by Sean Jewell::
The general consensus around town is that Sam Russell writes better songs than anyone, ever. Don’t be threatened. You probably won’t seen him around, and if you do he’ll look at his shoes and chin wag about his small town upbringing in Wisconsin until you think he’s just like you. But he ain’t. You see how his hair lays perfectly greased? How his collar is starched just so? Genuflect, mortal, you’re in the presence of a legend. Ask any engineer or producer around. He’s been in their studio, his presence still lives in the boards. He’s busy recording the 25 album catalogue we’ll only get to hear posthumously, but his life doesn’t begin or end, he’s the wraith that is rock n’ roll. He’s a studio ghost, and with a sermon and a séance Sam Russell conjures his Teen Soul Explosion of musicians –a host of angels known for their strength, sinfulness, unrestrained passion, perfect musical timing, and harmonies. He commands this legion, recording all manner of things that sound like Brian Wilson‘s sanity on a three day bender with David Bowie‘s hubris at Fame Studios with Wilson Pickett and Duane Allman agog in the wing. He’s our generation’s Harry Nilsson, minus all the cocaine. All his songs have hidden meanings, the secrets of the universe are wrapped in his reverb-laden vocals, the milky way is the ribbon in his mic, our universe’s sun is a twinkle in his eye. That twinkle is a one-hundred septillion watt machine that crushes matter until it makes the sound he wants to hear. It’ll take every studio from here to Memphis to capture his sound properly.
I have it on good authority he once showed up and recorded all of Bob Dylan‘s Blonde on Blonde (or was it Blood on the Tracks?) cover to cover, unrehearsed, without breaks. Bob Dylan probably asked him to so he could hear what it should sound like before he dies. I haven’t heard it, but can you imagine? I’ve seen him transform from a citizen at a show to Thee Sam Russell and flawlessly recite every lyric of his modern blues epic “The Auctioneer” at a moment’s notice, which raised the temperature of the room 100 degrees, and caused Bo Diddley to get up out of the grave and dance. But I digress, he doesn’t need accolades, or acceptance. He feeds on soul. You should go see his show. Scholars won’t know for another 10,000 years why it’s at Darrell’s Tavern on Aurora, but that’s not for you to know. Let your faith –the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of that music which has yet to be heard– guide you. For Sam Russell is the light.