Eventually I’ll get around to holiday music, not this week. This week I thought I’d dig out a couple of bands I really loved that seem to have faded into obscurity. Now that their 15 minutes have passed, it’s time to dig them out again, dust them off and re-examine what it was I liked so much about them in the first place. Music re-discovery is a great way to spend an hour or two in my opinion and while it often brings back memories it also lets me lend a fresh ear to old favorites. So… first up this week are the Screaming Trees. If I recall (because no I’m not going to research this) they’re from Seattle, they were around long before the other ‘grunge’ bands were, but never had more than a small, tight-knit following. I really love Mark Lanegan’s voice and the brothers Conner (Van and Gary Lee) were always fun to watch. They put out a slew of records on SST Records but like most indie record labels there isn’t much $$ to support the band and it wasn’t until they signed to Sony in the 90’s during the grunge heyday that they actually got some radio play. Sweet Oblivion was their first album on Sony and the title track is probably one of my favorites. The big hit from that record the one that got a lot of radio play after it was in that awful movie Singles, Nearly Lost You. Dollar Bill and Something About Today are two more that really speak to me.
I saw the Trees play a few times, but never met Mark or Gary Lee. I did spend a couple of nights hanging out with Van Conner when he played bass for Dinosaur Jr. the tour they opened for Jane’s Addiction. We caught the show in Tucson and then made plans for the next night in Tempe. The night of the Tempe show was the birthday of a friend, so we brought the band to her party. Most of that night is a little fuzzy, but I remember a fairly lengthy conversation with Van about the punk scene in Utah in the 80’s since I was there and the Trees played there frequently. He insisted that the SLC punk kids were more hardcore than their counterparts across the country, that most of the other ‘punk scenes’ were full of posers. He figured it may be because they had to overcome a lot to be a punk in Utah. He scored a lot of points with that ;)
Next up… The Orb. Ohhh sooo much to say about The Orb. I had the great pleasure of seeing them in an abandoned warehouse area in downtown Phoenix. I remember cement walls with videos projected on them, multiple rooms with ‘themes’, smoke and lights and a throbbing beat that didn’t let up for hours. There was a brief freak out when I became really upset at the screaming I was certain was coming from the alley behind the club. It took my friend Chris a bit to convince me the screaming was just another sample and not some girl being assaulted. The Orb was my favorite artist to play when we decided to watch Fractal Fantasy for a few hours. Everyone knows the hit Little Fluffy Clouds it’s what got everyone’s attention. In truth if you like the layered sound, beats and trippy headspace in one song, you’ll probably like most everything. Here are a couple of my favorites, with some cool videos. Towers of Dub (Original Mix). I always close my eyes when I hear this song A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain that Rules from the Center of the Ultraworld.One of the brilliant things about DJ’s is they not only make their own music they really like mixing and remixing and reworking other people’s stuff… some of the best Orb songs are remixes of someone else’s stuff or someone remixing theirs. Here are a couple of cool variants. Toxygene and from the Peel Sessions (my favorite cd) Into The Fourth Dimension.
Even though they’re not as visible as they once were, The Orb is still working, still making music and doing it with friends. They reworked a couple of classic Pink Floyd songs and then recorded with David Gilmour. Metallic Spheres.