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ARTHUR RUSSELL

Arthur Russell

Calling Out Of Context - 2022 Reissue

    The now classic album that started the renaissance, available via Rough Trade on double vinyl with four page insert.

    Calling Out Of Context features 12 previously unreleased tracks of Buddhist Bubblegum Disco Electro Pop including the anthemic "That's Us/Wild Combination", "The Platform On The Ocean", “Make 1, 2” and "Arm Around You", all recorded during Arthur's prime years 1985-90. Collaborators include Mustafa Ahmed, Walter Gibbons, Steven Hall, Jennifer Warnes, and Peter Zummo.

    30 years have passed since Arthur Russell left us, in relative obscurity, from AIDS complications in 1992. Yet his work—as composer, songwriter and dance music innovator—is better known now than ever before. Since Audika Records and Arthur’s partner Tom Lee began excavating and curating Arthur’s vast archive beginning in 2003, critics worldwide have hailed Russell as a visionary. Countless younger artists cite him as an influence. There has been an internationally acclaimed documentary film (Matt Wolf’s Wild Combination) and biography (Tim Lawrence’s Hold onto Your Dreams), a critical study (Matt Marble’s Buddhist Bubblegum) along with various tribute albums, concerts and events. In 2016 Arthur Russell’s archive was acquired by The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center as part of their American Music Collection.

    If Arthur Russell isn’t quite the pop star he imagined he would be, he is at least widely considered one of the most significant figures in late 20th century American music.

    The majority of the material selected for “Calling Out Of Context” comes from two sources. The first was a completed album which dates from 1985, entitled “Corn” of which three very different test pressings remain (complied and reissued in 2015). The second source was material earmarked for Rough Trade recorded between 1986 -1990.

    Both “Make 1,2” and “Hop On Down” (originally titled “Hop On Down To Petland”) are two songs that Arthur wrote specifically with the plan of releasing as singles. Sadly, Arthur was faced with an unsympathetic market which viewed his material as uncommercial or too eccentric. In the case of the abandoned Rough Trade recordings, Arthur had become ill due to complications from HIV. He simply could not let go of his material. Nonetheless, he worked and reworked songs into an infinite labyrinth of possibilities, working incessantly with confidence and optimism until the last years of his life.

    As a cellist, songwriter, composer, and disco visionary Arthur Russell consistently blurred the lines of our expectations of what pop music could be. Contrary by nature, Arthur’s spontaneous reaction to and altered perception of his environment produced music that remains challenging and contemporary. Arthur’s open hearted attitude to music was far ahead of its time, and now that time is ours.

    TRACK LISTING

    The Deer In The Forest Part 1
    The Platform On The Ocean
    You And Me Both
    Calling Out Of Context
    Arm Around You
    That's Us/Wild Combination
    Make 1,2
    Hop On Down
    Get Around You
     I Like You!
    You Can Make Me Feel Bad
    Calling All Kids

    Arthur Russell

    Instrumentals - 2022 Remastered Edition

      Remastered double LP with 12 page booklet including liner notes by Tim Lawrence, Ernie Brooks and Arthur Russell.

      Before Disco, and before the transcendent echoes, Arthur studied to be a composer.

      His journey began in 1972, running away from his home in Oskaloosa, Iowa.

      Heading west to Northern California, Arthur studied Indian classical composition at the Ali Akbar Khan College of Music followed by western orchestral music at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, before ending two years later in New York at the Manhattan School of Music.

      Traversing the popular and the serious, Arthur composed “Instrumentals” in 1974, inspired by the photography of his Buddhist teacher, Yuko Nonomura, as Arthur described, “I was awakened, or re-awakened to the bright-sound and magical qualities of the bubblegum and easy-listening currents in American popular music”.

      Initially intended to be performed in one 48 hour cycle, “Instrumentals” was in fact only performed a handful of times as a work in progress.

      The legendary performances captured live in New York at The Kitchen (1975 and 1978) and Franklin St. Arts Center (1977) feature the cream of that eras downtown new music scene including Ernie Brooks, Rhys Chatham, Julius Eastman, Jon Gibson, Peter Gordon, Garrett List, Andy Paley, Bill Ruyle, Dave Van Tieghem, and Peter Zummo.

      Pitchfork lauded “Instrumentals” Vol. 1 as a masterpiece and one of Arthur’s “greatest achievements”. Americana touching on Copeland, Ives, and maybe even Brian Wilson. “Instrumentals” Vol. 2 is a moving, deeply pastoral work performed by the CETA Orchestra and conducted by Julius Eastman. Also included are two of Arthur’s most elusive compositions, Reach One, and Sketch For “Face Of Helen”. Recorded live in 1975 at Phill Niblock’s Experimental Intermedia Foundation, Reach One is a minimal, hypnotic ambient soundscape written and performed for two Fender Rhodes pianos. Sketch For “Face Of Helen” was inspired by Arthur’s work with friend and composer Arnold Dreyblatt, recorded with an electronic tone generator, keyboard and ambient recordings of a rumbling tugboat from the Hudson River.

      TRACK LISTING

      "Instrumentals" Volume 1
      "Instrumentals" Volume 1
      "Instrumentals" Volume 1
      "Instrumentals" Volume 1
      "Instrumentals" Volume 1
      "Instrumentals" Volume 1
      "Instrumentals" Volume 1
      "Instrumentals" Volume 1
      "Instrumentals" Volume 1
      "Instrumentals" Volume 1
      "Instrumentals" Volume 2
      "Instrumentals" Volume 2
      "Instrumentals" Volume 2
      "Instrumentals" Volume 2
      "Instrumentals" Volume 2
      Sketch For The Face Of Helen
      Reach One

      At once kaleidoscopic and intimate, "Iowa Dream" bears some of Russell’s most personal work, including several recently discovered folk songs he wrote during his time in Northern California in the early 1970s. For Russell, Iowa was never very far away. “I see, I see it all,” sings Russell on the title track: red houses, fields, the town mayor (his father) streaming by as he dream-bicycles through his hometown. Russell’s childhood home and family echo, too, through “Just Regular People,” “I Wish I Had a Brother,” “Wonder Boy,” “The Dogs Outside are Barking,” “Sharper Eyes,” and “I Felt.” Meanwhile, songs like “I Kissed the Girl From Outer Space,” “I Still Love You,” “List of Boys,” and “Barefoot in New York” fizz with pop and dance grooves, gesturing at Russell’s devotion to New York’s avant-garde and disco scenes. Finally, the long-awaited “You Did it Yourself,” until now heard only in a brief heart-stopping black-and-white clip in Matt Wolf’s documentary Wild Combination, awards us a new take with a driving funk rhythm and Russell’s extraordinary voice soaring at the height of its powers. On "Iowa Dream", you can hear a country kid meeting the rest of the world - and with this record, the world continues to meet a totally singular artist.




      TRACK LISTING

      Side 1
      1. Wonder Boy
      2. I Never Get Lonesome
      3. Everybody Everybody
      4. You Did It Yourself
      5. Come To Life
      6. Iowa Dream
      7. Words Of Love
      8. I Still Love You
      9. You Are My Love
      10. Barefoot In New York
      11. Just Regular People
      12. I Wish I Had A Brother
      13. I Felt
      14. The Dogs Outside Are Barking
      15. Sharper Eyes
      16. Follow You
      17. List Of Boys
      18. I Kissed The Girl From Outer Space
      19. In Love With You For The Last Time

      Originally released on LP in 1986, “World Of Echo” is a deeply intimate and meditative work of awe-inspiring grace and remains a timeless work of sublime beauty. Arthur’s aim was to achieve what he calls 'the most vivid rhythmic reality', with just cello, voice, and echoes. Arthur achieved all of this and more on one of the most amazing albums you will ever hear.

      Often listed in the various 'most important albums you'll ever hear' type of fair; its innovative and maverick approach to the whole production process (even famously recording the album on a full moon) would go on to inspire countless future generations of creatives; especially across lo-fi and DIY scenes. His mix of classical training, frankly punk attitude and love of experimentation forged a sound that was unequivocally his own; a rare and epochal force of nature that will never be copied again.

      If you don't own a copy of this album, I urge you to reconsider! It's a must-have for any serious music lover. Copies always fly out too, so take advantage now as when its out of press it always commands big bucks.






      TRACK LISTING

      Tone Bone Kone 0:57
      Soon-To-Be Innocent Fun / Let's See 9:19
      Answers Me 2:04
      Being It 5:23
      Place I Know / Kid Like You 3:20
      She's The Star / I Take This Time 4:46
      Tree House 2:09
      See-Through 2:08
      Hiding Your Present From You 4:06
      Wax The Van 2:05
      All-Boy All-Girl 3:34
      Lucky Cloud 2:46
      Tower Of Meaning / Rabbit's Ear / Home Away From Home 4:20
      Let's Go Swimming

      Another Thought was the first collection of Arthur Russell’s music to be released after his death in 1992. Released in 1993 on Point Music it marked the beginning of nearly 30 years of work to let the world hear the enormous archive of unreleased recordings Arthur left behind. Be With revisits this first compilation for a new gatefold double vinyl version and a triple-fold digipak CD reissue.

      Both versions of Be With’s 2021 reissue of Another Thought have been mastered by Simon Francis and the vinyl cut by Pete Norman. The original artwork has been restored and tweaked at Be With HQ for the gatefold sleeve and the triple-fold digipak, with the essential help of Janette Beckman. Each version comes with an insert reproducing the liner notes and lyrics from the original CD release.

      Together with Calling Out Of Context, Soul Jazz’s World of Arthur Russell, and much of the ongoing work of Audika, Another Thought is absolutely essential for even the most casual Arthur Russell collection. In fact we’d argue it’s essential for any fan of non-obvious pop music. This is the only place where you can hear some of Arthur’s most recognisable tunes and it’s an album that absolutely deserves to be kept in press.


      We’ll assume that by now you’re all at least a little familiar with the story of Arthur Russell, the farm boy from Iowa who moved to 1970s New York. Arthur Russell the genuine musical genius who died just 40 years old, leaving behind a wealth of music that dwarfed the few 12"s and LPs that were released during his short life.

      Although Arthur had been working on an album for Rough Trade during his last years, with the label no-longer operating it was Point Music (Philip Glass and Michael Riesman’s label set up together with Philips) who stepped in to help Arthur’s partner Tom Lee start working out exactly what Arthur had left behind.

      Tom suggested that Arthur’s friend Mikel Rouse was the right person to make the first catalogue. Working in Tom and Arthur’s apartment he had only two weeks to go through what turned out to be around 800 tapes.

      As Tom explained “at the end of each day he would generally wait for me to come home and I would, to the best of my knowledge, name and identify pieces in question from that day’s work. As he worked Mikel compiled about a dozen cassettes that he thought would present the most finished sounding songs for Don/Point to use. As Don listened he would then suggest and ask me and thus we collaborated on the choices.”

      Don is Don Christensen, Another Thought’s producer. With a final selection of songs from recordings made between 1982 and 1990, including sessions with some of Arthur’s regular collaborators Peter Zummo, Steven Hall, Mustafa Ahmed, Elodie Lauten, Julius Eastman, Jennifer Warnes and Joyce Bowden, it was then Don’s job to turn these into a finished album.

      Another Thought is a little different from the compilations of Arthur’s music that came out since. In our conversations with Steve Knutson (who founded Audika Records and who manages Arthur’s estate together with Tom), he explained that “more than any project released by Arthur during his lifetime or posthumously by Audika, ‘Another Thought’ is the most worked over. The material was significantly edited and rearranged from the original source tapes”.

      If the aim was to release a comprehensive exploration of every facet of Arthur’s music, from the most avant-garde of his avant-garde compositions through to the most disco-not-disco of his disco-not-disco tunes then the project was a spectacular failure. But as a coherent album of non-obvious pop music Another Thought is wonderful.

      Starting with the sparse voice-and-cello of the title track, A Little Lost adds some guitar along with the sneaking suspicion that we’re listening to something nowhere near as simple as it first sounds. By the time we get to This Is How We Walk On The Moon - it could be the moment you notice the congas, or the percussion that’s been building behind them, or maybe it’s that blast of trumpet and trombone - we realise we’ve gone from splashing around to being completely submerged in the musical world of Arthur Russell.

      From here the album heads off on its journey around the sounds of the left-field contemporary classical music of the time, re-directed towards pop ears, with minor detours through the swirling woozy disco of the half-remembered night before on In The Light Of The Miracle and My Tiger, My Timing. Whether it’s just Arthur, his cello and some bleeps on Just A Blip, or whether he has some vocal help as he does on the bounding Keeping Up, this is difficult music made so, so easy. And through it all is Arthur’s voice and cello. Sometimes drowned in distortion and sometimes clear as a bell, but always there somewhere.

      A Sudden Chill finally returns us to the calmer waters we started in and this last track closes the album with a melancholy that’s not surprising given how soon after Arthur’s death the album was put together.

      Whilst Another Thought holds together with the consistency of a proper album, there’s still no getting away from the fact that this was put together from audio recorded in different ways, in different places, with different people at different times. Those with keen ears will hear traces of tape hiss, the occasional blown-out note and some digital fuzz, all fingerprints of those original recordings as well as of the 1990s digital equipment that was used to piece Another Thought together.

      Add to this Arthur’s obvious pleasure in making music from the sort of sounds that can make microphones, speakers and ears uncomfortable, it’s no surprise that Another Thought isn’t glossy and pristine. Don Christensen’s productions have been careful to not scrub up those original recordings so much that they lose their original vibe, understandable given that Arthur wasn’t around as a guide. We’ve applied a similarly light touch with the mastering for these Be With versions, just working to make sure they sound like they should on both the vinyl and the CD.

      Despite the Discogs rumours, Another Thought was never originally released as an LP. So when it came to the sleeve for this Be With vinyl version we took the original CD artwork as a starting point to come up with something that looks like it could have been in the record racks back in 1993.

      We have to thank Janette Beckman for helping us reproduce her iconic photograph of Arthur in his newspaper boat hat. One of many photographs she took of Arthur, Janette shot this in her New York studio back in 1986 for a short article in the January ’87 issue of The Face Magazine. Those with eagle-eyes will notice we’ve used an ever-so-slightly different shot from the one that appeared in The Face and then again on the original cover of Another Thought. The original has long since been lost so we’ve worked with what is left in Janette’s archives. And we also have to thank Tom Lee for giving us permission to reproduce his liner notes from the original CD booklet, together with Arthur’s lyrics.


      TRACK LISTING

      01 : A1 : Another Thought (02:16)
      02 : A2 : A Little Lost (03:18)
      03 : A3 : Home Away From Home (05:12)
      04 : A4 : Lucky Cloud (02:16)

      05 : B1 : This Is How We Walk On The Moon (04:42)
      06 : B2 : Hollow Tree (02:30)
      07 : B3 : See Through Love (04:46)

      08 : C1 : Keeping Up (06:20)
      09 : C2 : In The Light Of The Miracle (06:05)
      10 : C3 : Lucky Cloud (Return) (03:00)
      11 : C4 : Just A Blip (03:42)

      12 : D1 : Me For Real (04:55)
      13 : D2 : Losing My Taste For The Night Life (04:34)
      14 : D3 : My Tiger, My Timing (05:41)
      15 : D4 : A Sudden Chill (02:45)

      Tim Lawrence

      Hold On To Your Dreams : Arthur Russell And The Downtown Music Scene, 1973-1992

        Hold On to Your Dreams is the first biography of the musician and composer Arthur Russell, one of the most important but least known contributors to New York's downtown music scene during the 1970s and 1980s. With the exception of a few dance recordings, including "Is It All Over My Face?" and "Go Bang! #5", Russell's pioneering music was largely forgotten until 2004, when the posthumous release of two albums brought new attention to the artist. This revival of interest gained momentum with the issue of additional albums and the documentary film Wild Combination.

        Based on interviews with more than seventy of his collaborators, family members, and friends, Hold On to Your Dreams provides vital new information about this singular, eccentric musician and his role in the boundary-breaking downtown music scene. Tim Lawrence traces Russell's odyssey from his hometown of Oskaloosa, Iowa, to countercultural San Francisco, and eventually to New York, where he lived from 1973 until his death from AIDS-related complications in 1992. Resisting definition while dreaming of commercial success, Russell wrote and performed new wave and disco as well as quirky rock, twisted folk, voice-cello dub, and hip-hop-inflected pop.

        "He was way ahead of other people in understanding that the walls between concert music and popular music and avant-garde music were illusory," comments the composer Philip Glass. "He lived in a world in which those walls weren't there." Lawrence follows Russell across musical genres and through such vital downtown music spaces as the Kitchen, the Loft, the Gallery, the Paradise Garage, and the Experimental Intermedia Foundation. Along the way, he captures Russell's openness to sound, his commitment to collaboration, and his uncompromising idealism.


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