Mark LaneganThe nickname – “Dark Sign” – was not accidental. According to the musician and especially the autobiography of the Washington-born singer – who died Tuesday at the age of 57 after long battles with drug addiction, kidney disease and recently Covid-19 – were as bleak as they were distinctive.
His best songs, cemented by his strong baritone, depicted scenes of “decadence, corruption, everything, everything,” as he wrote in his 2020 autobiography, “Sing and Cry.”
Despite his banning behavior, after he became famous with Screaming Trees in the late 1980s, Lanegan worked with a wide range of artists ranging from Queen of the Stone Age to “Bell and Sebastian” by Isabel Campbell to Mariana Faithfull. Here are Lanegan’s twelve brightest dark musical moments.
Screaming Trees “Belly Night” (1988)
After three years of their career, the band, which allowed Lanegan to escape from his hated hometown of Elensburg, Washington, signed a contract with the hot indie label SST. The band’s second album, “Invisible Lantern”, ended with this pathetic but melodic final track “Night Comes Creeping”. It is swept away by the outside, the Byrds-y guitar line and Lanegan’s roar high in the mix.
Mark Lanegan – “In the Dark” (1990)
This grim, bouncy track from Lanegan’s first solo album is one of two from this set, where his friend Kurt Cobain sounds on backing vocals. The second was a cover of the traditional blues song “Where Did You Sleep Last Night”, which Nirvana made world famous by performing (with Cobain on vocals) on Nirvana’s inspired 1993 song “MTV Unplugged”.
Screaming Trees “Almost Lost You” (1992)
Featuring a 1992 feature in Singles, a love letter from director and writer Cameron Crow to the Seattle stage, this song turned the Dark Mark charging track into an unlikely hit single.
Crazy Season “Slip” (1995)
You have to find a luxurious version of this unique supergroup album in the grunge genre (starring Lane Staley of Alice in Chains, Mike McCready of Pearl Jam and Barrett Martin of Trees) to hear the low, sonorous, scandalous metallic atmosphere of Lanegan. Great marimba work, too.
The Queen of the Stone Age “Disappearing” (2000)
Although he is always officially a “guest vocalist” in Queens of the Stone Age, Lanegan’s sound and temperament fit well into Josh Homa’s desert metal ensemble – and their slow, quenching “In the Fade” s’ is a stunning moment of the band’s second album, “Score R.”
Queen of the Stone Age “Song for the Dead” (2002)
“No One Knows” would be a clear version of the band’s “Songs for the Deaf” – all of which Dave Grohl performs on drums – but this slippery, slow, raging epic – is exquisitely trash.
Mark Lanegan’s “Hit the City” (2004)
Taken from his album “Bubblegum,” Lanegan took his jump from Sub Pop to 4AD seriously with a grim but glamorous, creepy-crawling track recorded with the vociferous but soulful PJ Harvey.
Isabelle Campbell and Mark Lanegan “Revolver” (2006)
Prairie jazz blues with a lightning brush, sung and played by Lanegan and bright Scottish cellist and Belle & Sebastian singer Isabelle Campbell. Delightful.
The Gutter Twins – Bête Noire (2008)
With Greg Dali of Afghan Whigs as a partner in soul grunge Fender Rhodes, this long-running album project “Saturnalia” is actually the perfect combination of the talents of both men – and this lonely song on Lanegang is a slippery, funk peak.
Mark Lanegan’s “Song of the Undertaker” (2012)
This sharp glam-pop sound turned into an industrial soundtrack on Lanegan’s album with the apt title “Blues Funeral” – and, in particular, in his song “Gravedigger’s”.
Mariana Faithful – “They come at night” (2018)
A spare, clicking guitar that signals the blues, and questions like “What the hell, mom, attacked me?” an alarm that the middle reds can’t come from a better team than Lanegan and Faithful.
Mark Lanegan – “I would not like to say” (2020)
With a battery of synthesizers, sequencers, cutters and drum machines behind him, Lanegan lets his baritone go free in ways that Scott Walker first introduced in “Tilt”.
Mark Lanegan – The Key Skeleton (2020)
Replica lines such as “I am ugly inside and out / There is no denial” on top of the atmospheric musky and pensive waltz are the quintessence of Lanegan’s late period.
Mark Lanegan’s best musical moments
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