Monday, August 28, 2006

Mark Lanegan: Part VI - Fallen Trees

This is part six of my piece on Mark Lanegan's career.

Part I is here.
Part II is here.
Part III is here.
Part IV is here.
Part V is here.

The next few years saw the Screaming Trees’ star begin to fade. The trials they went through making Dust may have ultimately been more than the group could handle. Lanegan took some time to deal with his alcohol abuse and heroin addiction. He headed off to Joshua Tree, CA with Mike Johnson and a slew of other musicians, notably J. Mascis and Tad Doyle, to record another solo effort,1998’s Scraps At Midnight. Comprised of 10 beautifully melancholic songs, Scraps continued Lanegan’s trend of releasing moving, compelling solo albums. Though similar in sound and style to his previous solo efforts, Scraps has a unique feel that the musicians involved attributed to the special atmosphere of the Joshua Tree-area studio in which the music was created. “Bell Black Ocean”, a piano based ballad with exquisite, sparse acoustic slide guitar, is a highlight and is reportedly Lanegan’s favorite track on the album.

Bell Black Ocean (from Scraps At Midnight)

Without wasting any time, Lanegan and Johnson released the covers album I’ll Take Care Of You in 1999. My least favorite of Lanegan’s solo releases, it’s still gripping if only because of Lanegan’s soulful vocals.

In 2000, Queens Of The Stone Age released Rated R, their second full-length. This was special for Lanegan fans because Mark’s vocals were featured on “In The Fade”, “Auto Pilot” and “I Think I Lost My Headache”, though on the latter two in a backing capacity only. This collaboration would prove fruitful, as Lanegan would have a bigger role on QOTSA’s next album and would even tour with them in 2002.

In The Fade (from QOTSA's Rated R)

This era of Lanegan's career also saw the Screaming Trees cut new demos in the studio, one of which is below, and they performed a few shows in showcase-like situations in 2000 to try and seduce labels with their new material. However, no labels were biting, and the group officially disbanded after a final show at the Experience Music Project in June of 2000.

One Way Conversation (unreleased 1998 demo)

2001 saw Lanegan release another solo effort, Field Songs. Lanegan’s manager hyped it in the press as more of a rock record than previous solo albums, but in my opinion it was not a significant departure in style from his previous solo releases. A few more electric guitars don’t make an album a “rock” record when it is still steeped in folk and blues. Labels aside, Field Songs was another strong album, and it's definitely worth checking out if you like Lanegan's solo material.

Resurrection Song (from Field Songs)

Queens Of The Stone Age’s 2002 release Songs For The Deaf featured Lanegan’s lead vocals on four tracks, “A Song For The Dead”, “Hangin’ Tree”, “God Is In The Radio” and “A Song For The Deaf”. This is an outstanding record, worth purchasing not only for Lanegan’s vocals, but also for the excellent, bludgeoning songs and the always fantastic drumming of Dave Grohl.

A Song For The Dead (from QOTSA's Songs For The Deaf)
Hangin’ Tree (from QOTSA's Songs For The Deaf)

Click here for PART VII.

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Blogger TOR Hershman said...

Sweet Oblivion, what a wonderful name for your blog.

Stay on Groovin' Safari,

August 29, 2006 2:51 AM  

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