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Mark Lanegan

Mark Lanegan first entered the public eye as the charismatic long-haired frontman of the Ellensburg, Washington psych-grunge quartet the Screaming Trees, who enjoyed modest commercial success with their 1992 album, Sweet Oblivion as beneficiaries of the post-Nirvana feeding frenzy that took place in the Pacific Northwest at that time. But internal dissensions coupled with frustration over the Trees' inability to enjoy the big-time popularity of some of their Seattle peers (Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam) have resulted in several breakups and only one release since Sweet Oblivion, 1996's Dust.

Meanwhile, Lanegan has established himself as a prolific, talented singer-songwriter with his haunting bluesy tales of woe and regret. His sandpapery baritone is perfect for the acoustic, confessional mode of most of his solo work, a completely distinctive, weary and resigned croon that will invariably send a sweet sad shiver through you as he ponders the mysteries of solitude, pain, and regret. The production on his folksy, slightly twangy songs is subtle and simple, keeping the focus on that remarkable voice.

Lanegan released four solo albums during the 90s, all on Sub Pop: 1990's The Winding Sheet, 1994's Whiskey for the Holy Ghost, and 1998's Scraps at Midnight all consist of original material, while on 1999's I'll Take Care of You, Lanegan reworks some of his favorites in his strikingly reedy, lonesome, blues-at-midnight style. He does the same thing with the featured number, "Cripple Creek," which was written by psychedelic blues great Skip Spence, who was a member of Moby Grape and recorded a single solo album before mental illness forced him into seclusion for the rest of his life. The song comes from the 1999 Birdman Records tribute to Spence, More Oar.

You can also check out Spence covers by Robert Plant, Beck, and Tom Waits.

The new millennium finds Lanegan continuing to explore his haunted take on the blues via collaborations with Isobel Campbell (of Belle and Sebastian) and albums like Field Songs, Bubblegum, and most recently, Blues Funeral.