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MARK LANEGAN: SOULFULL TROUBADOUR PAR EXCELLENCE!
on 4 July 2004
Ill Take Care, Lanegans 4th studio album, is a collection of cover tracks ranging from 50s/60s Southern soul classics-Ill Take Care of You (Brook Benton), Consider Me (Eddie Floyd/ Booker T. Jones), & the lesser known On Jesus' Programme by O. V. Wright, through to 60s/ 70s folk country tracks Shiloh town (Tim Hardin), Creeping Coastline Of Lights (James Arthur Moreland/ Manfred Hofer), Badi Da (Fred Neil) who incidently penned the classic 'Everybodys Talkin' for Nilsson, made famous in classic 60s film Midnight Cowboy, Together Again (Buck Owens) 50s American white country singer, Shanty Mans Life (Stephen Harrison Paulus), Boogie Boogie (Tim Rose) & a more obscure traditional American folk song Little Sadie, for which the official credit is simply 'Traditional'.
What makes this offering such a stand out success is not only the unique & almost peculiar selection / genres pulled together, but the fact that each song is deliverd with the utmost sincerity, style, & above all authenticity, so much so that they seem to be custom made for the man himself. Lanegans 'vintage' throat carries with it the weight of experience that allows him to interpret the blues/ soul, on tracks whose original versions were executed by 'heavyweights' their respective genres. He not only manages to make them his own, but chooses songs that ooze a sense of mystery darkness & grace that define his musical core, such as the minimal Creeping Coastline with its dreamy lyrics " leaving Hollywood, sunset to the sea.. where the waves ride in on horses.. im lookin for her lights.. creeping coastline of lights.." underscored sparsely by an eerie xylaphone or glockenshpiel.
Ill Take Care Of You & Consider Me could so easily have sounded absurd in this age of soulless overproduced 'R&B' & 'predictable' rock, instead he takes a hoplessly sentimental romantic 50s crooner ballad of love hurt & loss, & makes it equally tender & stylish in a sort of masculine slightly gruff 'seen some hard times' kinda way, avoiding any steotype cliches. "I know you've been hurt by someone else.. I can tell by the way you carry yourself.. but if you let me heres what ill do.. ill take care of you.. Ive loved & lost same as you..." the accompanying flute & vibes lending an old school 60s soul atmosphere. All arrangements show complete respect to the originals, understanding the 'soul' of the songs, and allowing Marks vocals center stage. Minimal combinations of acoustic & elcectric guitar, flute, piano, upright bass, violin, virbaphone, percussion, organ etc, ensure an extremely classy production. The likes of Shiloh Town, Badi Da & in particular L Sadies 'gunslinger ballad', (one of my faves), suit Lanegan down to the ground, with its understated violin moments make you feel Lanegan should have been born in a different era! "..well I began to think what a deed I done.. grabbed my hat & I started to run..maybe ran just a little to slow.. & they over took me in Jehrico.. standin on the corner reading the bill upset the sherrif of Tomasville.. said young man is your name Lee Brown.. remember the night you brought Sadie down.. well yes I said my name's Lee Brown.. murderd little sadie in the first degree..first degree & a second degree.. got any papers read em'tew me.." Brilliant.
Marks acoustic cover of Jeffry Lee Pierces' (ex. blues/punk band The Gun Clubs front man) Carry Home, is as powerfull as it is bleak, brooding & moving. Jeffery LP as another reviewer mentions, a close friend of Lanegan whose collaborations, before his death, can also be heard on 2001s Fsongs.
Boogie Boogie is the most 'rocking' on here, though still hypnotic dark sleazy intoxicating blues rock, & is a sexy jam.
As another reviewer mentioned there is an all star cast of muscicians, Lanegans contemporaries/ friends & ex band members including his long time solo collaborator Mike Johnson (ex Dinasour Junior), who appeared on all solo projects up till 2001s Fsongs. If your musical leanings even remotely touch upon blues soul rock or country, I cannot recommend this enough! Worthy of a place next to any of Cashs' cover albums/ American Classics. However as an intro I would grab a copy of Fsongs- showcasing Marks own songwriting at its best, along with this & Whiskey FTHG, before the upcoming release Bubblegum out early August, which (if the HCTWChill ep is anything to go by) will hear Lanegan 'rocking out' a lot more, & continuing with his all star collaborators. All in all an excellent buy.. all this from the ex Screaming Trees frontman, part time QOTStoneAge vocalist/ songwriter, & all round one of the most unique & remarkable artists to emerge & evolve out of that whole 90s 'Seattle scene'. A truly mature & classy offering.