The InsiderOne Daily Report

  Monday, February 5, 2001

Bad Ain't So Bad

InsiderOne's Michael Goldberg writes: "Being bad ain't so bad. .../ So all you women come along with me/ And I'll show you how fun bad can be," Mark Kozelek sings. The song is "Bad Boy Boogie," the words are those of Australia's AC/DC, but the singer is Mark Kozelek. And the way he sings those words — one version on last year's Rock 'N' Roll Singer EP, another on his new album, What's Next to the Moon — he makes them his own. There's no swagger, no tease. He sings with resignation, as if he's just laying out the facts, the way Springsteen did throughout Nebraska. I always liked the hard-rock sound of AC/DC, who after about 28 years together can still deliver great Stones-style rock music. Guitarist Angus Young is a hard-rock riff master; AC/DC lyrics are something else again. AC/DC are about as sexist as a band can be. In years past, the bandmembers appeared to take the rock 'n' roll lifestyle about as far to the edge as you could without killing yourself. Well, actually, the late singer Bon Scott, who co-wrote "Bad Boy Boogie," did die; I believe he choked on his own vomit, although according to the All Music Guide, quoting the coroner's report, he had "drunk himself to death." When a band lives recklessly, and then sings songs that seem to document their lifestyle, the two get confused, reinforcing each other. Certainly there are demons that cause a man to attempt to lose himself in drink and drugs, and Bon Scott had more than his share of them. In his youth, Mark Kozelek dealt with his own demons, and his dealings with the music business during the '90s were at times difficult. Kozelek is a perfectionist, a romantic, an artist who will not be deterred from his vision. The recordings he's allowed to be released — from the early Red House Painters demos comprised in his group's debut, the Down Colorful Hill EP, through What's Next to the Moon — ring emotionally true. You never feel that he has to try; his vocals are believable, real. Another singer might be embarrassed to sing the words of John Denver, as he does with "Around and Around." Or the words of AC/DC, for that matter; here he covers "Love At First Feel," not the most romantic of songs. You have to wonder about some of the lines in "Walk All Over You," too. But I know why he covered that one, and you will too, when you hear the way he sings "Take off your high heels/ Let down your hair/ Paradise ain't far from there." The Rock 'N' Roll Singer version of "Bad Boy Boogie" is performed straight, as a folk song; the new version, with multi-tracked guitar and vocals on the chorus, is more ephemeral, more mystical, more tentative. This time, when he sings "Being bad ain't so bad," you're not sure if he believes it.

Datastream: Indigo Girl Amy Ray's solo album Stag features collaborations with some cool punk bands, the Butchies and the Rock*A*Teens, along with a track recorded with Joan Jett, the Breeders' Josephine Wiggs and Luscious Jackson's Kate Schellenbach. The album is out March 6 on Ray's own Daemon label. "The songs on Stag deal frankly with my confrontations with the oppressive elements of the music industry, my frustrations with imposed standards of gender all around us, and the shortcomings I see in myself," writes Ray in a statement sent out to the media with advance copies of the album. "... The music that I kept coming back to was the music that came out unlabored and spontaneous and organically rebellious. The heart of this record is in that rebellion and in a certain spirit of recovery I have found in the South, and in that southern punk ethic — subversiveness with a smile." ... Björk's next album will be her last to mix pop music with classical elements, or "orchestrated things," as she put it to a New York Times reporter. She also says that once was enough, in terms of her movie-star turn. "It is important to place the heart in the right place," she said, indicating that her focus is now back on music. "One of the things I felt, although I loved working on the film [Lars von Trier's "Dancer in the Dark"], was that in a way I was wasting time. I was born to do music. This time, in this movie, I was innocent, and it was fine. But you cannot be innocent the second time around."

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Michael Goldberg is the president of He founded Addicted To Noise in 1994.

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