The Elephant Riders
Label: Columbia Records
Time: 10 tracks/51:03
When I bought this, the clerk asked me if I had heard how at their
shows Clutch says they'll let the first 150 girls in free, because so many
of their fans are male! I can't understand why....these guys rock!
If they were a club sandwich, they'd have old Zeppelin and Sabbath riffs
for the bread, funk rhythms for the meat, psychedelic lead guitar the cheese,
freakabilly blues the lettuce and tomato, and all the crazy alterno-native
grooves and tricks the special sauce that glues it all together.
Or imagine if 16 Horsepower decided to play hardcore. Or...if somehow
Beck was in Led Zeppelin, and they were all abducted by aliens for several
years and forced to work the mining pits of Planet Z(!) before being given
back their instruments. Or . . . okay, I suppose that's enough.
We've got buzzing basslines and big bad riffs like
Neil Fallon's vocals are so rowdy and flamboyant, it sounds as though he has to swallow a mouth full of pebbles and then stick his head underwater to sing...you just wouldn't be able to handle him otherwise. But actually, he has very definite pronunciation--so you can catch every strange phrase--and tons of variety in his singing, from low-voiced spoken words to harsh shouts to slurred musings to raging gurgles. His vocals are always very rhythmic, packed with personality, and matched fully with the music.
Of course, Clutch's coolness doesn't dissipate with the lyrics either. I've heard them described as "Dr. Seuss stories gone very wrong," which is a perfect way of putting it. The title and subsequent album art came about when one of the members wondered what it would be like if there was a cavalry troop in the Civil War that rode elephants instead of horses? Hmm....such is the world of Clutch. They throw in subtle social commentary on "Green Buckets":
Green buckets every Friday at every driveway.
They're filled with glasses, plastics, and newspapers too.
They say they recycle and bring them back to you.
We could take the trash out every Thursday night.
We could be a family, consume many goods.
WE COULD BE THE PILLARS OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD.
Instinct tells me to run away, while faith proposes that I wave.
Himalaya is my old time stomping ground (Oh yes, time is of the
The author looms above his page and thinks it strange
sorry that I left my home. Oh, oh, oh.
LOOK OVER YONDER there on the farther shore, on the
LOOK OVER YONDER there, I see a ship of gold, I see a
ship of gold.
BEYOND THAT MOUNTAIN there I see a Citty-on-a-Hille.
ITS GATES are open wide. I hear the ringing bells.
LOOK OVER YONDER there on toward the burying ground.
POOR BOY IS ALL AFIRE. Poor boy is dead and gone. Oh,
poor boy is dead and gone.
One of these days the ship of gold will carry me to my reward.
By Josh Spencer