Red House Painters, Retrospective

Mark Kozelek is arguably one of the greatest songwriters of all time. And most humorously self-effacing. Which may be why this two-disc retrospective of his band, the Red House Painters, features – not one – but two cover versions of KISS’s ‘Shock Me.’

I mean, whoa.

But Retrospective will be a delight to all fans of the band’s slowed-down, delicate and dramatic ‘sadcore.’ And probably to anyone who’s never heard them as well. The first disc focuses on many favorites from the band’s 4AD years, a time many consider to be the group’s finest. (Although later Red House Painters efforts are equally strong and deserve more than the measly attention they get.) The second disc features rarities, demos, live versions, and all the other stuff followers of RHP probably never expected to see, but will surely treasure.

I’d forgotten just how amazing they really were until a friend slid a copy of Retrospective my way and made this very little switch in my brain click back into place. Right back into place. It made me recall how I once saw the Red House Painters play live. I remember how between songs Kozelek would launch into impromptu solo versions of a load of classic-rock tunes, including ‘Leaving On A Jet Plane,’ ‘Don’t Fear The Reaper,’ and ‘Any Way You Want It,’ all warped through his very unique musical style that had a way of making anything precious. And then he’d do it again. And we never tired of it.


Andrew Womack is a founding editor of The Morning News. He is always working on the next installment of the Albums of the Year series at TMN. More by Andrew Womack

blog comments powered by Disqus