While taking residence as a keyboard player, vocalist and song contributor in the short-lived post-punk quartet The Necessaries. Dance music innovator Arthur Russell anticipated the future of NYC downtown dance rock machinations. As with a great deal of Event Horizon, which will receive the 180 gm vinyl reissue treatment from Be With Records, Russell and famed dance music producer, Bob Blank, committed destiny to tape.
With the muffled spoken-like presence on Driving and Talking At The Same Time, pushing the forlorn lyrical mood, Russell summons his exact inner metronome to build this infectious sway that is set impeccably within a searing power pop/new wave encasing. Glimmering constructs such as these, unfortunately, fell on deaf ears at Sire Records. Label head Seymour Stein had Talking Heads, Blondie, The Pretenders, Soft Cell, The Cure and all those Madonna 12 inches…. that for a time tried to convince NYC that she was black by not putting her picture on the sleeve.
Anyway. The list of artists competing for promotional ink gets long. Event Horizon never had a shot.
The Necessaries was fronted by Ed Tomney and featured the Modern Lovers’ Ernie Brooks and Jesse Chamberlain. Both were formerly of the Red Crayola. Event Horizon represents the partial overhaul given to The Necessaries’ first record Big Sky from 1981. Renamed and relaunched in 1982, five songs written by Russell exceed pop sensibilities.
They encapsulated pure gold, Ponyboy.
With More Real, Detroit Tonight, On The Run, The Finish Line and the aforementioned Driving And Talking At The Same Time, it’s as if Russell peaked through a portal to the future. Saw The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Rapture and LCD Soundsystem. Introduced those sullen tones to his own moody post-punk DNA and brought it all back to the early 80’s. As to say, “I don’t have time to wait. Death comes at you fast”.
Sure there are several songs that do represent the current musical trends at that time. State Of The Art is a dark sparkle hat-tip to the emerging presence of Gary Numan, while Rage is stellar The Replacements meets The Minutemen punch-up with Russell’s avant-garde cello giving off dark embellishments.
More Real is a mid-tempo lament that garners placement on a mix tape just before When You Were Mine by Prince. And Sahara is a wonky “good type of cheesy” statement that reflects the post-disco repositioning of mainstream rock that was embodied, by the band Kiss.
These dalliances with established and upcoming new sounds were not cheap Radio Shack ripoffs. Most of them were worthy of The Necessaries making an appearance on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. Overall, he was on to something. Desperately trying to balance all these ideas and sounds he saw coming on the horizon, The Necessaries was his closest assessment of what the oncoming decade had in-store for the indie rock format. Russell quit the band by jumping out of the van at the mouth of the Holland Tunnel in New York, while on the way to an important gig. He went on to score massive underground hits under the aliases of Dinosaur L and Loose Joints.
He passed away in 1992 with a myriad of unfinished projects on the table. The value of staying alive can never be disputed.
Event Horizon will be available on vinyl on Be With Records Friday September 15th HERE
Driving And Talking At The Same Time