Arthur Russell, whose music was used as the score of Keep the Lights On, was an artist who defied genre. A gifted cellist and composer, his oeuvre ranges from minimalist compositions to beat-heavy disco songs and just about everything in between. But no matter what genre-bending song of Russell’s you happen to be listening to, his talent and his penchant for exploration are made abundantly clear. These selections aim to convey the wide range of both sounds and emotions Russell was able to call upon in his own music as well as provide a context to the acts he associated and/or collaborated with. These songs (with the exception of the last one) are more upbeat than one might expect from Arthur Russell and seem particularly appropriate as summer comes closer.
Dinosaur L – Go Bang (1982)
A hip, infectious acid-jazz groove from one of Arthur Russell’s countless monikers with vocal contributions from minimalist composer Julius Eastman.
Loose Joints – Tell You Today (1983)
An upbeat pop gem from the collaboration of Russell and renowned New York DJ Steve D’Aquisto.
The Modern Lovers – Roadrunner (1976)
A proto-punk jam from The Modern Lovers’ first full length album. Russell was met with harsh criticism from his peers after he booked The Modern Lovers at the typically minimalist oriented NYC venue The Kitchen. Russell helped to expand not only the breadth of music booked at The Kitchen but also aimed to show that minimalism could be found outside of compositional music with bands like The Modern Lovers and Talking Heads.
The Necessaries – More Real (1981)
A sparse yet powerful song from the short lived power-pop quartet. Russell contributed vocals and created minimal compositions for the band before abruptly leaving on the way to a show in 1982.
Talking Heads – Psycho Killer (Alternate Version) (1977)
Russell’s presence on this unique version of the classic song is unmistakable. Russell was a close friend of David Byrne and his cello playing on this version of Byrne’s famous song brings out aspects of both grandeur and elegance that is lacking in the official release of Psycho Killer.
Vera November – Our Last Night Together (Arthur Russell Cover) (2007)
Vera November (Verity Susman of Electrelane) preforms this haunting and thoroughly intimate cover of Arthur Russell’s “Our Last Night Together” for an EP of Russell covers from various musicians.