Posts Tagged ‘mark lanegan’

Album Review: Imitations by Mark Lanegan

November 25, 2013

20131125-153149.jpg After years of drought between solo albums, Mark
Lanegan finally unearthed his solo career in 2012 with the release of “Blues
Funeral
.” He followed up later in the year with a collaboration with guitarist Duke Garwood for the haunting “Black Pudding.” September 2013 brought Mark to the return to his solo records of past years with a stripped down band (most songs just have a single guitar) in an album of cover songs called
Imitations.””Black Pudding” offered the same tone, but it was more of a collaboration and not a true solo album. The album also marks the return of former collaborators – Mike Johnson, who provided the guitar for most of Mark’s early solo albums, and former Screaming Trees drummer Mark Pickerel.

The album starts off with the slow-paced “Flatlands,” and it only varies from the tempo it sets occasionally. I the album, he covers Greg Dulli, Nick Cave, Andy Williams, Frank Sinatra, and others. It really shows the wide-range of influences that have led to a career spanning four decades. One particular standout for me is a tremendous version of Nancy Sinatra’s “You Only Live Twice.” He takes the former James Bond title track, and makes it his own by providing his trademark grizzled vocals. It’s album is a departure from the previous two Lanegan solo albums. “Bubblegum” and “Blues Funeral” had a full band (the artist credited was the Mark Lanegan Band) and took a more traditional rock approach, while still providing haunting songs that defined his earlier work. When asked why he made “Imitations” he replied:

When I was a kid in the late sixties and early seventies, my parents and their friends would play the records of Andy Williams, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Perry Como, music with string arrangements and men singing songs that sounded sad whether they were or not. At home my folks were also listening to country music, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, George Jones and Vern Gosdin were some of our favorites. For a long time I’ve wanted to make a record that gave me the same feeling those old records did, using some of the same tunes I loved as a kid and some that I’ve loved as I have gotten older. This record is it. Imitations.

If you like Mark Lanegan, you’ll loves this album. Even if you don’t like him, there are certain songs you can pick out and really enjoy. The album is very accessible to everyone, and deserves a place in your record collection.

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Mark Lanegan and Isobel Campbell

October 16, 2010

October 15th was the date. The Rock and Roll Hotel in Washington, DC was the venue. I had been waiting four years for this concert. Since 2006 and the release of Ballad of the Broken Seas (their first album together) I have waited, impatiently at times, to see them together in concert. I have seen Lanegan in concert seven times in a variety of settings and styles. From stripped down acoustic shows with Greg Dulli, to production heavy shows with the Soulsavers, to hard rocking shows with the Gutter Twins. However, I still had not seen him with Isobel. I had seen reports and videos of their concerts throughout Europe over the years, and always thought that they would come over here. It didn’t happen with Ballad of the Broken Seas, and it didn’t happen with their 2008 follow-up Sunday at Devil Dirt.

I began to lose hope. I began to hear rumblings of another collaboration, that was to become Hawk. I was excited about the new album, but I didn’t think about a possible U.S. Tour. I assumed that they would do their usual European tour and be done with it. After all, Campbell is on a British label and not many people have heard of her, or Lanegan for that matter, in the U.S. It didn’t make that much sense to spend all the money sending them to the United States. However, I saw that they were having a U.S. tour. I still wasn’t convinced though. They had announced a few U.S. dates in 2008, but were ultimately canceled. I bought my ticket to the DC show a few days after they went on sale and I waited. The day finally came. On to the show!

I met up with about five friends and we got to the venue about 20 minutes before the opening act started. Willy Mason opened the show and set the tone with his solo Alternative Country set. Mason is a really talented performer who had several good songs. As much as I wanted to see Mark and Isobel, I was content with Mason singing as many songs as he wanted. He ended his set at about 945 and we waited for the main act. We waited some more. Finally, after about 30 minutes, the band came out. Finally, Isobel and Mark were taking the stage.

They started the set with the chilling “We Die and See Beauty Reign“. They sang a few songs from their newest record, Hawk, including the rollicking “You won’t Let Me Down Again“, the sultry “Come Undone“, and a great version of Townes Van Zandt’s “Snake Song“. They chose a few songs from Ballad of the Broken Seas including the title track complete with cello solo by Campbell. Lanegan sang the always chilling, “The Circus is Leaving Town“. He thanked the crowd and went off stage.

Willy Mason who provided vocals on the album came on stage again much to the crowd’s delight, as his opening set was very popular. He sang the other Townes Van Zandt cover on the album, “No Place to Fall“. Being a huge fan of Van Zandt, I was very excited. He also sang “Cool Water” and one of his own original compositions. He left the stage to great applause and Lanegan came back on stage to great applause. It should be pointed out Campbell was very adept at getting Lanegan to smile and speak on stage – a rarity.

They focused more on songs from 2008’s Sunday at Devil Dirt. They sang “Salvation“, “Who Built the Road” and “Backburner“. The band went off stage to great applause, and after a minute or two they came back on stage for the encore. They started the familiar strings of “Revolver” from Ballad of the Broken Seas. They also sang “Do You Wanna (Come Walk With Me)“. But, for me the highlight came at the end, with a rocking version of Hank Williams, Sr.’s “Ramblin’ Man” that appeared on Ballad of the Broken Seas, and the Lanegan classic “Wedding Dress” that tore the house down.

I waited four years for that show. It was worth it.

Mark Lanegan

Isobel Campbell

Mark Lanegan and Isobel Campbell

Hawk, Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan

An Evening with Greg Dulli and Mark Lanegan

February 11, 2009

February 10, 2009 at the Troubadour in West Hollywood, CA will go down as one of the concerts where all who attended will count themselves as lucky. The concert was billed as “An Evening with Greg Dulli and Mark Lanegan.” They promised a stripped down acoustic setting featuring songs that neither of them have performed in years. It did not disappoint. In fact, it far exceeded my already high expectations. At this point, I should point out that the opening act – Happy Chichester – was really good. Fans at the Troubadour were demanding that he play more songs when he finished his set.

Photo by: Nancy Paulikas Used with permission

Photo by: Nancy Paulikas. Used with permission

After the opening act, chairs were set up and Greg Dulli, Mark Lanegan, and Dave Rosser walked out. Dave and Greg, carrying guitars, Mark with his signature black shirt and disheveled hair. They started the evening with a couple Gutter Twins tunes – “The Body”, “All God’s Children,” and “The Stations.” They then moved to their extensive back catalog. Greg first tore the house down with the Afghan Whigs tune “If I Were Going.” After he was done he said:

Mark sees that and raises me

Mark raised him indeed with an absolutely incredible rendition of the Screaming Trees classic “Sworn and Broken.”

Greg moved to the keyboard and they sang “We Have Met Before” from the Gutter Twins’ EP “Adorata.” Mark followed with a cover of “Creeping Coastline of Lights” and his own “Resurrection Song” I really wish I could say that the Troub was silent during the downbeats of these songs, but there was plenty of chatter. Way too much chatter for such a great concert. Now it was Greg’s turn and he threw in “The Twlilte Kid” and “The Lure Would Prove Too Much” in this seeming game of one-upmanship by the two artists that have reached “cult status,” but as Dulli pointed out:

Cult status isn’t financially lucrative. Look at the cars we drive. Thank God for Europe

It was Mark’s turn with “Kimiko’s Dream House”. Greg followed with “Summer’s Kiss” and “King Only”. Mark answered that call with “Sunrise” and “The River Rise” Both blew me away as I am a huge fan of the album “Whiskey for the Holy Ghost” from which both songs appear. The show ended with “Sunset Machine” and “In a Heavenly Way.” The latter song was absolutely incredible.

After a few minutes of applause they came out for an encore that included “Candy Cane Crawl” and “One Hundred Days” If there is anything that can make “One Hundred Days” better it was most definitely Petra Hayden’s violin. They also did “Tennessee Waltz.” Dave Rosser sang that song and whenever he releases a CD, I will be first in line to get it. Amazing musician. They ended the show with “All I Have to Do is Dream” and Cole Porter’s “I Get a Kick Out of You.”

Probably my favorite aspect of the show was the relaxed nature and the back and forth banter. They were putting themselves out there with the stripped down set and could not hide behind the rock, or pyro. It is something that is very rare in music today and something that is desperately needed. Instead of creating “bands” that music execs think will sell records and hide their lack of talent behind studio tricks and pyro, why don’t they sign people with talent? The last time they did the record company made more money then they ever had before and they haven’t made that much since. Why doesn’t someone put 2 and 2 together?

Todd Thurman

Gutter Twins Part Deux

November 9, 2008

The Gutter Twins Hit the City on November 7th, so I took the Metro over to the Black Cat club in Northwest DC to see them. Doors opened up at 9:00, and I got there around 9:45. When I got there the scene was pretty empty. I made my way to the front of the stage and settled in for the show.

Afterhours started playing at around 10. For those who do not know of the Italian band, get to know them. They are really good. They started of the night with a cover of “My Time (Has Come)”  They hit us hard with their songs and never let up. It was truly the best opening act I have ever seen. They could headline any other venue, just not when the Gutter Twins are on the same bill.

Afterhours ended at around 1105 and the roadies started to tear down their stuff and get ready for the Gutter Twins. They laid out the setlists

After a few more minutes, the band finally came out and came out rocking with “Idle Hands”. “Seven Stories Underground” was among many highlights as Mark’s vocals seemed to be in top form. the next went to 2004’s hit single “Hit the City” and it was an awe inspiring performance. For “Hard Time Killing Floor,” “Bete Noire” and “Down the Line” Greg Dulli came over rand sat at the Rhodes Piano and the Keyboard which were about three inches from my face, so that was cool.

No zoom was used in that photo. They slowed it way down for “St. James Infirmary Blues”, and let me tell you, when Lanegan sings it, you can feel it. Here is a sampling of the kind of intensity he brings to the table.

The set was a good mix of stuff off of “Saturnalia“, covers, and stuff from their EP “Adorata“. That was really good for me because I have not heard anything off of “Adorata” because it’s an electronic only release and I don’t like not having a physical copy of the records. I enjoyed the songs so much I almost wanted to buy it. I’m not going to until I see a physical copy though.

The highlight of the night, for me, came at the end of the set. “Front Street” was the song. It was Greg Dulli’s first song as a member of “The Gutter Twins” and I know how proud of it he is. He started to sing it and the crowd quickly joined in. By the end of it, he had trouble singing over the crowd and was putting everything he had left into this song. Really amazing. Really cool to be in a place that enjoys music as opposed to the hipster LA scene.

The band went offstage and I had flashbacks to the Avalon concert when they did not come back. I knew this would be different though because we were really into the show and we wanted more. The band was happy to oblige and after no more than two minutes, came back on stage. Mark sang a chilling version of “I Was in Love With You” and we were also joined by the lead singer of Afterhours on keyboards. They continued with “Methamphetamine Blues”. That also rocked the house down. Fittingly, they finished the night with the down-trodden “Number 9”. A somber song that capped off the evening perfectly.

More Pics:

Gutter Twins Concert – Hollywood, CA

April 9, 2008

On a cold, rainy night, a cold, dark band came on stage. OK, so it wasn’t that cold, and it was barely drizzling, but the ambiance of the night seemed just right for the Gutter Twins (nee Greg Dulli, the Afghan Whigs, and Mark Lanegan, the Screaming Trees). I got to the Avalon (after spending $25 to park… that’s not a typo) about 9:20 or so, just in time to hear a number of really good songs from Great Northern. They worked hard and the crowd seemed to be getting into it. My anticipation grew as the roadies were tearing down the Great Northern gear and setting up the Gutter Twins set. After a long, drawn out process, the full band finally appeared.

They started off heavy singing “The Stations.” I, as well as others in my section, seemed to be really into it. They continued with “All God’s Children” and “All Misery/Flowers.” One of the few songs that were song that were not on the album was “Live With Me,” which appeared on the Twilight Singers Stitch in Time EP. They also played a breathtaking version of the St. James Infirmary blues made famous by many including jazz pioneer Louis Armstrong and more recently, Isobel Campbell. The slow, brooding nature of the Gutter Twins’ vision fit that song really well.

Highlights of the night, for me, included “Seven Stories Underground” and “Bete Noire.” Dulli seemed to be frustrated with the audience when he asked for participation and got a very timid response from the hipster LA scene, at one point asking, “You guys still out there?” I was sitting almost directly in front of Jeff Klein playing keyboards. What a joy to watch. Some songs playing keys, some guitar, some playing his recorded loops from the laptop, all while smoking a cigarette. He really is an underrated and under appreciated musical talent. After Dulli introduced the band, Lanegan uttered the only non-singing words he uttered all night – “This is Greg Dulli.

Dulli closed the set with an amazing version of “Front Street” that blew me away. The band went offstage, to what seemed to me, great applause. The band went backstage. The applause lasted a few minutes, it seemed, and all of a sudden, the lights came on and the roadies started dismantling. I did not want to believe it, but then the curtain came down. There would be no encore tonight. There is a difference between going to a Mark Lanegan concert and a Greg Dulli concert. Dulli wanted the crowd to clap, and move and show emotions, and the crowd reacted like they were at a Lanegan concert, quietly listening to incredible songs. Still, even with no encore, it was a great show, packed out at the legendary Palace Theatre, now the Avalon venue.

Todd

Album Review: Cody’s Dream

March 26, 2008

codysdream-sm.jpg

Mark Pickerel and His Praying Hands – Cody’s Dream.

For those that do not know about Mark Pickerel, he was the original drummer for seminal alternative band. The Screaming Trees. He has also worked along such alternative luminaries such as: Kurt Cobain, Mike Johnson, Ben Shepherd, Jack Endido, Krist Novoselic, Steve Fisk and final Screaming Trees drummer, Barret Martin. Steve Fiskis also the producer of the Praying Hands debut album, Snakes in the Radio as well as Cody’s Dream.

This is the follow up to the Praying Hands’ debut album, Snake in the Radio. This album is along the sames lines as Snake in the Radio, but where Snake in the Radio could be considered Alt. Blues of sorts, Cody’s Dream is full-blown Alt Country. It loosely follows the same path of telling a story throughout the album, but it is much looser. Mark also talks more about religion then he did with his previous effort. He seems to back away from religion in some songs, but is drawn back to it again in others. The same thread of “works for some, not for me, though” seems to be a persistant theme. Very much like his fellow maverick Mark Lanegan does time and time again. (Maybe a concidence, but they did play together in the Screaming trees from 85-91).

The album starts off hard and fast with the title track and gets you prepared for the journey that Pickerel and His Praying Hands is about to take you on. Mark’s soft brooding vocals are like that of a soft spoken gentleman that has an aura of trust and experience. Some songs are faster than others, but the album flows really well. There is a lot of great music on this record.

Mark shows his comedic side with the song “Leaving with the Swamptones” as he tours from church to church throughout the country looking for pretty girls. “First stop is gonna be Charlotte. I’ll just bet she’s hot”. As Brian Chidester (Editor in Cheif of Dumb Angel Magazine) so aptly put it, ” ‘Last Leaves’ is a song the Neil Young wishes he wrote”. Religion and relationships are very thematic throughout the record and that can relate to everyone in any faction of life. We have all experienced one or the other, if not both, but we can’t put words to it. Luckily, we have people like Pickerel to do it for us. I highly recommend this album to anyone who likes good music and a good time.

Todd

Cody’s Dream and Snake in the Radio are available at BloodshotRecords.com

The Soulsavers feat. Mark Lanegan

March 2, 2008

On Sunday night, December 2nd, I had the privilege of going to this amazing concert. The night I had been waiting over a year for had finally come to pass. The show started with the band Spain playing the opening act. They were good, but I could not wait for them to be over because I, and the rest of the packed Troubadour, knew that the Soulsavers were coming on next. For those who do not know the Soulsavers, let me tell you who they are. The Soulsavers are a British electronica/hip hop/gospel band. They are incredibly talented musicians who have received overwhelming critical acclaim for their first release, Tough Guys Don’t Dance (2003) as well as their newest CD It’s Not How Far You Fall, It’s the Way You Land (2007). They received a lot of notoriety for their second album because, not only is a phenomenal album, but also because of Mark Lanegan’s contribution. Mark wrote and sang on most of the album. Mark is the kind of musician that brings instant credibility to any label he is on, or any band that he sings with and the Soulsavers are no exception, even though they are very good on their own.

They started off the night with a rocking version of the instrumental “Ask The Dust” that was awesome. When that song was completed, he man himself, Mark Lanegan, walked out and began to sing “Ghosts of You and Me”. They played Lanegan’s cover of Junior Kimborough’s “All Night Long” and then went back to their own “Paper Money”. The gospel singers they used for backup were simply amazing. Instead of doing all their own stuff, the band took risks and were rewarded greatly when they covered “Effigy”, “Codeine”, and “Feels So Good”. The song, “Spiritual” (written by vocalist Josh Haden who appeared on their first CD, “Tough Guys Don’t Dance”) really took the crowd into another world as Lanegan, desperate for companionship, cried out to Jesus to help him. Really powerful. They even spliced in Lee Hazelwood’s “Some Velvet Morning” to their own “Cabin Fever”. “Cabin Fever” is the only song they played from “Tough Guys Don’t Dance”.

After “Cabin Fever” the band walked off stage only to come back out a minute later to blow us away with the lead single off “It’s Not How You Fall, It’s the Way You Land”, “Revival“. they ended the show with a gospel version of “Midnight Special”. I pity the man who has not heard a gospel version of “Midnight Special”. It was a great way to end the show. The show was just amazing. The band was extremely tight and the musicianship was outstanding. Nothing like being five feet away from your favorite musician.

Todd

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