A Long Lost Arthur Russell Interview

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This message is from Bob Blank. I was the producer of 'Wax The Van', for the artist Lola.

The article I just read contained conjecture and innacuracies that need to be mentioned.

I worked with Arthur for years before the creation of "Wax The Van'; I did literally hundreds of recording sessions with Arthur as engineer and as producer (I produced Arthur and group for Sire Records as The Necessaries). Lola (my wife) was one of the vocalists on "Go Bang" which I also remixed - Arthur was interested in working with Lola on a record and worked out 'Wax The Van' as one of 5 titles we recorded for an album (another title from this album came out on Jump Street Records). I had produced Sleeping Bag's first #1 title - 'Weekend', and Will Socolov was very happy about our producing a song for Lola - we both assumed it would be a good product, and it was.

I created the rhythm track, playing the drum machine (!) and of course guitar (as I had done on our other #1 NY record, 'Over Like A Fat Rat')and Arthur played piano and sang a chrous part. Ken Smith was brought in to play bass, and of course Lola sang it. My six year old son Kenny sang the 'why why' parts - another great part contributed by Arthur - and Arthur got all the credit and $$ compensation that we agreed to and was entitled to. He was to continue to work with me for another few years until his death, at my home studio in Connecticut, after I sold Blank Tapes Studio in 1987.

The reason for Arthur's departure from Sleeping Bag was simple, and it was not, as the author imples, due to a disagreement over the record 'Wax The Van'. Quite simply, Will wanted to take the label to 'another level', and he and Arthur had many artistic disagreements. Will wnet on to achieve great success without Arthur (effectively screwing him out of his part of the company, which Arthur was co-owner with Juggy Gayles and Will) and of course, Arthur went on doing projects. 'World Of Echo' was one - I worked on this as I had done on many of the projects he did.

I think the original article, written at the time of great upheaval in Arthur's life and from a perspective of the times, has a sweetly innocent quality that belies it's ignorance. For instance, the cute 'fishy' metaphors conclude by naming the publishing company's name, Beach House Music. Cute tie in, but in reality, it was Will's family's restaurant, the Beach House, on the West Vilage, that gave the publishing company it's moniker, not any relation to Arthur.

Another title is still "in the Can' from the last few years of working with Arthur; many memories remain, like the 1951 Chevy that Arthur drove east to trade for payment of studio time (I eventually gave it away) and the times spent in my attic studios in Stamford.

Hey, the article was 20 years ago, right?

Anyway, thanks for letting me set the record straight. Email me....

Bob Blank, Friday, 16 September 2005 02:03 (thirteen years ago) Permalink


andrew m. (andrewmorgan), Friday, 16 September 2005 02:29 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

"wax the van" is pretty classic.

Russell's passion for extended groove formats was well in evidence, the single clocking in at 18 minutes

18 minutes?

vahid (vahid), Friday, 16 September 2005 02:35 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Just shy of 13.

Thanks for the Aural Exciters as well!

Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Friday, 16 September 2005 04:06 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

"Disco music was strongly influenced by repetitive music. The appearance of the minimalists like myself in the pop circles contributed to this trend. Although pop musicians based themselves on us, they still created their own forms. Their musical language was expanded." - Philip Glass.

what an egotistical fuck.

hstencil (hstencil), Friday, 16 September 2005 04:13 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Thanks for the additional info and perspective, Bob. I now have this great image in my head of Arthur driving a Chevy listening to his own musics blasting through the speakers... (incidentally, I just bought a 1986 rerelease of the "Go Bang/Clean On Your Bean" 12" last week :-))

willem (willem), Friday, 16 September 2005 06:19 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

one year passes...
I just stumbled across another MM interview/feature on Arthur Russell and Sleeping Bag Records in a pile of cuttings - dates from a year earlier than this one, i.e. 1986.

If there's a demand I'll scan and YSI it or something.

Jeff W (zebedee), Thursday, 28 September 2006 10:13 (twelve years ago) Permalink

please do!

stirmonster (stirmonster), Thursday, 28 September 2006 10:32 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Yeah, that'd be great!

Gerard (Gerard), Thursday, 28 September 2006 10:40 (twelve years ago) Permalink


Raw Patrick (Raw Patrick), Thursday, 28 September 2006 10:52 (twelve years ago) Permalink

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