As is a bad habit for me I am writing this while once again listening to the Clutch album in question. Book of Bad Decisions is a tremendous album that seems to be making it impossible not to be productive when you are listening to it, which may not be the best description of a Rock album, but allow me to explain.
From the first track Spirit of ’76 there is a momentum in the rhythm section that seems to strike through the music in a manner that is very rarely managed successfully. The Rolling Stones may have almost perfected this effect in Paint it Black, a song more designed to smash up a bar to I have yet to hear. However as genius and impossible to ignore as that song maybe Clutch have managed to get that sense of perpetual activity and a rhythmic call to action to last the length of an album rather than a 4 minute song.
On the first listen, having this album running in the background as I did other things, I was struck by the fact that there didn’t seem to be any ‘bad’ tracks on the album, meaning that there was no low point, no track you would skip on re-listens rather than that a track was necessarily bad. I was also convinced that the entire album had been made with the same sound and that all of the tracks had blended into one another. I was very wrong.
Although the sense of urgency remains throughout on a second listen through I was aware of just how wrong I had been. Compare third track In Walks Barbarella and fifth track Weird Times and you see that there is a change in overall feel, and if you listen closer perhaps an entire change of genre.
One of the ways we used to test how good an album was, back when cds were all you could buy, was to throw the disc into the player in the car and see how that felt. If we had done that here we would still be driving, if you are planning to road trip the entirety of Europe I recommend this album above any other.
My usual critique of wanting to know what the band sound like live is even more the case here, given that I already have the tickets for a Clutch gig in December. However I don’t think I have ever looked forward to a gig quite so much as I am this one. The madness of the crowd should be on a level not seen since Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes nearly destroyed the Cluny.
It is difficult to pick a stand out track from this release as there is no ‘low point’ to compare it to. Every track on this album is performed with a level of polish that is rarely seen in either a recorded or live format and this album lives on as one of the few in history where every track on it would be the stand out track of any other album. Think about it for a second, what other albums can you name where every song is a hit, there aren’t many. That is how highly I rate this album, to the point that it has actually affected my ability to review any other album, none would live up to Book of Bad Decisions.
Perhaps I need to head in the opposite direction to cleanse the aural palette.