wax Poetics
Love Injection

Record Rundown

Love Injection

published online
By Imani Thomas

In anticipation of the 'BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn' event curated by Dada Strain, which marks the release of Anthology’s landmark publication "Travels Over Feeling: Arthur Russell, a Life" by Richard King, we interviewed Barbie Bertisch and Paul Raffaele of Love Injection for a special Record Rundown inspired by Arthur Russell.

Love Injection will kick off the evening on July 12th with a DJ set, setting the stage for the Wordless Music Orchestra's performance of Russell’s seminal 1983 album "Tower of Meaning."

1. Loose Joints - Is It All Over My Face? (Female Vocal)

One of the biggest records to be played at the Paradise Garage and a defining New York record. Co-written and co-produced with DJ Steve D’Acquisto, an Italian-American New York DJ and co-founder of the Record Pool with David Mancuso. The pair met at the Gallery around the time Arthur had started releasing dance records, and the two quickly got to talking ideas. D’Acquisto approached West End’s Mel Cheren to pitch a record deal. In 1980, they got in the studio with the Ingram brothers on rhythm and cut the male vocal version first. It wasn’t getting a great reaction so the label asked the Paradise Garage’s Larry Levan to cut a new version and, on borrowed studio time, he found the female vocal by Melvina Woods, a Loft dancer, buried in the multitracks. Larry’s mix focused on Melvina’s performance, and was dubbed the ‘Female Vocal.’ Mel recounts that Frankie Crocker was in the room when Larry played it on a Sunday morning, and it was on WBLS by Monday.

2. Peter Gordon - That Hat (feat. Arthur Russell)

One of our favorite pieces of music in the canon, is this song by Peter Gordon, from his 1986 album “Innocent.” The work represents this incredible fusion of sounds coming out of the NYC scene featuring traditionally trained musicians who set their sights on pushing the creative boundaries of the era. The sound was avant garde and Arthur Russell played a big role in fusing jazz with dance music. Peter Gordon & The Love of Life Orchestra, his more disco sounding project, has released some of the most beautiful recordings from that time.

3. Arthur Russell - In The Light Of The Miracle (Danny Krivit & Tony Smith Remix)

In The Light of the Miracle, like most of Arthur’s work, was first released post-humously in 1994 by friend Phillip Glass on the brilliant ‘Another Thought’, a CD via his Point Blank imprint. Gilles Peterson reportedly heard the song at the Point Blank offices and sought to reissue it on his own Talkin’ Loud label, commissioning Danny Krivit and Tony Smith to do a remix. The project only got as far as a promo 12” and was shelved for reasons we’re unsure of. The long, hypnotic version is a departure from what you would expect from Danny, and I love that it exists.   

4. Arthur Russell - Let's Go Swimming (Coastal Dub)

Released by Rough Trade in ‘86, the Coastal Dub sees the pioneering New York DJ and remixer, the late Walter Gibbons, at the controls. Let’s Go Swimming came from the World of Echo album but this standalone 12” is all about creating these atmospheric, spaced out, amorphous ‘dance’ versions that feel uncategorizable, way ahead of their time, and foundational for the future of dance music. Gibbons passed at a young age in 1994, one of the many, unquantifiable losses of the AIDS era that decimated New York’s gay community.

5. Arthur Russell - List Of Boys

Aside from the catchy, funky, accessible nature of the song I’m struck by how clean and polished Arthurs vocals are here. They’re up front, in no way introverted – really going for it, so it didn’t surprise me when I learned that “several tracks on Iowa Dream Russell originally recorded as demos, in two early examples of his repeated brushes with potential popular success—first in 1974, with Paul Nelson of Mercury Records, and then in 1975, with the legendary John Hammond of Columbia Records. For different reasons, neither session amounted to a record deal.”

6. Arthur Russell - Hop On Down

Peter Zummo’s free synth explorations over programmed drums is such a joy to take in to as Arthurs vocals float over the top in high fidelity. Truly experimental, inspired music that still sound futuristic.

7. Arthur Russell - Sketch For “Face Of Hellen” (Instrumentals, 2017, Audika Records)

One of Arthurs most elusive compositions, Sketch For “Face Of Helen” was inspired by his work with friend and composer Arnold Dreyblatt, using an electronic tone generator, keyboard and ambient recordings of a rumbling tugboat from the Hudson River. It is included in Instrumentals released in 2017 that focused on Arthur’s pre-disco aspirations to be a composer inspired by the photography of his Buddhist teacher, Yuko Nonomura. Arthur wrote this album to accompany a viewing of Nonomura’s slides.

8. Dinosaur L - Go Bang #5 / Clean On Your Bean #1

A definitive Arthur Russell production from his Sleeping Bag era. Go Bang! became a foundational record at David Mancuso’s Loft, reaching legendary status. François Kevorkian (aka François K), who mixed the 12” single, personally brought his copy to the party and it became an instant sensation with the dancers. It seemed to encapsulate the feeling of the party perfectly. In his words, “that record was made for the Loft.” François put his mark on some of the greatest (and best sounding) records of the past 40 years and the timelessness of this mix is the result of this monumental meeting of the minds.

9. Arthur Russell - 24 to 24 Music Live at the Kitchen (~20:00-40:00)

As of 1979, this performance of 24 to 24 Music at the Kitchen would have been Arthur Russell’s first public performance of his music in almost two years. At that time he was best known for his album Instrumentals (1975) and performing with the likes of Laurie Anderson, John Cage, Alice Coltrane, Jon Gibson, Peter Gordon, Garrett List, Jackson MacLow and Christian Wolff according to the press release written for this show by The Kitchen Center for Video and Music. My favorite section of this performance is dead center from about 20:00 through 40:00 as it gets loose and fast, driven by Mustafa Ahmed’s percussion.

10. The Necessaries - Driving And Talking At The Same Time

One of the many streaming era casualties is this album by The Necessaries, the band that Russell joined sometime in 1981 that also featured Ernie Brooks (Modern Lovers), Jesse Chamberlain (The Red Crayola), and Ed Tomney (Harry Toledo & The Rockets). The band was a short lived affair for Russell but it’s so special to hear him lean into a more post-punk, new wave sound and landing in new sonic territories. Though when one thinks about all the musical touch points, from his simple pop songs, his work in the avant garde and his more minimal, driving compositions, this record makes total sense.

See Love Injection DJ at BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn on the 12th July 2024. Sign up here for free tickets. 

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