Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday Music: Arthur Russell

The very thought of trying to write a "short" bio of the late Arthur Russell makes me feel so tired, I want to lie down. The following pretty much sums up his career: when Russell died, he left behind over a thousand tapes of his own work. At least 40 of those were just different mixes of the same song. Prolific and protean, he wrote and recorded avant-garde string music, proto-house-techno, modernist disco fusion and his own brand of eccentric, sweet pop. I included clips of two of the latter, his most accessible music. The playlist beneath has some examples of the other genres.

Russell was part of the New York downtown scene during the heyday of punk and new wave, and was a friend and collaborator with Allen Ginsberg, Philip Glass and David Byrne, among others. His life was tragically cut short by AIDS, in 1992. In recent years, Audika Records has released several albums of his work.

Audika Records: Come to Life. Arthur Russell [Link]

Arthur Russell Playlist: Get Around To It (4:59)/Sketch for the Face of Helen (2:38)/Let's Go Swimming (7:58)/Terrace of Inintelligibility Part 2 (9:31)



Jack said...

I was just listening to "A Little Lost". I think it's one of my favorite songs of the last few years. I also like this Jens Lekman Lekman version:

The Fifty Foot Blogger said...

With the thumb piano...yes, I like that one, too.

dan said...

you are the queen of the obscure.

The Fifty Foot Blogger said...

That's my name. Don't wear it out.

Anonymous said...

Newly-released bio of Russell by music historian Tim Lawrence is well worth your consideration. Puts his life and career in context.

Anonymous said...

Dan said,

"You are the queen of the obscure."

Indeed. You're an unwitting consultant for Bric-a-Brac, as your blog is a rich vein of great songs, forgotten or otherwise.

P.S. Are you familiar with Movits? Stephen Colbert had them on his show, which gave them a nice boost in recognition. We're their warm-up band at Schuba's on January 31.

Larry B.