In my humble opinion, Mark Lanegan has never made a bad album in his entire life. I wasn’t 100% crazy about the Screaming Trees, but as a solo artist, and in his collaborations with Isobel Campbell, Duke Garwood and other artists, he has yet to make a misstep.
I’ve been going around saying this for years, so in an apparent effort to make a liar out of me, he released “Still Life with Roses – Gargoyle Remixes” today. It takes five songs from his last release, “Gargoyle,” and puts them in the hands of such producers as Andrew Weatherall, Adrian Sherwood and Pye Corner Audio, who give the songs the robot disco treatment that is de rigeur for remix albums.
I have always considered the remix album to be a cash grab, redolent with artistic uselessness. Against all odds, Lanegan has made an enjoyable, listenable, if not entirely essential offering out of his instead. Kudos to him!
To his credit, he did the same thing a couple of years ago with “Houston Publishing Demos 2002,” a collection of demos for songs that have turned up throughout his career. While most demos albums are really only for completists, he made an engaging one when he stepped up to the plate, and he’s done the same thing here.
The original “Gargoyle” album, which was released in April, went into more goth-ish territory than Lanegan usually goes in for. To be honest, if it had come out in 1986, it would have been my favorite album of that year. Given the tendency of that material to recall the bi-level haircut, let’s-cut-class-and-go-to-the-Sheep’s-Meadow years, it’s a good choice for this type of remix treatment. It probably wouldn’t work with any of his other albums.
If you’re not familiar with Lanegan’s work and want to see what he sounds like, “Still Life with Roses – Gargoyle Remixes” is about the last place you should start. But if you’re a committed fan and you don’t believe his songs are sacrosanct cultural pillars that must never be altered, then this album is a fine way to spend 40 minutes.
If you’re not familiar with Lanegan’s work and want to see what he sounds like, “Still Life with Roses – Gargoyle Remixes” is about the last place you should start.