The many facets of Arthur Russell seem to reveal themselves one album at a time. The avant-garde cellist was as just as comfortable stretching out on the dancefloor as he was performing solo pieces at the Kitchen, the storied experimental performance space in New York City. For every Loose Joints 12" that's been pressed up, there's a reel of tape with music that Russell recorded that has yet to be released. Since 2005 Audika has been dedicated to making sense of this goldmine of material. Aside from the disco classics and echo drenched experimental cello pieces there is a wealth of singer songwriter material that moves beautifully through country, folk and pop tinged rock. Love Is Overtaking Me contains 21 tracks recorded between 1974 and 1990, and contains some of the best of this material. Russell was courted for a brief time by the luminous John Hammond at Columbia, who saw in him the next Bob Dylan or Springsteen. It was a complicated relationship that saw Russell stretch Hammond's patience, especially when he would bring in nearly every musician he knew to work on his demos. They came from the East Village and downtown scenes, and included Peter Gordon, Ernie Brooks, Andy Paley, Jerry Harrison, Steven Hall, Larry Saltzman, Jon Gibson, Jimmy Chamberlain, David Van Tieghem, and Peter Zummo. Russell recorded with them as well as his bands the Flying Hearts and the Sailboats, capturing rehearsals of songs they would perform. There is so much to like about the songs presented here, one wonders if Russell would have reached a wider audience if he was not a perfectionist for whom nothing was ever done. Through all of the myriads of styles that Arthur Russell moved effortlessly through, he was a composer and songwriter who wished - and succeeded - to express tenderness, empathy, and gentleness in everything he did. Recommended.
- foldout insert
- music label: Audika 2014
reviewed by Michu Meszaros 01/2015