Arthur Russell

The World of Arthur Russell

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In almost every other case, "The World Of" would be a careless, ill-suited phrase to use as the prefix of a compilation's title. "The World Of [insert name of grunge band or substyle here]," for instance. In Arthur Russell's case, using "The World Of" is entirely appropriate. When you're listening to Russell -- whether it's one of his solo cello recordings or one of his peculiar disco productions -- you can feel as if you've been relocated to a place that you don't really want to ever leave. This is the common trait that each of his varied recordings shares. Russell and his collaborators are your friends, and the music they made is all the nutrition you need. It sounds silly, but it is 100 percent true. No one disc could possibly contain Russell's entire world, but this one samples from it rather well, emphasizing his mindbending club-oriented output and scattering three of his more private moments. The keen and curious could've rounded up the majority of the disc's inclusions on a number of various-artist compilations released within the past few years, in addition to paying princely sums for the handful of previously vinyl-only tracks; despite this, a compilation like this has been necessary for a very long time, since it provides a one-stop overview of one of dance music's innovators. The most-known track here is Larry Levan's mix of "Is It All Over My Face," a single that actually dented the U.S. club chart in 1980; it's Russell at his most straightforward, but it's also strange enough to be recognized instantly, thanks to its graceful electric piano line and singular vocals from a Loft regular. Fran├žois Kevorkian's mix of "#5 (Go Bang!)" reshapes the relatively slick jazz-funk-disco of the original into dub-drenched dementia, throwing in woozy horn blurts to add further Kingston accents. A 13-minute version of "In the Light of the Miracle" is the most life-affirming inclusion; this left-field house precursor might as well be a sun dance or an offering, as you can visualize clouds parting once Russell's frail, slightly cracked voice joins to accompany a light 4/4 thump and one of the most elegantly layered collections of assorted percussion elements. Again, this all hardly shows the whole picture. Other places where valuable traces of Russell's club side reside include the Strut label's two Disco Not Disco compilations and David Mancuso's pair of Loft anthologies, released by Nuphonic. As is the case with most Soul Jazz releases, there's plenty of information included in the accompanying booklet.

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