Arthur Russell

Another Thought

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Compiled from selections from a daunting number of tapes and recordings made by Arthur Russell over the last decade of his life, Another Thought serves as a somewhat unintentional sequel to the majestic World of Echo. While it's a primarily vocal/cello recording, Russell himself might have arranged and performed a final version differently, given his never flagging interest in the possibilities of dance and disco. Whether seen as a tribute, a collection of demos, or something else, it's still a truly excellent record, Russell's evocative, soulful-in-its-own-style singing and performing given a sweet showcase. There's a striking sense how away from the dancefloor Russell's work parallels that of the Durutti Column (and its own cellist, Bruce Russell), with the emphasis on space and spare but direct emotion in words and music. That selections from nearly ten years apart have a similar essential core may result in part from careful post-production to an extent. In the end, though, Russell's own particular muse dictates the feeling, from the quietly bubbling energy of "A Little Lost" (Russell's singing on the chorus in particular is a dream) and "Keeping Up" to the reflective melancholia of "Losing My Taste for the Night Life." Special note should go to two of the few collaborations included, "My Tiger, My Timing" and especially "In the Light of the Miracle," where percussion, backing vocals, and brass instruments bring out his obsessions with beat more thoroughly. His cello performances are jaw-dropping on their own, at once pop and not pop. "Home Away from Home" finds hooks and then abandons them, changes pace and timbre at the drop of a hat, and uses subtle overdubs to emphasize rhythm but not overwhelm. Brief appreciative liner notes aptly convey his successes and the tragedy of his death, but it's the songs that serve as the best epitaph for a unique artist.

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