There are unsung heroes of rock and roll, and then there are complicated cases like Mark Lanegan. The Washington State-born rocker with the voice like a shifting fog earned a spot in rock history as singer for the 1990s slacker psychedelic group the Screaming Trees — remember “Nearly Lost You”? Since those hair-tossing days, Lanegan has kept his credibility fresh by releasing occasional solo albums (last year’s Blues Funeral was beat-driven and moodily wonderful), working with bands like Queens of the Stone Age and making leather-and-lace duets with various female singers, most notably Isobel Campbell, formerly of indie favorites Belle and Sebastian. This man doesn’t have to worry about being forgotten.
Yet describing Lanegan as a cult figure fails to communicate how very busy — and relevant — he keeps himself. At 48, he’s hitting a creative peak, collaborating with a startling variety of artists across the musical spectrum. On Record Store Day, he’ll release a single with electronic music doyen Moby. He’s on the upcoming QOTSA album, and his band is currently touring with Nick Cave. He’s done children’s music, dipped into country and embraced electronica.
And Lanegan hasn’t forgotten his roots. Today sees the release of the deluxe reissue of Above,the 1995 album from Seattle supergroup Mad Season; Lanegan provides vocals and lyrics on three newly completed tracks. Here’s a playlist celebrating the many endeavors of Mark Lanegan, the hardest working secret star in the rock biz.