Mark Kozelek Rock 'N' Roll Singer

With his band Red House Painters, the perpetually dreary Mark Kozelek has carved himself quite the niche for recording odd cover songs with his own down tempo panache. Over the years, RHP has given a good once-over to Simon and Garfunkel, Ace Frehley, Genesis, Wings and even the "Star Spangled Banner" Now free from his long-time label 4AD, Kozelek has set his sights on AC/DC on most of Rock 'N' Roll Singer, his first solo album. In addition to the title track, Kozelek also folks-up "You Ain't Got A Hold on Me" and "Bad Boy Boogie," all of which would be unrecognisable to fans of the originals. While his slow, dour approach to music may not be everyone's bag, there's a dark beauty in Kozelek's music and putting such a variety of songs onto a level playing field really accents the magic (or in many cases, the absurdity) of rock lyrics. Rock 'N' Roll Singer also features a couple of his own tracks and a John Denver song, "Around and Around." Yes, that's right, John Denver. Kozelek is no stranger to the country boy, having recently compiled a John Denver tribute CD, Take Me Home. This outstanding release collects a variety of artists paying homage to the late singer, including Low ("Back Home Again"), the Innocence Mission ("Follow Me") and Sunshine Club ("Annie's Song"). All the artists took this project very seriously and Kozelek assured fans that this CD was no joke - he felt Denver's music was misrepresented by the "hits" and that there were beautiful songs in his body of work that merited another look. Again, most of the tracks on Take Me Home will be unrecognisable, but in a way, that's the point. Red House Painters pitch in with versions of "Fly Away" and "I'm Sorry," and Kozelek offers a different version of "Around and Around," in which he duets with Mojave 3/Slowdive chanteuse Rachel Goswell. All in all, these make great companion CDs, regardless if you are a fan of Red House Painters' catalogue. The songs are treated with respect and there are moments of pure melancholic bliss on both CDs. (Badman)