Arthur Russell - Love Is Overtaking Me LP

(Audika, 2008)

“Arthur Russell made tremendously unlikely music throughout the 80s (cello-led disco?!); collaborated with Allen Ginsberg, Phillip Glass, and various Talking Heads and Modern Lovers; and the handful of fully realized albums now available don’t need any elegies or myths of what-could-have-been to justify discovering them. Plus, we have this compilation of non-album tracks and singles to trace Russell’s musical evolution from the mid-70s to the mid-80s, or rather to summon some nostalgia for his rural youth before he came to NYC, through the cowboy songs he covered, and the country-tinged pop he wrote alongside the better-known songs.

While this starts out as an easy listening but never-quite-sickly take on Country – the gradual experimentation between 1974 and 1986 means that you can literally hear Arthur Russell inventing Smog, Lambchop (‘I Forget and I Can’t Tell’), Yo La Tengo (‘Habit of You’), and, best of all, Magnetic Fields (‘Janine’, the deliriously poppy ‘Big Moon’, and Russell's own favourite, 'The Letter').

A personal favorite is 'What it’s like', the longest, and most instrumentally-detailed track here. Basically, the song starts off like Smog putting some dirt into Eric Clapton’s ‘Wonderful Tonight’ – with a simple narrative of a country girl confessing her sexual adventures in the cornfields to her priest; she had to know, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t love Jesus, right?” - Alexander Tudor for Drowned In Sound