Red House Painters (Rollercoaster)

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Red House Painters
Studio album by Red House Painters
Released May 24, 1993
Recorded Summer 1992 - Spring 1993
Genre Slowcore, sadcore, folk rock, dream pop
Length 76:13
Language English
Label 4AD
Producer Mark Kozelek
Red House Painters chronology
Down Colorful Hill
Red House Painters
Red House Painters

Red House Painters (also known as Rollercoaster or Red House Painters I to distinguish it from the second eponymous album, known as Bridge or Red House Painters II) is the second album by the group Red House Painters, released on May 24, 1993 by 4AD.


The album follows Red House Painters' 1992 debut Down Colorful Hill, and the recording sessions spawned twenty-three songs culled from leader/producer Mark Kozelek's back-catalog, fourteen of which comprised the Rollercoaster album.[1] Eight songs left over from the recording sessions would make up the band's second self-titled album. Kozelek's lyrics focus on themes of pain, desolation and loss, while musically the album runs from the folk-pop of "Grace Cathedral Park" to the shoegaze of "Mistress" to the stark "New Jersey" and onto the soundscapes of "Funhouse" and "Mother". Kozelek said of the recording sessions, "It was a nightmare, because the initial excitement of recording twenty-three songs became, 'one down, twenty-two to go'... And I was nervous that people were now paying attention, but Ivo [Watts-Russell, 4AD label owner] made helpful suggestions and never demanded anything. If we went over budget, we went over budget." Watts-Russell also suggested the album be a double album, and compiled the track listing himself.[1]

Kozelek discussed his views of the album in the foreword of the 2002 and revised 2008 editions of his book of lyrics, Nights of Passed Over: "...I know the Rollercoaster album is many people's favorite. But for me, it is and will always be the most difficult to get through. I hadn't heard it in years, and though there are some beautiful things I had forgotten about -- a delicate piano in "Things Mean a Lot", the way the band brings life to "Brown Eyes" midway through, and the chorus of "Strawberry Hill", which was sung by a group of strangers we gathered from outside the Divisadero Street studio where we were recording -- what I remembered most, even when I look at the album's cover, is nine months of worry."

The album's artwork features a sepia-toned picture of the now-demolished Thunderbolt roller coaster at Coney Island.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[2]
Pitchfork 9.0/10[3]
Q 5/5 stars[4]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[5]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4/5 stars[6]

In a contemporary review, Jim Greer of Spin wrote that Red House Painters "rewards patient listening with a rare and sublime ecstasy."[7] The album peaked at number 63 upon its initial release on the UK Albums Chart in 1993.[8]

Marc Hawthorne of The A.V. Club later cited Red House Painters as Mark Kozelek's "crowning achievement in a discography that has placed him alongside the greatest songwriters of all time".[9] In September 2010, Pitchfork Media included "Katy Song" at number 162 on their Top 200 Tracks of the 90s.[10]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Mark Kozelek, except where noted. 

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Grace Cathedral Park"     3:52
2. "Down Through"     2:38
3. "Katy Song"     8:25
4. "Mistress"     4:05
5. "Things Mean a Lot"     3:24
6. "Funhouse"     9:18
7. "Take Me Out"     4:48
8. "Rollercoaster"     4:17
9. "New Jersey"     3:58
10. "Dragonflies"   Kozelek, Robyn Riel-Nail 3:58
11. "Mistress" (Piano Version)   4:33
12. "Mother"     13:06
13. "Strawberry Hill"     7:35
14. "Brown Eyes"     1:48

Release history[edit]

Country Date Label Format Catalogue # Notes
United Kingdom May 24, 1993 4AD CD DAD 3008 CD
Double LP DAD 3008
July 6, 1998 CD (reissue) GAD 3008 CD
United States May 25, 1993 Warner Bros. Records CD 9 45256-2
November 2, 1999 4AD CD (reissue) GAD 3008 CD
Worldwide April 18, 2015 Double LP CAD 3409 Bronze-coloured vinyl, as part of the Red House Painters box set
August 14, 2015 Black vinyl, released individually


  • Images by W.K.V.L.

"Mistress" single[edit]

Although no commercial singles were ever released from the album, a promotional-only CD was issued for "Mistress" in the US in May 1993. The single features a different mix of "Mistress" as well as the piano version, along with the album version of "Grace Cathedral Park." While the sleeve lists "Strawberry Hill" as the album version, it is in fact an edit, which removes roughly 50 seconds of guitar noise in the beginning of the song.

Warner Bros./4AD, PRO-CD-6108:

  1. "Mistress" (Remix) – 4:03
  2. "Grace Cathedral Park" – 3:51
  3. "Strawberry Hill" [Edit] – 6:44
  4. "Mistress" (Piano Version) – 4:31

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Facing the Other Way: The Story of 4AD, by Martin Aston. Page 416. Published by The Friday Project, 2013.
  2. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "Red House Painters (Roller-Coaster) – Red House Painters". AllMusic. Retrieved December 5, 2014. 
  3. ^ Stosuy, Brandon (May 6, 2015). "Red Hot Painters: Box Set". Pitchfork. Retrieved May 6, 2015. 
  4. ^ Mason, Matt (September 2015). "Master Strokes". Q (350): 118–19. 
  5. ^ O'Connor, Rob (November 25, 1993). "Red House Painters: Red House Painters". Rolling Stone: 120. 
  6. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon & Schuster. p. 682. ISBN 0-743-20169-8. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Red House Painters". Chart Stats. Retrieved 2009-07-29. 
  9. ^ Hawthorne, Marc (September 25, 2007). "Permanent Records, The A.V. Club's Hall Of Fame: Red House Painters "Rollercoaster"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved May 22, 2015. 
  10. ^ [1]