Release Date: May 14, 2013
Record label: Ipecac
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
He made his name with Screaming Trees, and then enhanced it with appearances/ collaborations with Queens Of The Stone Age, the Afghan Whigs’ Greg Dulli (for both The Gutter Twins and The Twilight Singers), Soulsavers and Belle & Sebastian’s Isobel Campbell. But since 1990, Mark Lanegan has also been making lugubrious albums of his own which deserve just as much merit – if not more. Though technically a collaboration with English singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Duke Garwood, Black Pudding could well serve as Lanegan’s eighth solo album, following on nicely from last year’s sublime Blues Funeral.
In a room below me as I sit to write this review Sky Sports is showing the two dead teams walking in the football match between QRP and Reading. Last year Sigur Rós released their sixth studio album Valtari. Tonight Sky One will be showing a new episode of The Simpsons. Unsurprisingly, the football was a soporific 0-0 that sent both sides shift meekly out of the top division, Valtari was haunting, ethereal and pretty, and that Simpsons episode will not stand up next to 'Last Exit to Springfield'.
Where to begin with Mark Lanegan’s voice? It’s a melted-down chainsaw. Soft beams of light shooting across a bubbling tar pit. A rusted tractor set ablaze amidst heavy downpour. Rich. Ragged. Ridiculous. It’s also one of the most uniquely expressive voices in American music – arguably ….
For the past decade or so, Mark Lanegan has been on something of a mission to expand his sonic palette, both through his collaborations and in his solo work. Hard rock, electronica and country-folk have all factored into his sprawling repertoire of late, in turn distancing him more and more from the blues blueprint of his earliest solo records. The compulsive collaborator that he is, it isn’t as odd as it may initially seem that it took another such alliance with a fellow musician to bring him back to his roots.
Though Black Pudding marks the first time that singer Mark Lanegan and multi-instrumentalist Duke Garwood have recorded together, it isn't the first time they've collaborated. The latter toured with the Gutter Twins, Lanegan's project with Greg Dulli. Garwood's name isn't as well-known to the general public as the singer's, but his reputation among musicians certainly is.
In the 1980s and 90s, Mark Lanegan never seemed like he was going to be an old man. In the 21st century, however, it’s become nearly impossible to remember that Lanegan was ever young. In his review of Lanegan’s characteristically growly 2012 solo record Blues Funeral, Ian Cohen likened Lanegan to weathered classic-rockers like Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, and Leonard Cohen, and speculated that he “will be all but grandfathered into that Hall of Fame in 20 years.
Mark Lanegan likes his collaborations. From the obvious choices (Queens Of The Stone Age, Greg Dulli) to the more eyebrow-raising (Isobel Campbell of Belle and Sebastian), the former Screaming Trees frontman has always picked his musical partners with care, ensuring that both parties complement each others’ strengths. Black Pudding sees Lanegan linking up with the London-based multi-instrumentalist Duke Garwood, who has played with Archie Bronson Outfit and The Orb and released four solo albums under his own name.
The whiskey, blood, and holy water from last year’s estimable Blues Funeral had barely dried up when Mark Lanegan partnered with English bluesman Duke Garwood to record Black Pudding, an album that crawls, breathes, and refurbishes the acoustic blues of Lanegan’s early solo work. Here, as the shared billing suggests, Lanegan’s rugged voice and Garwood’s delicate playing intend to speak to each other. Only part of the time, though, do the two seem to be participating in the same conversation.
When I first heard 'Nearly Lost You' by Screaming Trees I was blown away by Mark Lanegan's luxurious baritone. By the time I got my mitts on the vinyl for Whiskey For The Holy Ghost, his second solo album for Sub Pop, I was totally sold on the depths both vocally and emotionally of a man who would become the Tom Waits of the Slackers generation. Click here to listen or buy from eMusic Here we are, nearly twenty years and many memorable collaborations later, ranging from his work with Isobel Campbell, Greg Dulli, Soulsavers and of course his inestimable contribution to what some would argue as Queens of the Stone Age's best work.
Mark Lanegan has been stalking the music industry with the hangman on his trail for what seems like a very sombre eternity since the heady days of the Screaming Trees. Perhaps now as well known for his collaborations as his own solo work, Lanegan’s teaming up with the equally nefarious Duke Garwood is only surprising in terms of the gulf in popularity between the two. ‘Black Pudding’ won’t alter this for either artist but then again, neither artist hardly expect it to: a dense, acoustic guitar driven lurch through Lanegan’s murky, wheezy blues is unlikely to send the duo into the stratosphere.Nor does it besmirch.