Great Albums Week- Day 7. Earth Rocker- Clutch

To conclude our seven great albums, it’s one from little know but big hitting band Clutch. Their tenth studio album, ‘Earth Rocker’ was released in 2013, after a four year gap from Clutch’s recording schedule. The band consists of Neil Fallon (vocals and guitar), Tim Sult (guitar), Dan Maines (bass) and Jean-Paul Gaster (drums) and, amazingly, the band have had the same core line up for their entire twenty-four year existence, with only keyboard player Mike Schauer departing the band in 2008 after just three years membership. Clutch have an unique style, with deep but not gruff vocals from Fallon and a blend of country, rock and folk that makes their sound instantly recognisable. That sound continues on ‘Earth Rocker’. Here are three songs that make the album great-

3- Gone Cold

A real slow, smooth record that accentuates the folk side of Clutch’s music. ‘Gone Cold’ features solemn lyrics, an easy chorus and a slow rhythm, ‘Gone Cold’ is a great song to sit down to on a sunny day and just relax. It’s chill-out music that makes you think. Brilliantly displaying Clutch’s full songwriting ability and can only really be described win one word- nice.

2- Cyborg Bette

Clutch’s more regular style, hard rock with a twist. The twist being that this song is about being mistreated by a woman, who just happens to be a robot. Elaborate metaphor or just a bit too much Southern Comfort, either way, it’s a great tune. Fallon and Sult’s guitar work is brilliant in this song, particularly just after the chorus, where a great little riff comes I’m to shift the song up. A brilliant little tune, one of Clutch’s best.

1- Book, Saddle And Go

Clutch’s tendency to relate their songs to periods of history is clear as day in this song. Set in, to use their own words, ‘the golden age of travel’, and describing the plight of a fictional highwayman- a daring anti-hero who would rob ladies of their purses and maybe something else too, if you get my meaning. ‘Book, Saddle And Go’ features something I really like. In the chorus, one line of vocals is supplemented with the bass line of the rhythm (the lower three strings on a guitar) and then the next with the treble (the higher three strings). I love the sound it makes, it’s like nothing I’d ever heard before and I hope more bands pay attention. ‘Book, Saddle And Go’- a great song from a great album.

'Earth Rocker' gave Clutch their first ever top 20 album on the Billboard top 200, and also become their highest charting album to chart in the UK. It also entered the top 3 on the US indie rock charts, although I would argue that they are in no way indie rock, because indie rock is just awful. Clutch are a real gem, a band like no other with a real unique sound that has built them a dedicated fan base around the world. I'm wholehearted looking forward to Clutch's next album, let's hope it's just as good as this one.

Great Albums Weeks- Day 6. Slash- Slash

The only solo album to be credited as great, it’s the first effort from former Guns ‘n’ Roses guitarist and certified Demi-god, Slash. For his eponymous debut solo album, Slash recruited the best and brightest vocalists around- from legends to rising stars, metal frontmen to pop icons- Slash didn’t discriminate when it came to asking for help. Slash left Guns ‘n’ Roses in 1996, but filled the fourteen year gap between GNR and his solo album with two bands- Slash’s Snakepit and Velvet Revolver- both of which achieved success. However, Slash must have decided the time had come to go alone, and so, over the course of three years, set about crafting this record. Here are three of the best

3- I Hold On (featuring Kid Rock)

Teaming up with self-proclaimed ‘American Badass’ Kid Rock, Slash was able to produce this beautiful ballad with just a hint of a country song to it. Featuring a rock organ and a choir, Rock’s vocals and Slash’s guitar work combine beautiful to create this wonderful tune.

2- Ghost (featuring Ian Astbury)

With songs like ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ and ‘Paradise City’ under his top hat, everyone knows that Slash is the king of riffs and this song is no different. Featuring the lead singer of The Cult Ian Astbury, ‘Ghost’ features a brilliant riff which displays the full skill that Slash posses, not only being able to play it but being able to keep it up for most of the song. Astbury’s vocals lend an old school feel to this song- you could picture it being released maybe twenty or thirty years ago. ‘Ghost’ showed that Slash’s solo career had promise, because it was only his first album and he’d already created an iconic song.

1- Doctor Alibi (featuring Lemmy)

Slash and Lemmy. Together. On the same track. Did someone say perfection? Not to mention that fact that this song also features heavy chords, a shredding solo and Lemmy shouting hate at people. What more do you want? Two legends of the genre, united in song about a subject dear to Lemmy’s heart- he himself is battling a long illness. It’s an amazing song, check it out pronto.

'Slash' went to number 3 in the US charts and entered the UK top 20, where it also achieved gold status. Slash then went on to make another album- 'Apocalyptic Love'- with his new band The Conspirators, who include Alter Bridge lead singer Myles Kennedy and Slash's former bandmate at Guns 'n' Roses bassist Duff Mckagan. Also, and this is very exciting, Slash's third solo album, titles 'World On Fire' is out this year. Fangirl moment. 'Slash' is just a great album, combining all the best bits of rock and metal into one great big thrashing album, with Captain Slash standing proudly at the helm of this fine vessel. If you are reading this Slash, do another one like this. It'll be awesome.

Great Albums Week- Day 5. Metallica- Metallica

The oldest album of my seven but by no means the worst. Heavy metal giants Metallica’s self-titled fifth album, also known as ‘The Black Album’ due to it’s dark coloured cover, was released in 1991 and sparked a change in Metallica’s timeline, citing a change from their earlier, more thrash-style music to a softer, more commercially acceptable metal. But this is by no means a bad thing, as this album created some of the best known and greatest Metallica songs in their arsenal. James Hetfield (lead vocals and rhythm guitar), Kirk Hammett (lead guitar), Jason Newstead (bass) and Lars Ulrich (drums) were about to discover a whole new fan-base with this record, expanding Metallica’s reach into realms previously untouched by their first four albums. And this was accomplished with songs like these three-

3- Nothing Else Matters

When Metallica do power ballads, they do it right. ‘Nothing Else Matters’ rivals ‘Fade To Black’ from their second album ‘Ride The Lightning’ as their best. A beautiful song that’s become a staple of their amazing lives shows ever since it’s release as the third single from the Black album. Beautiful vocals from James combined with an amazing solo from Kirk explain why this is one of Metallica’s best known and best loved tracks.

2- Sad But True

One of my favourites at the moment, ‘Sad But True’ became the last single to be released from this album in early 1993. Thumping chords and simple but memorable lyrics combined with cleverly times pauses that allow for explosive guitar work make this song a masterpiece. Another key feature of Metallica live shows, ‘Sad But True’ is also an example of why Metallica and the San Francisco orchestra should do another album, or at least a tour, because their version of this song kicks arse on ‘S&M’. You should check it out if you haven’t already.

1- Enter Sandman

The riff, the chorus, the creepy-as-hell-but-still-crazy-good video- this song has it all! The first single from ‘Metallica’ started the long run of amazing songs to come from this masterpiece. ‘Enter Sandman’ is all about childhood fears being realised, which shows that Metallica did keep some elements of their old thrash-style- which often featured lyrics concerning fear, death and war. A brilliant song and a real fan favourite- ‘Enter Sandman’ is just plain cool.

The Black album became the first Metallica record to top the US charts, and started a unique run of chart topping albums- making the band the first artist to have five consecutive albums top the Billboard top 200. It was also the first time the band had topped the UK charts, in fact, ‘Metallica’ was number one in all bar two of the ten countries it was released it (the two being Sweden and Finland, who clearly have no taste). ‘Enter Sandman’ became the first Metallica single to enter the US top 20, the UK top 5 and is the only Metallica single to date to achieve platinum status. My favourite album from my favourite band- ‘Metallica’ is a true triumph.

Great Albums Week- Day 4. Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea- Black Stone Cherry

For our forth great album we’re heading south to the wilds of Kentucky, where we find the birthplace of the artists behind ‘Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea’. Black Stone Cherry’s first two albums already cemented them as a rising force in the rock world, with anthems like ‘Lonely Train’, ‘Blind Man’ and ‘Things My Father Said’ showing off their full range of both songwriting and playing abilities. But this is the album that really made things move for Chris Robertson (lead vocals and guitar), Ben Wells (rhythm guitar), Jon Lawhon (bass) and John Fred Young (drums), catapulting them to international success and recognition. Here are three reasons why you should love ‘Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea’-

3- White Trash Millionaire

The first track on the album sends the boys back to their country roots. Driving in muscle cars, smoking ‘left-handed cigarettes’ and sticking it to the rich city folk, BSC stick two greasy southern fingers up to the upper classes. Catchy hooks, Robertson’s growling vocals and expert guitar work and even a little audience interaction section, this song has it all, which is why it’s in the top three from the album.

2- Killing Floor

The most underrated Black Stone Cherry song, if not song, of all time. ‘Killing Floor’ was never a single, never gets any radio play and is relatively unheard of, but it’s so damn good! Amazing lyrics, wah-wahs, key changes, what more do you want in a rock song? It’s the perfect example of a diamond in the rough, if you haven’t heard it I suggest you do, it’ll be we’ll worth the four minutes.

1- Blame It On The Boom Boom

It had to be right? What is fast becoming the band’s signature tune, and the one I hope they close with in November when I see them (London arena tour, supported by Theory Of A Deadman and Airbourne. Hell yeah.), ‘Blame It On The Boom Boom’ is all about one thing- luuuuuuuuurve. And yes, it does have to be said like that. Catchy as hell, great guitar work and things for the audience to do, the song is the ultimate live track, as well as sounding immense on the CD. The best song on the album. The best song by the artist. Done.

The album topped the UK rock charts- the second of three BSC albums to do so- became their first in the UK top twenty albums and produced their highest charting single to date on the US mainstream rock charts- ‘In My Blood’ got to number ten. A truly spectacularly record, if you don’t own it make sure you correct that. ASAP.

Great Album Week- Day 3. Amaryllis- Shinedown

The album that got me interested in music blogging. The fourth album from the kings of small-time bands Shinedown, ‘Amaryllis’ takes the band in a whole new direction from their previously more heavy music. The band had just come off the back of their biggest album yet- the platinum-selling ‘The Sound Of Madness’- and had to follow up. However, ‘Amaryllis’ showed a softer side to band, with heavy riffs and thumping chords replaced with thoughtful lyrics and beautiful melodies. Lead singer Brent Smith even got himself a haircut. Brent Smith and other founding member, drummer Barry Ketch, joined forced with guitarist Zach Myers and bassists Eric Bass (what a coincidence) for ‘The Sound Of Madness’ and the foursome stuck around for this 2012 release. Here are three of the best from ‘Amaryllis’

3- Through The Ghost

A beautiful acoustic number about someone changing for the worst. A beautiful triumph of lyric writing, some of which include ‘I used to wake up to the colour of your soul’ and ‘Everything that mattered is just a city of dust covering both of us’- ‘Through The Ghost’ is a perfect example of the brand new Shinedown, the calmer, more thoughtful band that can break hearts as well as fill stadiums.

2- Unity

The first Shinedown song I ever heard. ‘Unity’ is a beautiful anthem about, well, unity, between races, genders, ages, just one big human race living each day together. Unity features beautiful piano work as well a great guitar solo from Myers and beautiful vocals from Smith, easily one of the best rock singers of the modern era. A beautiful song, and so good live too, ‘Unity’ is one of my favourites.

1- I’ll Follow You

Melodic piano, belting vocals and a smashing guitar solo, ‘I’ll Follow You’ is the pinnacle of the album. A beautiful love song about doing anything for the one you love, Brent Smith would follow his love ‘down through the eye of the storm’ and doesn’t care if they ‘fall from grace’. The song also features one of my favourite lyrics of all time-

You can have the money and the world
The angels and the pearls
Even trademark the color blue
Just like the tower we never built
In the shadow of all the guilt
When the other hand was pointed at you

Just beautiful, so unique and brilliant sung by Mr. Smith. This song sets the standards for hard rock ballads and gave me goosebumps the first time I heard it. And sometimes, it still does.

'Amaryllis' gave the band their highest charting album ever in both the UK and the US and topped the US rock album charts. The first two singles from the album ('Bully' and 'Unity') extended the band's streak of number ones on the US mainstream rock charts to four, an unbelievable feat. This album is one of the first rock albums I ever bought and I still cherish my copy. I love it, and I hope you do too

Great Album Week- Day 2. Dark Horse- Nickelback

Day 2 in this great albums week is an album by one of my all1tme favourite bands, and for saying that I might just get some stick. ‘Dark Horse’ is Canadian superstars Nickelback’s sixth album, and came out in 2008. Nickelback currently consist of the three core members, Chad Kroeger (lead vocals and guitar and also husband of Avril Lavigne), Ryan Peake (Guitars and has the unfortunate condition of sharing birthday’s with Justin Beiber) and Mike Kroeger (Bass and inventor of the name of the band, which came from his time working in Starbucks when he would say “here’s your nickel back” when giving change to customers), as well as long-time drummer Daniel Adair (formerly of Three Doors Down and the only member of the band who has Twitter). The album was released in the wake of NB’s Multi-platinum record ‘All The Right Reasons’, which featured mega-hit ‘Rockstar’. But this album was by no means a disappointment, and featured some real classic Nickelback tunes. Here’s my top three

3- Just To Get High

A relatively unknown track, ‘Just To Get High’ is a warning about drug abuse in which the speaker talks of his former ‘best friend’ who commits crimes, gives up eating and sells family heirloom so he can buy drugs, and asks was it really all worth it ‘just to get high’? The song has meant full lyrics, a catchy chorus and a really epic guitar solo, one of the best of any Nickelback song. A real hard-hitter, it’s one of my favourites.

2- I’d Come For You

The first Nickelback song I ever heard, and the song that got me interested in the modern rock and metal scene. ‘I’d Come For You’ is a beautiful ballad about doing anything and going anywhere for someone you love. The song’s ambiguity on the recipient- if it’s a wife, daughter, mother etc.- shows that no matter who someone is, if you love them dearly then you should be willing to sacrifice anything for them. With lyrics like ‘Everyday I spend away my soul’s inside out’ and ‘Like wounded soldiers in need of healing’, the song is really potent, a beautiful track that still gives me goosebumps. A really nice song from a band that when at their best, does ballads like no one else.

1- Burn It To The Ground

My favourite Nickelback song ever. Catchy riff, talk boxes and a video with fire in it- ‘Burn It To The Ground’ is the ultimate drinking anthem. In the song that band are ‘swinging from the ceiling’, taking hits from tequila and have got ‘no class, no taste, no shirt’ and are ‘shitfaced’. Not exactly lyrics of the year, but in this context they do just fine. The song the band closed with when I saw them in London in 2012, it’s one of their best, and my all-time favourite.

The song became the band’s fourth consecutive number one in their home country, peaked at number 2 in the US and entered the UK top five. One of Nickelback’s biggest successes, and, for both historical and musical reasons, one of my favourite albums ever to go on sale. Sorry if I’ve offended anyone, I know Nickelback can be controversial, but hey, that’s just music. To me, they’re great.

Great Album Week- Day 1. Fortress- Alter Bridge

To kick off our Great Album Week, it’s the fourth effort from rock giants Alter Bridge. Formed from the remnants of post-grunge band Creed, Alter Bridge features the immense vocal range of singer/rhythm guitarist Myles Kennedy and the shredding powers of guitar maestro Mark Tremonti. Fortress came out in 2013 and was tenth on our list of Best Albums of that year. However, having re-listened to the album, I realise that it should’ve been much higher. The album combines a mixture of thrashing 7-minuters, beautiful ballads and riff-heavy stadium fillers. Here’s my top three songs from the album, with links-

3- Fortress

The title song is the band’s second longest and is a real thrill ride. Made up of several sections, a mixture of slow verses, thumping choruses and spectacular guitar work. I’ve already stated that this should be the closing song of every Alter Bridge song- the song that proves Alter Bridge can pull off the long song as well as any of the greats, signifying them as one of the titans of modern rock.

2- Cry Of Achillies

From the closing song on the album to the opening. This song shows that Alter Bridge can pull off the non-eponymous song just as well as the long one, which are two of the boxes a truly great rock or metal band needs to tick. Another song on the longer side, it opens with some beautiful acoustic work before roaring headlong into a real headbanger. A great way to open the album and one of Alter Bridge’s best.

1- Farther Than The Sun

My all-time favourite Alter Bridge song from my all-time favourite Alter Bridge album. Featuring catchy choruses, a crazy solo and vocal work to die for, this song is a real anthem. The lyrics are meaningful, the drops are sweet and the singing is incredible, what more do you want from an AB track?

Fortress was the first Alter Bridge album not to obtain a gold or silver status, however it is their highest charting album in the UK charts ever at number 6, and has also produced the band’s only charting single in the UK- Addicted To Pain.

It’s a great album, hence why it’s here.