The Screaming Trees Appreciation Society

Posted by Alan Kovan on June 01, 2019 (0 Comments)

It started with Buzz Factory.

The Screaming Trees were the first SST band I listened to who were drenched in psychedelia. Majestic swirling songs. With hooks. And heavy. Not a combination I was used to. It spoke to me.

Sure there were other heavy hitters on the SST roster. Sonic Youth, Husker Du, Dinosaur Jr, The Minutemen, Meat Puppets etc. No SST band floored me like the Screaming Trees.

One night they played the Bling Pig in Ann Arbor on the Buzz Factory tour and we arrived early. We saw Gary Lee Conner walking around and we approached him. He said he was looking for a decent place to eat. We were headed to Full Moon for beer and dinner and invited him along. He accepted. I guessing this was 1989-ish. Not one for much conversation but it was nice to take him out to dinner. He appreciated the gesture when we picked up his tab. They were fantastic that night. 

I was already a pretty big fan by the time Uncle Anesthesia came out in 1990. Their major label debut did not disappoint. The production was better for one. Every song on Uncle Anesthesia is fantastic. And that voice! It helped that we were friendly with Dave Gottlieb at Epic Records. He was also a fan. We were gifted loads of promo items and really sold thru a ton of Uncle Anesthesia. 

The follow up Sweet Oblivion in 1992 was even better. Better songs. Even better production. Nearly Lost You was the featured single from the semi hit movie Singles. And that voice! I was in NYC for the New Music Seminar and remember seeing the Trees at The Academy in the Broadway district one night and a few days later sitting with them at the screening of Singles. Bizarre but true. I was sent an advance tape of Sweet Oblivion which I took with me on a trip to Israel and Amsterdam in 1992. That tape was played every day in our hotel room at least twice with a Sony Walkman and speakers.

Why it took five years for Dust to be released I have no idea? My guess is that is what stopped their momentum as a band. Not all bands were made to last 20 years. The body of work the Screaming Trees left behind is truly breathtaking. Particularly the last four official records they released; Buzz Factory, Uncle Anesthesia, Sweet Oblivion and Dust. Even the b-sides that are on the deluxe expanded reissues of Sweet Oblivion and Dust are amazing.

My music obsessed friends and I often have these discussions about bands and eras. One that crops up is name a band who released three great albums in a row. The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Dylan, Velvet Underground always come up. Out of the 80's/90's though it is much harder. I have the Screaming Trees at the top of my list in that era. Up there with Echo & The Bunnymen. Three albums is hard enough. Four is even harder.

The Conner brothers with Mark Lanegan just worked so well together. Gary Lee Conner, the psychedelic brother and Van, the Black Sabbath brother and Mark Lanegan. All three influences worked some magic and while I don't hold out any hope of a reunion I am eternally grateful for the music they created.

Every time I pull out a Screaming Trees record it starts me on a binge that ends up with me playing everything. Well at least all four records mentioned in this blog.

I am not sure how many people will actually read this blog. I know a lot of my old record shop customers will. I know a lot of them feel the exact same way I do. I just wanted the band to know how appreciated they were then and still are now.


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