For a man often portrayed by the press as a lone wolf, the late Mark Lanegan was exceptionally collaborative throughout his decades in the music business. There were albums with Queens Of The Stone Age, Greg Dulli, Isobel Campbell and Soulsavers, and appearances on records by The Breeders, the Eagles Of Death Metal, Masters Of Reality, Mike Watt and Creature With The Atom Brain, for cite just a few.
And, of course, there’s his time as the frontman of Seattle’s hugely influential proto-grunge lords, Screaming Trees, and half a dozen captivating solo albums that have tapped into the deepest recesses of folk and music. blues. “Basically,” he said, “I always sing the same thing, whether it’s in a loud or quiet outfit.”
Lanegan’s music, which he once memorably equated with “throwing a bit of darkness on people”, was both unsettling and oddly moving. It was one of the great singing voices of modern rock; a rusty carburetor sound capable of imbuing even the thinnest lyrics with genuine seriousness.
Born in the Washington suburb of Ellensburg in 1964, a troubled teenage life led to heroin addiction and a year in prison for drug-related offenses. In 1985 he formed Screaming Trees with Van and Gary Lee Conner and Mark Pickerel. Four albums of slanted, heavy rock led to a deal with Epic in 1991, but the band’s success proved strangely elusive. By the end of the decade, Screaming Trees was nearly complete, and by then Lanegan had already had several albums into a solo career.
In 2000 he appeared on Queens Of The Stone Age’s To classify, signing up as a full-time member of the group the following year. He also took part in another project, joining his pal and lead Afghan Whigs member Greg Dulli in the Twilight Singers, before the duo went on their own as the Gutter Twins. Unsurprisingly, he left QOTSA in 2005, although he continued to sing on their albums and occasionally tour with them.
Add to that a downtempo album of electronica with northern duo Soulsavers and three albums of delicious desert-noir with ex-Belle & Sebastian star Isobel Campbell and you wonder how he got the time to do it all, without talk about maintaining a high level of consistency. .
2012 Blues funeralhis first solo album in eight years, sparked a period of prolificacy, with four more albums – impersonations, Ghost Radio, Gargoyle and someone knock released over the next few years before its final release, Upright songs of sorrow, arrived in 2020.
“Songs are always an expression of joy to me, no matter how sad they may sound to someone else,” he said. classic rock. “I don’t even call it work, because songwriting is more like a gift that I can take advantage of. A gift someone gave me, even though I don’t know where or why.”