Album: All Hands on the Bad One
As a follow-up the more complex songs on The Hot Rock, Sleater-Kinney celebrated the new millennium by getting back to basics with All Hands on the Bad One, the lead single of which was easily my favorite Sleater-Kinney song up to that point.
And why not? “You’re No Rock ‘n’ Roll Fun” is exactly the opposite of its title, a sunny blast of everything that makes rock ‘n’ roll the funnest thing in the world to me.
There’s a bit of irony in that it’s a hilarious takedown of an indie boy who takes music so seriously he forgets to have fun with it. Which could be me, except at the height of my indie boyness, my favorite thing in the world was to get drunk and dance all night to my friends’ bands. So maybe indie boys a decade younger didn’t do that anymore? Come to think of it, everybody got really fucking serious in the post-Nirvana 90s, didn’t they? I mean except for Oasis and Guided by Voices, of course. (And neither of them counted, given that Robert Pollard was older than everybody else and Oasis were druggier than everybody else.)
ANYWAYS, with Janet Weiss leading the way with a double-time snare as Carrie Brownstein peels licks hither and yon, you can hear Corin Tucker’s grin as she sings the first verse.
You’re no rock n’ roll fun
Like a party that’s over
Before it’s begun
You’re no walk in the park
More like a shot in the dark
With clues left for no one
And without even any warning, they barrel into the chorus, Weiss joining Tucker for some utterly glorious harmonies.
All the boys in the band
Know how to get down
Fill our Christmas socks
With whiskey drinks and chocolate bars
When the evening ends
We won’t be thinking of you then
Although the best man
Won’t hang out with the girl band
The girl band
Outside of the stop time in between the repetition of “the girl band,” (and again at the end of the other choruses), “You’re No Rock ‘n’ Roll Fun” just barrels forward, following Weiss’s merciless snare drum and the harmonies that pop in and out at will. There’s even a groovy solo by Brownstein, accompanied by a tambourine and Tucker playing some big dumb chords as she and Brownstein dialog as no fun rock boys.
You wanna party with the lights on
Come on, I like the dark!
You always wanna hear the same old song
Come on, play another song!
And the end, all three of them chant the title over and over, voices separating and coming together in multiple awesome ways, before Brownstein finally gets to scream one last “YOU’RE NO ROCK ‘N’ ROLL FUN” as they pound it into the ground.
In a weird way, “You’re No Rock ‘n’ Roll Fun” represented a road really not taken by Sleater-Kinney, but was more like a flex — sure, we can write conventionally catchy rock ‘n’ roll songs, too! That said, I happen to love conventionally catchy rock ‘n’ roll songs, and “You’re No Rock ‘n’ Roll Fun” would be at the top of any Sleater-Kinney playlist I made for an unbeliever.
All Hands on The Bad One was seen as a (relative) comeback for Sleater-Kinney, and was the second of their albums to make the Billboard albums chart, stalling at #177, and it also showed up on the Pazz & Jop critics poll at #10.
“You’re No Rock ‘n’ Roll Fun” Official Music Video
“You’re No Rock ‘n’ Roll Fun” live on Oxygen, 2000
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