Arthur Russell: Another Thought (1985)

 |   |  1 min read

Arthur Russell: Another Thought (1985)

Curiously, it has only been in recent years that the British music press "discovered" Arthur Russell. But maybe not so curious: Russell died of Aids-related illnesses in '92 and although he left behind literally many hundreds of reels of recordings (everything from disco through experimental pop to Russell singing with just his cello for accompaniment) his work was little known beyond a New York cabal.

Although, even more oddly, Melody Maker had placed his album World of Echo in their top 30 albums of '86. But after that Russell slipped below the interest of the British media.

In the mid-Nineties the newly established Point Music label (supported by Philip Glass) released a collection of (mostly) just Russell and cello as Another Thought, and although the songs were drawn from all points in the Eighties the album had a hypnotic coherence.

Iowa-born Russell had moved first to California to study at the Ali Akbar Khan School in San Francisco where he met poet Allen Ginsberg (and accompanied him on some recordings) before heading out to New York in the mid-Seventies.

He performed his own songs at places like the Kitchen, played music composed for him by Glass, and premiered work by innovative composers like Jon Gibson and Christian Woolf. He also wrote and produced the disco single Kiss Me Again under the name Dinosaur and went on to release a few albums and singles in the genre.

But he kept the avant-art music end going and his lyrics became poetic and refined, his small ensemble or solo work referencing Indian classical music as much as experimental pop and Western traditions.

Russell moved easly between all these worlds -- and the '08 collection Love is Overtaking Me brought together songs delivered in a jaded alt.country style.

Russell's huge ouvre is always worth discovering, so maybe it matters not a jot that it has only been in the past few years he's been getting attention again. Any time is the right time to stumble upon Arthur Russell.

For more one-off, songs with an interesting backstory or oddities see From the Vaults.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

Selina Tusitala Marsh: Fast Talking PI (2009)

Selina Tusitala Marsh: Fast Talking PI (2009)

Every time I have played this track on radio it has had an immediate and favourable response: people want to know who the writer/reader is, and what else has she done. Marsh has done a lot: she... > Read more

Sonny Boy Williamson: Your Funeral and My Trial (1958)

Sonny Boy Williamson: Your Funeral and My Trial (1958)

By the time he went to Britain in the early Sixties and toured (and recorded) with the Yardbirds and the Animals, the career of Sonny Boy Williamson II was still at something of a peak, unlike many... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

GUEST WRITER CHRIS CREE BROWN on Tony Palmer's film about the life and music of Benjamin Britten

GUEST WRITER CHRIS CREE BROWN on Tony Palmer's film about the life and music of Benjamin Britten

There's a wonderfully poignant tale about Benjamin Britten and (Sir) Michael Tippett. Britten, along with his long-time companion and inspiration Peter Pears, were both British pacifists and... > Read more

Melaka, Peninsula Malaysia: The cuisine capital of Malaysia

Melaka, Peninsula Malaysia: The cuisine capital of Malaysia

Bong comes out of her busy kitchen in the elegant Seri Nyonya Peranakan Restaurant to explain how she learned the Baba-Nyonya culinary style unique to the town of Melaka, here on Malaysia’s... > Read more