Arthur Russell

Real Name:
Charles Arthur Russell, Jr.
Profile:
American cellist, composer, and artist.

Born: 21 May 1951 in Oskaloosa, Iowa, USA.
Died: 4 April 1992 in NYC, New York, USA (aged 40).

Russell was raised in Oskaloosa, Iowa, where he later studied the cello and began to write his own music. In the early 1970s, he moved to California and studied Indian music at the Ali Akbar Khan School in San Francisco. He met Allen Ginsberg, with whom he began to work, accompanying him on the cello while Allen sang or read his poetry.

In the mid 1970s, Russell moved to New York City. After an initial period of uncertainty, he contributed to The Flying Hearts in studio work and, occasionally, in performance with David Byrne, Rhys Chatham, Jon Gibson, Peter Gordon, Jerry Harrison, Garret List, Andy Paley, Leni Pickett and Peter Zummo. From 1975 to 1979 this ensemble, together with Glenn Iamaro, Bill Ruyle, and Jon Sholle, performed and recorded the orchestral composition of Instrumentals (Disques du Crépuscule, 1984, Belgium).

In 1978, Russell wrote and produced "Kiss Me Again", under the name Dinosaur. It was the first disco single to be released by Sire Records, and the first of many of Russell's innovative dance tunes. This was followed by "Is It All Over My Face" by Loose Joints, released in 1980. In 1982, Russell and William Socolov founded Sleeping Bag records and their first release was his "24-24 Music". The number "Go Bang", which originated from this album, was remixed as a 12" single by Francois Kevorkian.

In 1983, the album "Tower Of Meaning" (Chatham Square) was released. This compelling and meditative recording, conducted by Julius Eastman, represents just a fragment of a much larger composition, which includes voices along with its instrumentation. At the same time, he continued to release dance singles such as "Tell You Today" (4th And Broadway, 1983) an upbeat dance groove featuring the vocals of Joyce Bowden. Additional dance tunes included "Wax The Van" (Jump Street, 1985) with vocals by Lola Blank, wife of notorious Bob, "Treehouse/Schoolbell" (Sleeping Bag, 1986) and "Let's Go Swimming" (Upside/Rough Trade, 1986).

During the mid 1980s, Russell gave many performances, either accompanying himself on cello with a myriad of effects, or working with a small ensemble consisting of Mustafa Ahmed, Steven Hall, Elodie Lauten and Peter Zummo. 1986 saw the release of "World Of Echo" (Upside/Rough Trade, 1986), which incorporated many of his ideas for pop, dance and classical music for both solo and cello format. This critically acclaimed album was included in Melody Maker's "Top Thirty Releases of 1986". Russell also collaborated with a number of choreographers, including John Bernd, Diane Madden, Alison Salzinger, and Stephanie Woodard.

Russell died of AIDS-related illnesses, and in its obituary the Village Voice wrote: "his songs were so personal that it seems as though he simply vanished into his music."
A documentary about Russell was released by Matt Wolf, titled "Wild Combination: A Portrait Of Arthur Russell" (2008).
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Albums

CLS 145 Tower Of Meaning — Arthur Russell Arthur Russell Tower Of Meaning (Album) Chatham Square Productions CLS 145 US 1983 Sell This Version
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SIDE 8401 Instrumentals, 1974 - Vol. 2 — Arthur Russell Arthur Russell Instrumentals, 1974 - Vol. 2(LP) Another Side SIDE 8401 Belgium 1984 Sell This Version
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UP 60009-1 World Of Echo — Arthur Russell Arthur Russell World Of Echo (Album) Upside Records UP 60009-1 US 1986 Sell This Version
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438 891-2 Another Thought — Arthur Russell Arthur Russell Another Thought (Album) Point Music 438 891-2 Europe 1993 Sell This Version
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none Instrumentals — Arthur Russell Arthur Russell Instrumentals (Comp, Album) Audika none US 2017 Sell This Version
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AU-1017-1 Iowa Dream — Arthur Russell Arthur Russell Iowa Dream (Album) Audika AU-1017-1 US 2019 Sell This Version
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none Sketches For World Of Echo: June 25 1984 Live At Ei — Arthur Russell Arthur Russell Sketches For World Of Echo: June 25 1984 Live At Ei (Album) Audika none 2020 Sell This Version
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none The Deer In The Forest: March 2, 1985 Live At Roulette — Arthur Russell Arthur Russell The Deer In The Forest: March 2, 1985 Live At Roulette(7xFile, WAV, Album) Audika none 2020
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AU-1024-4 24 To 24 Music Live At The Kitchen — Arthur Russell Arthur Russell 24 To 24 Music Live At The Kitchen (Album) Audika AU-1024-4 US 2021 Sell This Version
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Singles & EPs

LR-1002-1 Let's Go Swimming — Arthur Russell Arthur Russell Let's Go Swimming (EP) Logarhythm LR-1002-1 US 1986 Sell This Version
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TLDJ 49 In The Light Of The Miracle — Arthur Russell Arthur Russell In The Light Of The Miracle Talkin' Loud TLDJ 49 UK 1996 Sell This Version
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RTRADST 167 Calling Out Of Context - Album Sampler EP — Arthur Russell Arthur Russell Calling Out Of Context - Album Sampler EP(12", EP, Ltd, Smplr) Rough Trade RTRADST 167 UK 2004 Sell This Version
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TR001 Come To Life / Ghosts — Arthur Russell Arthur Russell / Cant (2) Arthur Russell / Cant (2) - Come To Life / Ghosts(7") Terrible Records (2) TR001 US 2009 Sell This Version
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none Ballad Of The Lights — Arthur Russell Arthur Russell Ballad Of The Lights (Single) Presspop Music none 2010 Sell This Version
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BEAR006 Moon — Arthur Russell Justin Harris Presents Arthur Russell Justin Harris Presents Arthur Russell - Moon(12") Eclectic Avenue Records BEAR006 UK 2011 Sell This Version
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Compilations

SJR LP/CD 83 The World Of Arthur Russell — Arthur Russell Arthur Russell The World Of Arthur Russell (Comp) Soul Jazz Records SJR LP/CD 83 UK 2003 Sell This Version
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RTRADCD161 Calling Out Of Context — Arthur Russell Arthur Russell Calling Out Of Context (Comp) Audika RTRADCD161 UK 2004 Sell This Version
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AU-1005-1 First Thought Best Thought — Arthur Russell Arthur Russell First Thought Best Thought (Comp) Audika AU-1005-1 US 2006 Sell This Version
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AU-1007-1 Springfield — Arthur Russell Arthur Russell Springfield (Comp) Audika AU-1007-1 US 2006 Sell This Version
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RTRADCD481 Love Is Overtaking Me — Arthur Russell Arthur Russell Love Is Overtaking Me (Comp) Audika RTRADCD481 UK 2008 Sell This Version
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TEG-3319-1 The Sleeping Bag Sessions — Arthur Russell Arthur Russell The Sleeping Bag Sessions (Comp) Traffic Entertainment Group, Sleeping Bag Records TEG-3319-1 US 2009 Sell This Version
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AU-1014-2 Corn — Arthur Russell Arthur Russell Corn (Album, Comp) Audika AU-1014-2 US 2015 Sell This Version
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Videos

033 plexifilm Wild Combination - A Portrait Of Arthur Russell — Arthur Russell Arthur Russell Wild Combination - A Portrait Of Arthur Russell Plexifilm 033 plexifilm US 2008 Sell This Version
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Miscellaneous

SACD 909 Another Thought (Radio Edits) — Arthur Russell Arthur Russell Another Thought (Radio Edits) (Maxi) Point Music SACD 909 US 1994 Sell This Version

Add Review

satanicholas

satanicholas

November 17, 2022
Sometimes I've wondered (in the privacy of my own head) if I only like Arthur Russell because I think I'm supposed to. That said I have learnt repeatedly over the years that 1) my musical instincts are far from flawless but really not bad, and 2) that there's been many critically acclaimed works across various genres that I've not initially got so kept quite about out of insecurity, and then later, sometimes much later, revisited and thought "oh right ok I see it now". Not that I necessarily disliked them to begin with, just that I realised later I wasn't quite ready for them first time around. In retrospect it seems as though there was always some kind of instinctual attraction or at the very least interest, but maybe this is just rationalisation, it's hard to tell or know if you're really being honest with yourself. I have had this experience with Russell's work, partially, and I believe I will continue to do so, although there's so very much other music and sound always to listen to, but he's on my shelf and won't be going anywhere anytime soon. I appreciate the weirdness, the wonkiness, the oddness, the intimacy, the beauty and simplicity, and of course the uniqueness. His story is sad, and uplifting, and fascinating. A colleague of mine booked him for a gig many years ago and said he was a very sweet, very softly spoken guy. It's a long time since I saw it but I remember liking the film Wild Combination. I am very thankful that the kinds of things Russell made, things of such peculiarity and fragility and often lack of obvious functionality, get to exist and be experienced in our world, and that there are people such as Russell, and many others, who are committed to their artistic or creative path and brave enough to walk it, as I would like to wish I were. Most of all I thought it was important that there was something other in the comments section under such an artist as Arthur Russell than that awful negative shit below.
REENO

REENO

February 25, 2019
edited over 4 years ago
A handful of good disco cuts (the good ones being the ones he did not SING ON)--YES.
Genius?--NO (IMO of course)
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