Mark Lanegan's solo albums are sufficiently dissimilar in tone from those of his regular group, Screaming Trees, to make listeners wonder where his true interests lie.
His records often employ a much more acoustic tone, and address much more serious, personal concerns. Despite ample critical acclaim, Lanegan always kept the Screaming Trees his primary concern (that is, until their breakup). The original plan for Lanegan's first solo recording was to do an EP of blues songs with Nirvana's Kurt Cobain and Chris Novoselic, as well as Screaming Trees drummer Mark Pickerel. That didn't work out, and The Winding Sheet ended up being recorded with Pickerel, guitarist Mike Johnson (later bassist in Dinosaur Jr.), and noted producer Jack Endino on bass. Released in 1990, the album included a cover of the Leadbelly folk number "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?" from the aborted sessions with Cobain and Novoselic; it became the basis for Nirvana's version on MTV Unplugged. Despite a good reception from the underground, it took until 1994 for Lanegan's brilliantly assured follow-up, Whiskey for the Holy Ghost, to surface, which again featured Johnson in a prominent role. Afterwards, Lanegan once again returned to Screaming Trees for what proved to be the band's final album, 1996's Dust. With the Trees on hiatus, Lanegan resumed his solo career with 1998's Scraps at Midnight, which followed in the vein of its predecessors. The follow-up appeared much more quickly this time; 1999's I'll Take Care of You was a quietly stunning covers album drawing on Lanegan's interest in roots music. Two years later, Field Songs arrived.
In November of 2003, after a short stint as vocalist with Queens of the Stone Age (he sang on the album Songs for the Deaf and appeared as part of the subsequent tour), the newly formed Mark Lanegan Band released Here Comes That Weird Chill: Methamphetamine Blues, Extras, and Oddities, an EP that anticipated the Lanegan Band's first full-length album, Bubblegum. Featuring guest appearances from Polly Jane Harvey, the Afghan Whigs' Greg Dulli, Josh Homme, Nick Oliveri of QOTSA, and former Guns N' Roses members Izzy Stradlin and Duff McKagan, Bubblegum was released in August of 2004. In 2008, Lanegan, who had at this point been collaborating on and off with QOTSA and recorded albums with Belle & Sebastian's Isobel Campbell (2006's Ballad of the Broken Seas, 2008's Sunday at Devil Dirt) and the Soulsavers (2007's It's Not How Far You Fall, It's the Way You Land), released Saturnalia as part of the duo the Gutter Twins (whose other member was none other than Greg Dulli, with whom he'd been touring as part of Dulli's outfit the Twilight Singers for the past couple of years). 2012's Blues Funeral found Lanegan drawing inspiration from the past six years, and included appearances by Dulli and Josh Homme. Recorded in Hollywood by Eleven's Alain Johannes, the album was released on February 7, 2012. His next project was a collaborative album with iconoclastic multi-instrumentalist and composer Duke Garwood. Entitled Black Pudding, it was issued by Ipecac in May of 2013. Lanegan returned later that year to release a collection of cover versions. Entitled Imitations, it touchingly featured songs that he remembered from his childhood, it included versions of songs by artists such as Neil Diamond, Hall & Oates, Neil Sedaka as well as Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and The Twilight Singers. ~ Richie Unterberger & Steve Huey, Rovi