Monday, December 5, 2011

Arthur Russell's woe

Earlier this year, I got the Record Store Day vinyl re-issue of Arthur Russell's World of Echo (1986). A "classic" that I knew very little about - ltd. ed. of 300 though, so I took a chance.

RSD 2011 cover
Given his influence on electronic and club music, I expected it to be more synthesized and beat-y. But in reality, it's more experimental and cello-based. I won't go over his whole biography, but he worked with Allen Ginsberg and other freaks in the early '70s, hit the disco clubs in the late '70s, and kept evolving through the '80s and on.

"Soon-to-be Innocent Fun / Let's See" [live] by Arthur Russell, from World of Echo (1986)

Pretty cool 1985 archival footage of Russell playing & singing this song.

"Lucky Cloud" by Arthur Russell, from World of Echo (1986)

This album is really more a collection of solo works and versions. One of his projects in the '80s was to work on a singing style that would obscure the actual lyrics. Also tripped-out gated textures for his cello, apparently.

"Place I Know / Kid Like You" by Arthur Russell, from World of Echo (1986)

Several of the tracks on the album are mashed up like that. I don't know why. Despite mostly using the same components, there's a surprising diversity across the 2xLP. But it's also pretty consistent quality for a patched-together collection of experimental workouts.

"All-Boy All-Girl" by Arthur Russell, from World of Echo (1986)

You get the idea... There are also a couple of other true compilations, since Russell didn't put out many real albums. But this is more than enough for me at this point.

World of Echo
I think I've counted 4 or 5 different cover versions for this album. I believe the one here at the bottom is the original / official cover. The one at the top is definitely the Record Store Day one. And there are a few more, fairly similar.

"Let's Go Swimming" by Arthur Russell, from World of Echo (1986)

The cover reminded me of something else. Some of these songs are different versions of more famous versions. Where it was an Arthur Russell song, and either it's a separate interpretation of a hit or an early demo of something re-done differently. Here's the more popular club mix of "Let's Go Swimming."

"Let's Go Swimming (Coastal Dub)" remixed by Walter Gibbons, from Logarhythm 12" (1986)

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