Screaming Trees: Anthology LP
Understandably, Screaming Trees gained far more attention during the '90s, caught up as that decade was in the Nirvana fallout and the fluke (but well-deserved) success of "Nearly Lost You." But the band's '80s efforts are worth a listen, and Anthology, cherry-picking from the three SST albums as well as the Other Worlds EP that preceded them, is a fair enough place to start. As is the case with just about all the other SST comps put out over the years, this is fairly sparsely presented and packaged -- no reminiscences or rare photos, no otherwise unavailable rarities, just some basic production and selection notes. But one can audibly hear the band changing over time, not least because the initial Other Worlds selections and a fair amount of the Even if and Especially When cuts are such well-scrubbed American post-punk of the mid-'80s. It's hard to hear Mark Lanegan's relatively higher and kinder drawl as being from the same, harrowing persona showcased on his solo debut, The Winding Sheet, five years later, but that's change and development for you. The shift from Steve Fisk to Jack Endino in particular does make the band sound more typically "Seattle" in the sense that eventually became famous, but the groundwork was already laid with such fine songs as "Grey Diamond Desert," a beautiful if wracked ballad. With the advent of CD burning, an aficionado could easily put together an enjoyable enough compilation from these years that wouldn't have the same track listing, but Anthology is still a reasonable enough find for a newcomer wanting to know more.