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Luther Russell

Musician

Luther Russell is a Los Angeles based multi-instrumentalist and one-half of the acclaimed duo Those Pretty Wrongs alongside Big Star founding member Jody Stephens.  From 1989 through 1996, he was the frontman of the band The Freewheelers, who were signed to Geffen/DGC Recordings & Rick Rubin's American Recordings.   He is a frequent collaborator of Robyn Hitchcock's and also co-wrote two songs ('L.A. Girlz' & 'Endless Bummer') featured on Weezer's eponymous 2016 Grammy-nominated album (commonly referred to as 'The White Album').  Luther recently released the two-disc retrospective "Selective Memories: An Anthology," which features music from his three-decade career, including material from his pre-The Freewheelers outfit The Bootheels (which featured a pre-Wallflowers Jakob Dylan and Tobi Miller as members).  Billboard Magazine called it "an illuminating two-disc compendium that has plenty of surprises."   "Selective Memories: An Anthology" is available via the Spanish label Hanky Panky, as well as a limited edition double cassette issued by Burger Records.  The anthology also features liner notes written by veteran music journalist Bud Scoppa and Larry Crane, editor of Tape Op Magazine & owner of Jackpot! Recording Studio.  This is Luther Russell's Fidelity High: The Beatles // The Beatles // Apple Records // 1968. Luther says, "I know it is said The White Album is the best Beatles album because there’s two…But besides that glaring fact, I’d personally choose this record as the most important one in my life for several reasons, not in the least that it’s the one piece of musical art that has most opened my eyes to the complexities of the world. There’s so much there. I grew up, literally, with 'Sgt. Pepper,' but when I started to move into my teens, 'The Beatles' started to fascinate me. It wasn’t just the stories around it, which at that time had been handed down: 'Helter Skelter'/Manson, backwards-masking in 'Revolution 9' and the personal nature of tunes like 'Julia.' It was so much more. What was up with that collage in the poster—is Paul naked? What was with the numbers on the front? Why were there two records? What was the deal with that raw, direct sound after the carnival-like echo of 'Pepper?' All the in-jokes and dead-end alleys on things like the 'one more time' after 'Piggies' or the 'can you take me back where I came from' tag after 'Cry Baby Cry.' To this day, I don’t think it gets any better than 'Sexy Sadie,' as far as that modern-pop acid Lennon groove. Or the doo-wop pastiche in 'Happiness Is A Warm Gun.' The record just intrigues me to no end. The sound of 1968 is a good one on most British records, but 'The White Album' has something deep, something biting. I’m not one of those people that can do without 'Revolution 9' or 'Goodnight.' It’s all welcome and in its place. A friend once told me he thought it was the first 'post-modern' rock record, and in a way I agree. The utter minimalism of the blank, white cover with the eponymous title, the Richard Hamilton collage, the apples…just totally hip and never dates. Those portraits of each Beatle which you can stare at for days. What are they thinking with those blown minds? There’s so much mystery in that pre-internet age and the ideas and sounds are just pushing the boundaries of what could even be considered an album! There are many records I can pick as essential, but for me 'The Beatles' is the pinnacle. It’s unbelievable to me that it will be 50 this year. How is that possible? There’s still so much to unpack in that record. I think the former ‘mop tops’ had seen and done so much by that time, and it was them declaring their independence. Brian Epstein had just died and they formed their own label. For a fleeting moment there they were a complete band. I know there’s all this bullshit talk about how it’s really four solo records. That’s just simply not true. Especially by today’s standards. 'Yer Blues,' just the four of them wailing away in a room the size of a closet. Or the over 100 takes of 'Happiness…' It only takes a cursory listen to the outtakes on the Anthology to see they worked all this stuff out together in a room for the most part. They just had a few studios going at once, which was a very modern, new concept at the time. Have you heard the Kinfauns acoustic demos they did for preparation? That’s teamwork. They came off a heavy trip in India, just looking within after the whole Beatlemania freakout. They got back to basics.  It’s the only self-titled record they made, and I believe there is a conscious or unconscious reason: it’s really who they were, warts and all. Many, many songs are total genius, even the tossed-off ones. 'Martha My Dear?' I could listen to that on repeat until the end of time. I will take 'The White Album' with me to the grave, honestly. And after I die, I’ll still be trying to decipher it.

www.lutherrussell.com

www.thoseprettywrongs.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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