Published Jan 21, 2014Over the past quarter-century, Mark Lanegan has had one fascinating musical ride. He first made a mark fronting Seattle grunge pioneers Screaming Trees and later got more rock 'n roll kicks in Queens of the Stone Age. More significant, however, is a solo career that has found him exploring rootsier sounds with both passion and skill.
That side is showcased on this two-disc anthology, out on noted reissue label Light In The Attic. Disc two is a must-have for the Lanegan completist, as it features 12 previously unreleased tunes. It proves Lanegan's left-overs/castoffs are superior to most artists' A-list material, but it's the 20 tracks on disc one that confirm his compelling artistry. His rich, powerful and macho vocal delivery perfectly complement the poetic and often dark lyricism of his material. Reference points include Nick Cave, John Cale and Jeffrey Lee Pierce (one song here, "Kimiko's Dream House," is a Pierce-Lanegan co-write, while a cover of Cale's "Big White Cloud" also appears), and the consistent quality of Lanegan's large body of work now justifies his placement alongside those greats.
It doesn't hurt that he could call upon PJ Harvey and members of Soundgarden, Screaming Trees, QOTSA, Guns 'n Roses and Dinosaur Jr. (Mike Johnson and J Mascis) to add musical muscle to these sessions. His songs are primarily guitar-based, but judicious use of violin, vibes (on the gorgeous "Creeping Coastline of Lights"), sitar, saxophone and vintage keyboards keeps things interesting. Anyone considering checking out his catalogue will find this a perfect intro. while the lavish packaging is a nice bonus. (Light In The Attic)