Friday, February 10, 2012

FDF Volume 3 Issue 253 - Mark Lanegan - Scraps at Midnight

Album – Scraps and Midnight
Artist – Mark Lanegan
Key Players – Mark Lanegan – vocals. A series of other musicians play on the records from Tad Doyle to J.Mascis, I'll make note on the tracks they perform.
Produced By - Mike Johnson and Mark Lanegan

Release Date – July 21, 1998

What caused me to blow off the dust? - Mark has a new solo album out and I was just bitten by the bug.

Overview – This is the third solo album from Mark Lanegan. Lanegan, who rose to fame as a member of the band “Screaming Trees” released his first solo record in 1994. This release many consider to be the final installment of a trilogy of albums. Lanegans first two records explored American roots and Blues and Lanegan was quoted in an 2004 interview he intended to make records with a blues feel but to not fall in to what many see as a blues record.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) – A lone guitar bends and twists a few times before the band comes in and “Hospital Roll Call” starts. The band is cool and Lanegan speaks a few lines but lets the band roll along. The track is rumored to be about a stay in rehab for Mark and he says “Sixteen” (Room or Patient number?) It sounds like the theme to a modern western movie at times. Johnson has a run on guitar but one can't escape that “Western Movie” feel. The moody acoustics come out as “Hotel” begins. Lanegan is in no rush and his whiskey soaked vocals are honestly to die for. He has one of the best voices in rock. Think a little Tom Waits, but not nearly as gruff and you'll get the idea. There are slide guitars but we don't really hear drums and the band is in no rush. “Stay” feels a little like Pink Floyds “Mother” in its single ringing guitar, but as the drums join in we are about as crazy as we have been up to this point. There is a longer guitar solo as well that is quick, and used during the fade out. “Bell Black Ocean” finds acoustic guitar, piano and some slide guitar to accompany Mark. The piano seems to be more of the focus with Mark, but its not a rushed, note filled piano part. A few notes here, a quick burst there, but when a short guitar section cuts it short you actually await the return. The slide guitar works well as it plays over the piano at time, but without being overbearing. The track “Last One In the World” follows. Rumored to be about Kurt Cobain it finds more of a band setting with the bass, guitar and drums. Think a dark and smokey bar, and you are there. The drum sticks tap off the rim of the snare as the acoustic guitars strum at times, bend notes at others for a dark and moody feel. Mark sings “good bye friend, thank you for the dream” you tend to believe its about someone dear to his heart. The track “Wheels” finds a collection of guest players. J.Mascis (Dinosaur Jnr) on piano, Tad Doyle (TAD) on drums. Also joining are Phil Sparks on upright bass and Mike Stinette on saxophone. Mark sings early on within the track. Stinette plays the sax after the first verse and then you hear Sparks bass work a little more. Mascis holds the melody together nicely on piano. Known for his big wall of guitar it is a nice touch. Mark starts to sing early on “Waiting On A Train” accompanied by two guitars. To paint the picture think three people on a stage, sitting on bar stools just playing for the audience...cigarettes in the ash trays billowing swirls of smoke as glasses clink in the background. For the first time a female vocal can be heard along with mark. It is Liz Burns who lends her voice, its not very up in your face, but its there. Phil Sparks returns on the bass for “Day and Night” and Terry Yohn plays the harmonica parts which can be heard from the start. The vocals are primarily with the acoustic guitar with the harmonica washing in at times. Personally I find this track to be a challenge to listen to for some reason, it just seems almost “beyond heavy” emotionally. Hard to really describe. We don't perk up that much as “Praying Ground” starts. Again the piano and single guitar seem to be Lanegans go to accompaniment and big change come in the closing track “Because of This”. It feels like a band really wants to get rolling. Its nice to hear a drum get hit, a guitar seem to get struck a little harder. A blend of this on the record would have been nice, but it sounds good overall. The subtle instruments seem to wrestle and the cool fade down, before bringing everyone up and Marks final vocal run are top notch. It is so cool they do it twice.

Where are they now? - Mark released a new solo album in February of 2012.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) – I have never seen a “solo” Mark Lanegan show. He doesn't seem to tour the east coast, or the US for that matter as a solo artist. I've seen him in guest slots with Queens of the Stone Age and have seen the Screaming Trees, but a solo Mark show continues to be on the “bucket list”.

FDF Overall Take – As noted I think Mark has one of the best voices in music. There is just something so honest, and just awesome in his vocals. The solo stuff early on is very similar. Mark was doing a trio of records at the time, and as “nice” as they are you may not win a ton of friends trying to get them to listen. Mark was doing something he wanted to do and its his voice and support cast that help make the records even better. I use the line “you won't throw this record on to get the party started” and this is a key time to use that line. Still, his voice just destroys my insides and I'd suggest any and all of his records to the person willing to give it a chance.

Official page is here.

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

You can still find the album, even right here.


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