Arthur is a bit of an enigma. He was central to the "serious" music that was happening in Downtown New York as a curator of the Kitchen.
Along with his band The Flying Hearts he recorded sessions for legendary Columbia Records producer John Hammond.
The diverse players on his songs includes Talking Head David Byrne, Dirty Dancer Jennifer Warnes and Hillbilly Minimalist Henry Flynt
Arthur is probably best known for his progressive and chaotic disco tracks recorded under a variety of pseudonyms- Dinosaur, Loose Joints etc
The tracks I've picked will hopefully give you a flavour of most of the genres he was involved in and not just the disco tracks.
If you don't like one style it's not a given you won't like another as he crosses so much terrain across his career.
10 Instrumentals 1974 Volume 1, Part I - A piece that consists of 48 hours worth of possibilities.
This stands out from a lot of the music that is associated with the Kitchen/ Downtown scene as it has a much more playful, percussive feel
It isn’t bloodless like some of the music associated with the New Music/Minimalism scene – In fact it brims with life.
9 I Couldn't Say It to Your Face - This song is from a 1975 session recorded for John Hammond
John Hammond was the Columbia producer that helped further the careers of Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan amongst others
You can see why John was interested in him from this song as it would sit neatly alongside Bob Dylan with its ironic, bitter lyrics.
8 - Arthur Russell - Soon to be Innocent Fun / Let's See - From the World of Echo album. Arthur strips it all back
The closet thing to this in the eighties isThe Durutti Column. Well received in the UK when it was released, it has only grown in stature
Only this year @FACTmag named it as the best album of the eighties in their gloriously idiosyncratic list.
7 - The Platform on the Ocean - Originally recorded under the Indian Ocean moniker for the unreleased Corn album.
You can almost feel the waves lapping around you. This is one of the many songs Arthur recorded with aquatic themes.
See Let's Go Swimming for another great one -
The keyboards and drum programming are totally original.
6 - Arthur Russell - This Is How We Walk on the Moon – One of the highlights from the Another Thought album
I got into Arthur Russell at the turn of the millennium through an interest in the Paradise Garage.
I had no idea about the different threads of his body of work until I heard Another Thought.
The first I heard of the album was through Optimo’s (@JDTwitch) incessant championing of it.
Few albums have stunned me like that one and it still remains my favourite.
It was originally released by fellow downtown alumni Phillip Glass after Arthur’s death.
This song in particular sounds like nobody but Arthur and it amusingly was used in an advert for a mobile phone company in the UK.
5 Dinosaur L - Go Bang! #5 (Francois K Mix) A very wobbly disco tune which feels like it's going to fall apart
Go Bang is pure joy distilled. "I want to see all my friends at once!". Fellow Belfast dweller @_seanwalshe_ named his club after it
The Francois K mix of it is said to be Larry Levan's favourite song of all time. What an accolade!
4 - Loose Joints - Is It All Over My Face? Female Version. Speaking of Larry. This is the Larry Levan mix of this song.
This was the first Arthur song I heard. I'd imagine that's the same for a lot of people.
A true "disco not disco" classic. It sounds different to the "male" version as Larry used tapes that weren't in the original mix.
Arthur had a habit of recording reams of material for a project and then trying to edit it all together.
He was more interested in the performance and the creation than the finished product!
The lyrics of this are very tongue in cheek / quietly subversive.
3 - Losing My Taste for the Night Life - The come down after the high of Is It All Over My Face.
A haunting song from Another Thought that really chills me to the bone. Devastating.
2 - Dinosaur - Kiss Me Again (version). My favourite version of Kiss Me Again. It's sounds the wildest.
Few songs manage to cross so many different streams. You have downtown faces such as Peter Gordon, Peter Zummo and Henry Flynt
Alongside well established disco session players such as Wilbur Bascomb and Alan Schwartzberg.
Star DJ from the Gallery Nicky Siano co-producing and David Byrne from Talking Heads on guitar.
I also recommend the unreleased phonetic Japanese version of this -
Steven Hall has just uploaded the Japanese version to soundcloud with a download option - https://soundcloud.com/arthurs-landing/arthur-russell-kiss-me
As well as the epic cover version / reworking by Polmo Polpo called Kiss Me Again And Again -
1 - That's Us/Wild Combination - Played at Arthur's funeral as an example of the sheer amount of unreleased material
It was only towards the late 1990s/early 2000s that interest began to grow. This was one of the many great songs that finally saw the light.
Not just one of my favourite songs that Arthur was involved with but one of my favourite songs full stop.
That's Jennifer Warnes supplying the backing vocals.
This song was used as the title for the essential documentary about Arthur which is a must see.
I thought I'd finish this with a few other bits and pieces that Arthur played on.
Peter Zummo - Song IV. This is by one of Arthur's main collaborators. It features Arthur on both Cello and Vocals
Optimo Music (@JDTwitch) has reissued the Peter Zummo record Zummo With An X and it's an essential piece of the puzzle.
Peter Gordon & Love of Life Orchestra - That Hat - An essential! Also includes New York Doll David Johansen.
Arthur Russell and the Flying Hearts Featuring Allen Ginsberg– Ballad Of The Lights.
Allen and Arthur were friends throughout Arthur's time in New York.
Arthur accompanied Allen on some of his performances and stayed with him when he moved to New York.
The Necessaries - More Real - This is the new wavey power pop band that Arthur was in for a little while.
I'm not a massive fan of all of their output but this song is lovely. It sits nicely alongside the work of The Feelies.
Nirosta Steel– “Foxy Pup”
These are some of the most recent sessions to appear.
Nirosta Steel was the project of Steven Hall and Arthur produced them. Steven Hall is currently working on the album for @BuddhistArmy
Lola - Wax The Van (Jon's Dub) – Lola Blank was Bob Blank’s wife. Bob Blank ran Blank Studios
This is a bubbling joy infused dance song with a childish element to it. The mystery remains as to who Jon is!
A great overview of Bob Blank’s work was released on Strut a couple of years ago. Wax the Van is included.
If there are any diehard Arthur fans out there this Beats in Space Mix by Steve Knutson from Audika is essential - http://www.beatsinspace.net/playlists/440
I got some of the facts from the essential Tim Lawrence Biography Hold On to Your Dreams
Some of Arthur's friends and collaborators are keeping his spirit alive in Arthur's Landing
I’m well aware that I've totally made a mockery of the top ten format but regardless...
Here's one last tune to sing into the evening - Loose Joints - Tell You (Today) (Original 12" Vocal)
Here's a full youtube playlist of everything I picked this evening -