The Crazy World Of Arthur Russell

October 9, 2008

Several months ago whilst trawling the net to find grotesque imagery to sate my various fetishes I stumbled across news of a documentary about musical legend Arthur Russell, being a bit of a fan I remember penning a rather excitable email to the producers offering my services should they need to throw a screening or launch party.

Of course the eagle eyed amongst you might have noticed that the launch party was the other week and my name was noticeable in its absence on all the promotional material. Apparently they decided to give some young unknowns a break and the ICA and some fellow going by the name of Twitch got the gig instead, still I’m not one to hold a grudge, honest…

Anyway the DVD is set to be released by Plexifilm on November the 3rd and hopefully some of you will part with your cash and buy a copy, you should it’s really very very good and face it I doubt any of you own shares or have pension schemes so it’s not like the credit crunch has affected you.

For those of you who are unaware of his work, our Arthur was a genuine musical maverick and to use that too often bandied around word genius. Trained on the cello his earliest public performances were providing a musical accompaniment to beat poet Allen Ginsberg’s pretentious ramblings, but by the early seventies he had moved to New York where he formed the first of several seminal bands, The Flying Hearts, and would go onto work with some of Gotham’s finest arty rock types such as Talking Heads’ frontman David Byrne.

Towards the end of the seventies he had begun experimenting with the city’s emerging disco sounds and would go onto record two of my favourite ever record’s Loose Joints ‘Is It All Over My Face‘ and Dinosaur L’s ‘Go Bang! 5‘. Throughout the rest of the eighties Russell continued to experiment with a variety of musical forms that took in elements of pop, rock, folk and classical music releasing several gorgeous albums well worth hunting down. Sadly like so many of his contempories Russell was a victim of the AIDS epidemic passing away in 1992 aged just 40.

Matt Wolf’s film ‘Wild Combination‘ is an evocative telling of Russell’s life, featuring interviews with his colleagues, friends and family and has been rapturously received by both critics and audiences alike being selected for both the Berlin and Edinburgh Film Festivals. Moving and tender, it is both a personal and touching account of the man and in a larger sense the City that he made his home.

If you want to check out more of Russell’s work (and honestly you really should) then a great place to start is the Soul Jazz compilation, ‘The World of Arthur Russell‘ but for an instant fix click below for a couple of tracks including the rather excellent remix of Russell’s ‘Springfield’, which I thought was new but just turns out I’d not heard it before, odd! Anyway it don’t get more New York than that, enjoy.

Arthur Russell – Keeping Up

Arthur Russell – Springfield (DFA Remix)

Right hopefully after all this gushing the film’s pr may bung me a copy of the DVD, in which case it’s all round mine for that really important New Cross premier, just bring your own popcorn.

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