Friday, December 23, 2011

EP Review: Mark Kozelek – Rock ‘N’ Roll Singer


Mark Kozelek released this EP in 2000, his first non-Red House Painters release and his first release for 4 years. It came as something of a bolt from the blue. The emphasis here is very much on his guitar playing, showing the way for future releases.

There are only 7 songs here, less than half an hour’s worth, and only 3 tracks were written by Kozelek. But some artists have just got it. Opener Find Me, Ruben Olivares has a sunny, intricate guitar pattern, and is probably one of the more fleshed out tracks here.

The EP also saw the beginning of his ACDC fixation. Three of the tracks covered here are ACDC songs (Bon Scott period). They are pretty much unrecognizable from the originals, like most of Kozelek’s cover versions. Rock ‘N’ Roll Singer, the title track, is the only track here that qualifies as anything like an anthem, albeit a downbeat and dirty brooding anthem.

The other 2 ACDC tracks (You Ain’t Got A Hold On Me and Bad Boy Boogie) are stripped down acoustic gloom tracks, the first of which features Kozelek’s falsetto. It’s kind of amusing to hear the Young brothers and Bon Scott’s rock lyrics in this setting (“being bad ain’t that bad, I’ve known more pretty women than most men have” from Bad Boy Boogie).

He also covers John Denver’s Around and Around, and finds time for originals Metropol 47 and Ruth Marie, which have deceptively simple melodies, almost sounding underwritten. What rhythm is here is provided completely by Mark Kozelek’s guitar playing.

What seemed like a quite baffling EP at the time actually set the tone for his post-Red House Painters career, as he painted himself out of the corner he appeared to be in, and with Sun Kil Moon or as himself, did whatever the hell he liked.