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Mark Lanegan’s ‘Bubblegum’ Reissue to Include Beck Collaboration, Unreleased Hotel Room Demos

A 20th-anniversary reissue of Mark Lanegan‘s celebrated Bubblegum album — fittingly retitled Bubblegum XX — will include demos, outtakes, and previously unreleased recordings. The rarities include a recording with Beck, “Union Tombstone,” and a handful of songs he recorded in a hotel room with Queens of the Stone Age’s Troy Van Leeuwen. The collection, which comes out Aug. 23 via Beggars Arkive and Lanegan’s estate, will be the artist’s posthumous release following his death in 2022.

Bubblegum, which came out Aug. 10, 2004, reinvigorated the former Screaming Trees frontman’s solo career thanks to thicker, messier production and sharp, dark-hued songs that featured many notable guests. “I got tired of reading stuff about my records like ‘folky and alt-country,’” Lanegan told Rolling Stone in 2003. “I thought of this as a rock record.” Co-produced with desert rock impresario Chris Goss and multi-instrumentalist Alain Johannes, the album includes contributions from PJ Harvey, the Afghan Whigs’ Greg Dulli, sometime Guns N’ Roses members Izzy Stradlin and Duff McKagan, and Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme, Van Leewuen, Nick Oliveri, and David Catching, among many others.

“When he told me: ‘I’m calling it Bubblegum,’ I was like, you’re a sick fuck, because I knew him, so that’s funny to me, ’cause Lanegan wanted to be a new piece of bubblegum on a sunny, happy day,” Homme said in a statement for Bubblegum XX. “But he was the gum underneath the desk. He was the bubblegum underneath the table. He was the ‘Dark Lord.’” (Homme was Streaming Trees’ rhythm guitarist, and Lanegan recorded guest vocals and toured with Queens of the Stone Age.)

The release will be available as a four-LP or three-CD set and will also come out digitally. All of the music, including the original album and the EP Here Comes That Weird Chill (Methamphetamine Blues, Extras & Oddities), which was a double-LP set, has been remastered at Abbey Road. Twelve of the 40 tracks in the collection have never come out before.

Seven of the rarities are outtakes, including “Union Tombstone,” which Lanegan wanted Beck to record on at the time. Beck was working on another album of his own at the time, likely 2005’s Guero, and wasn’t able to record his part but Beck recorded vocals and harmonica to the track earlier this year to complete it.

The rest of the unreleased music is recordings Lanegan made with Van Leeuwen in various hotel rooms. “These hotel demo sessions were basically forgotten,” Van Leeuwen said in a statement. “When I heard the news of Mark’s passing, these memories started rushing back to me. I searched through my archive of drives and somehow magically was able to open up these sessions. … It’s a true gift from Mark to those of us who love him and his unvarnished expression of beauty. With every listen, I am humbled and honored to share his gift with you.”

The limited-edition vinyl set includes a 64-page hardback booklet that includes essays by many of Lanegan’s friends and collaborators, including Van Leeuwen, Homme, Goss, Johannes, Catching, Dulli, McKagan, and Brett Netson. It also includes studio notes and photography by Steve Gullick, including previously unpublished pictures.

The original Bubblegum album will also be reissued on transparent red vinyl and black vinyl as double-LPs, retitled Bubblegum XX.

Lanegan, who chronicled his experiences with drugs in vivid detail in his 2020 memoir Sing Backwards and Weep, recorded the album between stints in rehab. Many of the songs make reference to drug use, which he openly spoke about at the time. “Every one of these goddamn songs is about [drugs], and when I’m talking about love, it’s not a human love,” he told CMJ New Music Monthly in 2004. “But that’s just me. And luckily, some people can connect to this shit, this music, that aren’t junkies. But I always figured that I was making this music for my own people.” In the same interview, he said, “Today, I’m good, my quality of life today is really good, and I’m OK with that.”

Bubblegum XX four-LP edition track list:

Bubblegum:

A1. “When Your Number Isn’t Up”
A2. “Hit the City” feat. PJ Harvey
A3. “Wedding Dress”
A4. “Methamphetamine Blues”
B1. “One Hundred Days”
B2. “Bombed”
B3. “Strange Religion”
B4. “Sideways In Reverse”
C1. “Come to Me” feat. PJ Harvey
C2. “Like Little Willie John”
C3. “Can’t Come Down”
D1. “Morning Glory Wine”
D2. “Head”
D3. “Driving Death Valley Blues”
D4. “Out of Nowhere”

Here Comes That Weird Chill” (Methamphetamine Blues, Extras & Oddities):

A1. “Methamphetamine Blues”
A2. “On The steps of the Cathedral”
A3. “Clear Spot”
A4. “Message to Mine”
A5. “Lexington Slow Down”
A6. “Skeletal History”
B1. “Wish You Well”
B2. “Sleep With Me”
B3. “Sleep With Me – Version…”
B4. “Sympathy” (previously only available on the Has God Seen My Shadow anthology)
B5. “Mirrored” (B side from “Hit the City” single)
B6. “Mud Pink Skag” (B side from “Hit the City” single)

Demos & Unreleased Songs:

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A1. “Heard a Train” *
A2. “Union Tombstone” feat. Beck *
A3. “Josephine” *
A4. “Kingdom” *
A5. “Soldier” *
A6. “Little Willie John” * (Alternate version of “Like Little Willie John”)
A7. “Blood (Crackers & Honey)” *
B1. “You Wild Colorado” ** (Johnny Cash cover)
B2. “Revolver” ** original demo of a song eventually recorded with Isobel Campbell
B3. “Leaving New River Blues” ** (previously only available on the Has God Seen My Shadow
Anthology as “Heaven Is Dry”)
B4. “St. James Infirmary” **
B5. “Willie John” ** (Alternate version of “Like Little Willie John”)
B6. “Pure Religion” ** (Alternate version of “Strange Religion”)

* outtake
** Troy Van Leeuwen Hotel session

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