Monday, January 14, 2008

Screaming Trees

I toured with The Screaming Trees in 92 or 93 (can’t quite remember) when they played on The Big Day out. A blur now for me, put these guys and The Ministry together and all kinds of shit went down. The band fought like cats and dogs and only really saw each other when they played. Still I think I had fun and The ST remain one of my favourite bands.

Where many of their Seattle-based contemporaries dealt in reconstructed Black Sabbath and Stooges riffs, Screaming Trees fused '60s psychedelia and garage rock with '70s hard rock and '80s punk. Over the course of their career, their more abrasive punk roots eventually gave way to a hard-edged, rootsy psychedelia that drew from rock and folk equally. After releasing several albums on indie labels like SST and Sub Pop, Screaming Trees moved to Epic Records in 1989.

Though they were one of the first Seattle bands to sign with a major label, the group never attained the popularity of fellow Northwestern bands (and friends) like Nirvana and Soundgarden, largely due to their erratic work schedule. Throughout their career, the Trees were notorious for drinking and fighting, which caused them to break up briefly at several points in their career. Nevertheless, the band managed to cultivate a dedicated following, which included not only fans, but also fellow musicians. Brothers Van Conner (bass) and Gary Lee Conner (guitar) formed Screaming Trees with Mark Lanegan (vocals) in the mid-'80s. Lanegan and the Conners grew up in Ellensburg, WA, a small college-town some 90 miles from Seattle. The trio were the only people in their high school who listened to punk, garage rock, and independent music, so they eventually gravitated toward each other.

After falling out with the Conners before either completed school, Lanegan contacted Van Conner several years later. By that point, Van had a band with a singer named Mark Pickerel; the pair had recently kicked Lee Conner out of the band, so they invited Lanegan to sit in on drums. Eventually, Lee re-joined the group and they settled on a lineup that featured Lee on guitar, Van on bass, Lanegan on vocals, and Pickerel on drums.

Here I offer three hard to come by early releases.

Beat Happening/Screaming Trees

1988, 4 song EP (Homestead US, HMS-110; and 53rd & 3rd UK, AGARR 020 T)

1. Sea Babies 2. Tales of Brave Aphrodite 3. Polly Pereguin 4. I Dig You

Buzz Factory
1989, LP

1. Where The Twain Shall Meet (3:27) 2. Windows (2:41) 3. Black Sun Morning (5:00) 4. Too Far Away (3:34) 5. Subtle Poison (3:50) 6. Yard Trip #7 (2:08) 7. Flower Web (3:39) 8. Wish Bringer (3:03) 9. Revelation Revolution (2:39) 10. The Looking Glass Cracked (3:33) 11. End Of The Universe (5:49)

Change Has Come
1989, 5-track EP on two 7"s (Sub Pop SP 48; and Glitterhouse Records)

Change Has Come (3:21) b/w Days (3:51) Flashes (3:50) b/w Time Speaks Her Golden Tongue (3:37) and I've Seen You Before (3:12)

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