Master Mix: Red Hot + Arthur Russell

For twenty-five years now, Red Hot Organization has been “Fighting AIDS Through Popular Culture.” The non-profit group has teamed up with artists, musicians, and record labels over the last two decades-plus to produce some of the most unique and successful charity albums of our generation. The American folk-inspired compilation Dark Was the Nightreleased in 2009, is one of the few CDs that survived my digitization-then-physical-media purge of 2012.

On October 21, Red Hot and Yep Records will release Master Mix, a tribute to the genius of Arthur Russell. Hot Chip covers “Go Bang,” one of Russell’s Dinosaur L tunes.

Nothing can touch the vocal power and instrumental dynamism of Russell, who died of AIDS-related causes in New York in ’92. But if this album of interpretations can bring more support for the cause and expose more people to the man’s music, then I’m doubly enthused.

Incidentally, Sufjan Stevens covers “A Little Lost” on this album. And while I’m sure it’s decent (and I look forward to hearing it), I doubt it’ll come close to this little gem of a rendition by Jens Lekman, released on the Four Songs EP in 2007.

And in case you’ve never heard the real Arthur Russell, listen to “Wild Combination, and then check out the moving documentary of the same name by Matt Wolf.

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