Over the past decade, the visionary musician Arthur Russell has entered something close to the mainstream. Sampled and referenced by contemporary musicians, his papers now open to visitors at the Performing Arts Library at Lincoln Center in New York, and his name synonymous with a certain strain of tenderness, Russell is as widely known as he’s ever been.
Thanks to Russell’s partner Tom Lee and to Steve Knutson of Audika Records, who have forged several records from Russell’s vast archive of unfinished and unreleased work, the world now hears many versions of Arthur Russell. There’s the Iowa boy, the disco mystic, the singersongwriter and composer, and the fierce perfectionist deep in a world of echo. While all of these elements of Russell are individually true, none alone define him. Now, after ten years of work inside the Russell library, Lee and Knutson bring us Iowa Dream, yet another bright star in Russell’s dazzling constellation. Blazing with trademark feeling, these nineteen songs are a staggering collection of Russell’s utterly distinct songwriting.
And although Russell could be inscrutably single-minded, he was never totally solitary. Collaborating here is a stacked roster of downtown New York musicians, including Ernie Brooks, Rhys Chatham, Henry Flynt, Jon Gibson, Peter Gordon, Steven Hall, Jackson Mac Low, Larry Saltzman, and David Van Tieghem. Musician Peter Broderick makes a contemporary addition to this list: more than forty years after Russell recorded several nearly finished songs, Broderick worked diligently with Audika to complete them, and performed audio restoration and additional mixing.
STAFF COMMENTSPatrick says: P.S. Disco fans need to check the mega "I Kissed The Girl From Outer Space!
Patrick says: This collection of previously unheard demos and sketches, diligently restored, completed and compiled by Peter Broderick finds the genre-fluid outlier in cornbelt-country mode, treating us to tender ballads, aching Americana and dreamy power pop across four sides. I didn't need any more convincing that he was a once in a lifetime talent, but the brilliance of this set is making my soul hurt.