Even if and especially if you havent heard it...
Kelly Holsten | Wrightsville Beach, NC USA | 09/08/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Screaming Trees are now a semi-household name and have been together since the mid 80s. Most people have come to know them from their last few albums, never witnessing the early days before things started to cave in and become rather perfunctory from this vantage point. I can tell you this, the Screaming Trees of the 80s and very early 90s was one of the BEST live bands ever to grace the small club venue! I first saw them in 1987 when opening for firehose. This was the tour for "Even if and Especially When." It was the Cat's Cradle in Chapel Hill, NC and the place was abuzz in anticipation of Mike Watt's firehose. Well, let me just say that from the first note of "Straight out to any place," the crowd was IN SHOCK! The Screaming Trees EXPLODED on stage and easily were the hit of the evening, receiving the longest and loudest ovation I can remember, and this for an opening band! They did not quit until firehose came out and emptied over four cans of "silly string" over the entire band... They even played on for a few mintues more! Quite simply, if you were lucky to see the Screaming Trees in the mid to late 80s, you saw one of the best live bands of that decade.Their first album was "Clairvoyance" released on Velvetone. With that success, SST got them going with "Even If and Especially when" which, despite what Major Tom says, is one of my favorite albums from this band. Its mixture of Gary Lee Connor's psychedelic guitar, Van Conner's walking bass, Mark Pickerel's back beat, and Mark Lanegan's "Jim Morrison" induced vocals were infectious to say the least. The songs swirl with layered textures and funky electric organ. Great cuts include "World Painted" "Transfiguration" "Don't Look Down" and "Cold Rain." The album was actually recorded at Velvetone in the band's home town of Ellensburg, WA with Steve Fisk producing. The following album was Invisible Lantern, which had some excellent songs, even if the mix was a bit muffled. Buzz Factory followed this release but by this time, Mark Pickerel was being forced out of the band. I saw them in NYC on a barge and Pickerel was in the audience. I liked the guy and he seemed distressed that he was no longer part of the picture. I thought they went downhill from this time on, losing a bit of the feeling and innocence of the early years.By the way, the Screaming Trees early material loses a lot of soul via CD. It's best to find this in vinyl is possible; the difference is not subtle.kh"
Everything rock was supposed to be & wasn't...
Kelly Holsten | 02/02/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"'Trees were the most criminally overlooked band of the "GRUNGE" revolution, which makes little sense seeing as how, on this LP as with so many of their others, they were the ideal rock & roll band. The Van Conner bros. guitars tumble and crunch in all the right places, Barrett Martin always pops in with the head-spinning backbeat, and singer Mark Lanegan, with his smoky baritone and hallucinogenic lyrics, shows an almost preternatural instinct to frontmanning, dispayed in the fantastic 'Straight Thru To Any Place'. This album, with it's wacky keyboards, shows the band's sense of humour as hapless indie lads, and is not their most representive. But people who deem themselves true fans of modern rock, not to mention come-lately 'Trees fans, would be doing themselves a disservice not to hear this at least once."