Mark Lanegan & Duke Garwood

Black Pudding

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.

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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 is both muse and musician’s musician, with both voice and influence growing deeper and deeper. This makes his statement that working with Duke Garwood on Black Pudding has been one of the “best experiences of my recording life” all the more remarkable.

Garwood is an English multi-instrumentalist who has played with The Orb, Archie Bronson Outfit and most recently contributed clarinet to ‘Marshall Dear’, one of the highlights of Savages’ debut. Lanegan met Duke on tour a few years back and, suitably impressed, had him play on his much admired Blues Funeral record.

On Black Pudding, Duke Garwood is to Lanegan what Warren Ellis is to Nick Cave. He adds creepy, sombre atmosphere to tracks like ‘Shade of The Sun’ and on ‘Thank You’ wouldn’t have felt out of place on this year’s sublime Bad Seeds effort Push The Sky Away. To this tangible atmosphere, Lanegan adds gravelly gravitas to recall Waits at his best on After Hours. It’s a frustrating, clever number that leaves you wanting more, a trick also poignantly achieved on ‘War Memorial’, a song that similarly ends in a tantalising semi-colon.

There’s some pop on Black Pudding too, and some electronic intervention. ‘Mescalito’ brings to mind more recent revitalised forays by ZZ Top in tone, if not in speed, and on the surprising ‘Cold Molly’ it all goes a bit Stevie Wonder meets Dub Narcotic. The highlight has to be ‘Pentecostal’ in which you could imagine Lanegan singing like an Appalachian preacher man, desperately trying to reclaim souls. Like the whiskey that is often used to describe as soaking Lanegan’s larynx, his music just gets better and better with age. Together with Duke Garwood, on Black Pudding he’s created something rich and delicious.

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