Review Revue: Mark Lanegan - The Winding Sheet

Review Revue
Levi Fuller

I have a confession to make: I am just now listening to Mark Lanegan's solo debut, The Winding Sheet, for the first time. I know, I should probably turn in my Seattle Rock Card (where did I put that damn thing, anyway?). I'm 38, I've lived here for 13 years; I have no excuse. Of course I've heard a lot of Lanegan over the years, from witnessing a transfixing live performance in Dublin (long story); to greatly enjoying his collaborations over the years with Queens of the Stone Age, Isobel Campbell, and others; to digging into at least a couple of the four solo albums he's released in the past two years. Needless to say, Lanegan is a Seattle Rock institution, and well deserving of the title.

But in 1990 he was a different figure, known only for his career fronting the grunge godfathers Screaming Trees. KCMU DJs were understandably surprised to hear this deep, dark, personal record from someone they'd known only as a rock singer - and a label that they had not previously associated with acoustic guitars and contemplative lyrics. The surprise, overall, seems to have been a pleasant one. There's a lot to enjoy in these comments; I particularly appreciate the parenthetical "(Nirvana)" after a reference to Kurt Cobain, which does a lot to place these comments at a certain point in rock history.

"Has more in common w/Nick Drake or Thin White Rope than his work w/The Screaming Trees. Produced by Endino & that surprised me, too. This leans more toward the folk side of the rock spectrum than the garage/grunge side. Less typical Sub Pop than the Walkabouts even.

"1-2 & 1-3 are very cool. The violin on 1-3 is great. No liner notes here [Here you go. -ed], but Mark Pickerel (Trees) is on drums, & Kurt Kobain (Nirvana) contributes guitar. I don't know who plays on what tho'.

"Mark is not always the main songwriter in the Trees, & these songs are different - darker & more personal. His voice sounds great throughout.

"1-5 sounds a little like the Screaming Trees. I think Kurt plays guitar on this track. 1-6 is very sad. All of side 2 sounded good, esp. 2-5. 2-6 is a wierd & slightly disturbing piece that fades out fairly quickly & includes the phrase, "blow job." You've been warned! That aside, this is excellent."

"I like 1-6 & 1-4."

"2-5 is a Leadbelly tune - cool!" [That Leadbelly tune is "Where Did You Sleep Last Night, which Nirvana of course went on to play on their hugely popular MTV Unplugged session.]

"'Where Did U Sleep Last Night': Scrumtious goddam fujiyama-san makin' my hair folicles sweat!!!"

"'Undertow' is compelling... compelling to listen very closely to."

"This is great, we have it and I've listened to it often. Glad it's in H!"

"Don't forget, we've got the CD now."

"This is really beautiful! So well orchestrated. This should be in H for a long time! P.S. Odd thing for Jack to produce."

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