well, let’s get hot!” “How To Shake Hands” emerges from James Brown ethos and swirls a punk cyclone around our necks. The song is dizzying, but the outcome is a sweaty treble duster in essence. It’s one of many references that does not differentiate from the studio to the stage.
The surprise of this rather lengthy 15-song montage is the horn-dominated “In Walks Barbarella.” A saucy science fiction, Motown-driven, Tower of Power jam, the song is as loud as any Clutch power rocker. Factor in the bravado and sweat and it may be the highlight of this album.
The shining moment for me comes at the end of the album with “Paper & Strife.” The song may be a moderate post-three minute rocker with no spectacular stand-out moments, but it’s perfect in every way from Neil Fallon’s power vocals to Tim Sault’s freight train chords. This song shows off the way this band works together. The results show nothing but excellence coming from a group with an already exceptional career in rock and roll.
When I thought I could not have been impressed by Clutch’s work with album after album of rock muscle, in comes Book of Bad Decisions to prove me wrong.