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‘Beehive’: A new video from Mark Lanegan

Former Screaming Trees and Queens of the Stone Age singer Mark Lanegan is on the cusp of releasing Gargoyle, his tenth solo album in almost 30 years, and it’s a good’un. It features, as always, Lanegan’s smoky, whiskey-soaked baritone singing voice (if you’re unfamiliar, imagining a more soulful Leonard Cohen puts you in the ballpark), and it continues his ongoing explorations of synth music, which can be pretty jarring to Screaming Trees fans who haven’t kept up with him. But they’re not terribly new—his 2014 Phantom Radio veered in that direction, and examples of his voice accompanying electronics go back at least ten years; most notably, in the ‘oughts, he collaborated on the song “Black River” with Bomb the Bass (there’s a fantastic Gui Boratto remix of that, by the way) and on Soulsavers’ extremely cool trip-hop/gospel album It’s Not How Far You Fall, It’s the Way You Land.

Gargoyle is credited to The Mark Lanegan Band, but most of the music was composed by Rob Marshall of Exit Calm and Humanist. The rest is by Queens of the Stone Age’s Alain Johannes, an actual mainstay of Lanegan’s band. The different composition styles don’t prevent the album from cohering; its musical dichotomies are matched by lyrical ones. Lanegan’s themes here are heavily adorned with angels and demons, the Devil and God (there’s a passage in the LP’s closer “Old Swan” that could have come straight from a praise song, and the album is being released by Heavenly Recordings).

The album won’t be out until April 28th, but a couple of songs are available—both Lanegan/Marshall compositions. The straight-up gothy “Nocturne” was released online back in February, and the more uptempo “Beehive” is represented by a new video, a sad and charming little vampire love story by Zhang and Knight. The song features guitar contributions from Afghan Whigs’ Greg Dulli, and it’s Dangerous Minds’ privilege to premiere the video for you today, right after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘No Nirvana’: Jane’s Addiction, Sonic Youth, Screaming Trees & more live on UK TV in the early 90s

An early shot of Jane’s Addiction.
The Late Show was a multi-topic program broadcast on BBC2 which featured issues of cultural importance such as art, books, films and segments dedicated to more socially conscience topics such as military conflicts and religion. Not to diminish such things, they also featured live musical performances by musicians and groups such as XTC, the ethereal Jeff Buckley and The Stone Roses who appeared on the show in during its first year in 1989. In 1993 The Late Show broadcast a special called “No Nirvana” that featured a collection of what is referred to as the all encompassing sounding “contemporary American rock bands” that had previously appeared on the show. 

The title of the show was allegedly intended to be a joke directed at The Late Show itself because for some reason the band had never appeared on it. Most likely because they had suddenly become the biggest band in the world after the release of their 1991 album Nevermind. The grouping for The Late Show’s late-night Contemporary American Rock lovefest delivered was to say the least, a pretty solid knockout punch when it came to the lineup. Though they were part of the original broadcast, performances by Pearl Jam (doing “Alive”) and Rage Against the Machine (performing “Bullet in the Head”) are not included in the footage below. What you will see are Jane’s Addiction pulling off a great version of “Been Caught Stealing,” Sonic Youth’s killer version of “Drunken Butterfly,” Seattle grunge heroes Screaming Trees led by a long-haired Mark Lanegan doing “Dollar Bill,” and more from the likes of Belly, Dinosaur Jr. (with a nearly unrecognizable J Mascis), Smashing Pumpkins, Minneapolis band Sugar, and R.E.M.

Watch after the jump…

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Kurt Cobain and Mark Lanegan’s short-lived Leadbelly tribute band

Before either of their bands achieved major national prominence, Screaming Trees’ Mark Lanegan and Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain were briefly members of a tribute band honoring the great blues artist Leadbelly. The band, called “The Jury,” was ill-documented, but it’s been mentioned in passing in numerous articles, like this one in the old Seattle music mag The Rocket.

That’s also how he [Lanegan] describes the events that led to his two highly-acclaimed solo albums on Sub Pop. He says the solo records came out of some work he was doing with his close friend Kurt Cobain, and that he felt it was pretentious to release a solo album. “It happened because Kurt and I were going to do this thing—with Krist Novoselic and Mark Pickerel—of Leadbelly covers. And that just kind of fell apart. But Pickerel and Jonathan Poneman kind of dreamt up the idea of doing the solo thing. I had some demos that I’d been working on and a bunch of demos I’d done with Kurt, that I never really gave him credit for.”

Those demos were recorded with Skin Yard guitarist Jack Endino, then and still the go-to producer in Seattle for heavy rock, during two sessions in August of 1989.

Easily the best-known expression of Lanegan and Cobain’s Leadbelly fandom was Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged version of “Where Did You Sleep Last Night,” a/k/a “In the Pines.” If you were breathing, sentient, and reasonably conscious in 1994, you saw the footage of that performance about twelve million times in the months following Cobain’s suicide, but Cobain had previously recorded that song with the Jury, and it was released on Mark Lanegan’s 1990 solo debut, The Winding Sheet. Cobain appears here on guitar, and shares vocals with Lanegan, though it’s Lanegan’s voice that dominates. It’s much more stylized and menacing than Nirvana’s more organic Unplugged take on the song—and one of the doomiest versions of that much-recorded old song there is.

Other recordings of the Jury that have surfaced are an instrumental version of “Grey Goose,” a solo acoustic Cobain performance of “They Hung Him on a Cross,” and a full band version of “Ain’t It a Shame to Go Fishin’ on a Sunday.” They turned up on the completist’s goldmine 2004 Nirvana boxed set With The Lights Out, the last one’s title truncated to “Ain’t it a Shame.” Cobain is out in front on that one. Some Internet sources have it that Lanegan played guitar on this, but as far as I can tell that credit is absent from the release, and I’m unaware of Lanegan playing any instrument. When you have a singing voice like his, who needs to?

Happy 50th birthday to Mark Lanegan! Also, happy birthday and bottomless gratitude to Beth Piwkowski, whose idea this post was.

Previously on Dangerous Minds
Cheer up with your very own Mark Lanegan bobblehead
Absolute Nirvana: new Steve Albini mixes push ‘In Utero’ anniversary set into essential territory

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Screaming Trees in concert: 30 minutes of rock and roll goodness
03:39 pm

Pop Culture

Mark Lanegan
Screaming Trees

I’ve been spending a lot of time listening to Mark Lanegan’s terrific new album Blues Funeral and it got me to thinking about Langegan’s first group, the under-appreciated Screaming Trees, and what a fine fine band they were. Thoughts led to looking around the Internet and lo and behold I came across this high quality video of The Trees with Josh Homme performing live in Germany in 1996.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment