Since 1991, Maryland metal and “stoner rock” band Clutch has built a loyal, nationwide following that dubs themselves “gearheads,” and played sold-out shows in prestigious clubs and arenas throughout the country for years. Thus, they are known as a great live band, and relentless touring is how they built and continue to build on their fan base. But not until this year did Clutch decide to release an official live DVD. In August, at long last, the DVD Full Fathom Five: Video Field Recordings hit stores. It’s a self-released DVD on a new label created by the band, Weathermaker Music, through which all future albums will be released. [Its companion CD Full Fathom Five: Audio Field Recordings was released this week]
Directed and produced by Agent Ogden, this 95-minute DVD compiles performances from five Clutch shows, four from 2007 stops and one from early 2008. And upon first impression, this criminally underrated hard rock band couldn’t be in better form live, and the 20-song set – five more than the CD version – will surely satisfy most fans.
The chosen tracklist for this DVD is culled from a majority of their albums, but draws most heavily from three releases: the mightily acclaimed self-titled, stoner rockin’ 1995 full-length (five tracks), 1998’s hard rock/metal Elephant Riders CD (five tracks) and the band’s most recent output, 2007’s ballsy, bluesy and hard rockin’ From Beale Street To Oblivion (six tracks). Some fans may fret there’s no material from their earliest releases (the 1991 Pitchfork EP and 1993 debut Transnational Speedway League) here, but Clutch doesn’t play many songs from that era nowadays. As of late, they alternate between mixing old favorites with more recent jam-rock material one night, then cut down their jam-ready material a bit for a more heavy set the next show. On this live DVD, you get the best of both types of shows.
The heaviest material (in Drop-D tuning) comes first, starting with the Soundgarden-meets-Toolish “Dragonfly,” a somewhat long alternative metal tune from 1998 that segued right into the similar-sounding “Child of the City,” from last year’s riff-tastic Beale Street CD. From there, the liveliness of the DVD picks up quickly, with another newer track, “Devil & Me,” a kickass bluesy southern rock-styled rocker that also features some slick, Aerosmith-styled guitar and bass licks that guitar aficionados would love. Other standouts include fan favorites like “10001110101” and “Big News I,” both of which feature a Deep Purple-ish organ melody supplied by Mick Schauer, and bluesy harp soloing by guest Eric Oblander (on “Big News I” and “Big News II”).