Although finding mainstream success with the release of “Sweet Oblivion”, and the single ‘Nearly Lost You’ from the soundtrack to Cameron Crowes’s film “Singles”, the Screaming Trees’ history goes back to 1985, predating many of their Grunge-era, Seattle peers.
Formed in Ellensburg, Washington state, around the nucleus of brothers Garry Lee Conner (guitar) and Van Conner (bass), and fronted by the sonorous tones of Mark Lanegan, they recorded four albums and numerous singles for such grunge movers and shakers as Sub Pop and SST, before signing a major label deal with Sony's Epic Records. Releasing the Chris Cornell (Soundgarden) produced “Uncle Anaesthesia” in 1991, it was followed by “Sweet Oblivion” the following year, by which time they had been joined by drummer Barrett Martin (REM, Mad Season, Queens Of The Stoneage & Walking Papers).
Initial recordings for a follow-up in 1994 were scrapped before the band teamed up with producer George Drakoulias (Black Crowes, Tom Petty, Primal Scream). “Dust” emerged in July 1996, featuring guest spots from Benmont Tench, on loan from Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, and Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready. Mixed by Andy Wallace (Nirvana, Jeff Buckley, White Zombie), the album kicks off with the visceral ‘Halo Of Ashes’, driven by Garry Lee Conner’s electric sitar, followed by the psychedelic single, ‘All I Know’ and the plaintive ‘Sworn And Broken’. The album ends with a drone for the formidable ‘Gospel Plow’.
Among the bonus tracks that make up CD 2, are non-album B-Sides ‘Wasted Time’ and ‘Silver Tongue’, live versions of ‘Butterfly’, ‘Sworn And Broken’ and ‘Dollar Bill’, plus a version of ‘Darkness Darkness’ which was originally recorded for the “True Lies” motion picture soundtrack. Also included are very rare studio versions of Tim Rose’s ‘Morning Dew’, plus a cover of ‘Freedom’, originally recorded by cult Australian hard rockers, Buffalo.
As the band split in 2000, “Dust” would turn out to be their final, official album, with the exception of the posthumously released “Last Words: The Final Recordings” in 2011. The individual members would follow various solo careers, most notably Mark Lanegan, who as well as producing a number of very well received solo records, has collaborated with artists as diverse as Belle & Sebastian’s Isobel Campbell and Queens Of the Stoneage.
As well as plenty of rare memorabilia, the booklet also includes liner notes from Matt Reynolds, who worked as the Screaming Trees’ press officer during the release of “Dust”.
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