Clutch
"Full Fathom Five"

(Weathermaker Music 2008)Clutch - Full Fathom Five

Somehow, this is Clutch's first live DVD. This is surprising because 1: Clutch has been kicking it since the early '90s; 2: they have a reputation for being a top-notch live act, and 3: they're on tour, like, always. "Full Fathom Five," along with the separately-sold CD of the same name, was recorded at a handful of shows following the release of 2007's "From Beale Street to Oblivion," and while it may not quite have been worth the wait, it's pretty close.

Clutch's rep, if these shows are any indication, is well-founded. They bring the rock to each of the five concerts recorded, never lacking for energetic precision or boogie-inducing groove. The band is tight throughout, as one would expect from a group that tours as much as they do. The quality of the recording matches the on-stage performance. The audio on both the CD and DVD is particularly good, delivering a high-quality mix in which all of the instrumentation and vocals are distinct from one another; it isn't muddy, and yet is doesn't sound overproduced, either.

The video on the DVD is about par for the course as far as concert footage goes. The production doesn't exactly have a "Shine a Light" budget, but some cool split-screen and black & white shots are used to good effect, breaking up what could otherwise have been a standard editing job. Bonus points to guitarist Tim Sult for rocking a Mastodon tee during the show filmed in Australia.

Again, this was recorded on tour supporting "From Beale Street to Oblivion," and the setlist makes it abundantly clear. Of the 22 songs from both the DVD and CD, a full seven of them are from "Beale." There are also five apiece from "Elephant Riders" and their self-titled album. This does not make for a representative sampling of Clutch's discography, as there are exactly zero tracks from either "Transnational Speedway League" or "Pure Rock Fury." This would be unfortunate for those who may have wanted to see live versions of "A Shogun Named Marcus" and "Immortal." Yeah, hi.

While the setlist may not be suited for those wanting an introductory course, this is pretty much a no-brainer for Clutch fans. It should be noted that there is nothing in the way of extras on the DVD (or CD, obviously), but the performances and overall quality are reason enough to pick this up. If you're only going to run out and buy one, I'd recommend the DVD. You get an extra half-hour of music, plus you can see for yourself the power of Neil Fallon's beard.

B+

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