Features | Awards

The Raylan Givens Award for Manly Man Rock and Roll

By David M. Goldstein | 13 December 2011

Screaming Trees
Last Words: The Final Recordings
(Sunyata; 2011)

If you watch FX’s Justified, easily the best Western drama (maybe drama, period) on television right now, you’d know that Timothy Olyphant’s Raylan Givens doesn’t take shit from anybody. A throwback to the Eastwood-archetype, he wears ties with his flannels, drinks whiskey like water, and wears a ten gallon hat not because he’s a US Marshal, but because he knows it will make him irresistible to members of the opposite sex.

There was an early episode of Justified last season where Givens and his ex-wife take in a Dave Alvin concert: something both awesome and completely believable. I’m thinking Givens owns a lot of Mark Lanegan records too, and may have been one of seventeen people to actually purchase Last Words, the under-appreciated reissue of the “lost” final Screaming Trees album. Consisting of recordings from 1998 and 1999 and remastered by Jack Endino, it sounds dated in 2011 if only because all burly men these days are expected to wrap you in a blanket of warm reverb as opposed to kicking your ass down a flight of stairs.

Still, it’s easily as good as any of Screaming Trees’ “official” releases, rife with gnarly wah pedal solos and grinding power riffs over Lanegan’s doomsday croon. The man has put out numerous solo records and side projects since the dissolution of his ’90s outfit, but Lanegan was arguably at his best when backed by the full throttle roar of the brothers Conner. Highly recommended for pick-up truck rides over the Harlan County line.