Tuesday, January 09, 2007

album of the day

Dust by Screaming Trees.

One of the greatest and yet most neglected of the early-90's Seattle grunge bands, probably because they weren't really a grunge band at all. Then again who was? If you mean those who rode in on the coat-tails of Nirvana, well....Nirvana were a pop-punk band very much in the vein of the Pixies (Kurt Cobain was on record as saying that he was afraid Smells Like Teen Spirit would be written off as a shameless Pixies rip-off), but their successors were either rubbish metal bands in ripped jeans (Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots), excellent metal bands in ripped jeans (Soundgarden) or vehicles for insane guitar virtuosos (Dinosaur Jr.). Screaming Trees fitted into none of those categories. Their classic bluesy, trippy, psychedelic rock sound is more reminiscent of Cream and Led Zeppelin than any of their contemporaries; you wouldn't be totally surprised to turn this CD over and find that it was released in 1971 (actually it was 1996).

The Zeppelin connection is instantly apparent on the opener Halo Of Ashes; lots of swirling Middle Eastern strings, sitar and guitars with Mark Lanegan howling away over the top - it's not the most instantly appealing of introductions, but stick with it and the sequence of songs which follows - All I Know, Look At You, Dying Days, Make My Mind, Sworn And Broken - is pretty much faultless. Witness, Traveler and Dime Western aren't quite up to that standard, but show off Lanegan's extraordinary voice to good effect, and the closing Gospel Plow is a nicely cathartic blues-metal blast to finish with. There really isn't a duff track on the album. And anyone who doesn't get the hair standing up on the back of their neck on hearing the stinging guitar break two and a half minutes into Make My Mind will have to sit back, take a long hard look at themselves, and conclude that they fundamentally just don't like rock music very much.

This is another one that's ludicrously cheap on Amazon - £4.97. Chicken feed for one of the great rock albums of the 1990's.

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