Arthur Russell epitomised the spirit that defined downtown NYC in the 70s and 80s. Yet his inability to
complete projects resulted in limited output. Be With now present the reissue of Event Horizon, an
album Arthur did finish with his cult group The Necessaries. Criminally neglected for 35 years, its
scarcity on vinyl has caused it to evade his most diehard fans and its relative obscurity has rendered it
largely unknown, even amongst Arthur acolytes.
Arthur played keys in the new wave/power pop quartet, as well as writing half the songs and contributing his inimitable vocals and avant-garde cello. Fronted by the muscular guitar of lead singer Ed
Tomney, the band was rounded out by Ernie Brooks (The Modern Lovers) on bass and drummer Jesse
Chamberlain (ex-Red Crayola). The record was produced by the legendary Bob Blank and featured the
pulsing trombone of Peter Zummo.
Event Horizon represents the partial overhaul given to The Necessaries’ first record Big Sky (1981).
Renamed and relaunched in 1982, The New York Rocker described the revised LP as benefitting from
“some shuffling, some trimming of deadweight and the setting of real gems in their place. The biggest
plus – “More Real” – is easily the prettiest song the Zombies never wrote”. That track, as well as the
towering “Driving And Talking At The Same Time” (below), “Detroit Tonight”, “On The Run” and “The
Finish Line”, came from the pen of Arthur. They are undoubtedly the best tracks on the album,
wonderfully capturing Arthur’s softer, more melodic approach to pop.
With an uncompromising post punk attitude, The Necessaries blended distorted guitars and loud drums
with melodious, intelligent songwriting. It’s weird and minimal, but it’s still resolutely pop. Like much of
Arthur’s work, the songs are warm, shimmering and modern; catchy, hypnotic and utterly timeless. As
well as handling a lot of the lead vocals, he arranged the tracks too, stripping away some of the new
wave poppiness and adding his signature beautiful moodiness. It sounds like the most transcendent
idea of what pop music could be.
Event Horizon should’ve been one of the most influential records in rock music history. Like most slept-
on classics, it didn’t make the immediate impact it intended to, and was forgotten by Sire and,
eventually, by fans. Nevertheless, Arthur forged ahead with his solo career after abruptly quitting the
band by jumping out of the van at the mouth of the Holland Tunnel in New York, while on the way to an
Whilst Event Horizon will appeal to all Arthur Russell completists, it demands further examination
beyond his fans. It’s long been an elusive missing piece to the lore of the downtown scene, but it won’t
be for much longer. Art Pop? Jangle Pop? Power Pop? Whatever. Far ahead of its time, this is pure pop
for now people.
The original, iconic artwork has been faithfully restored whilst Simon Francis’ dextrous mastering adds
real clarity throughout. As ever, the record has been pressed at a reassuringly weighty 180g.
Additionally, the album features extensive liner notes on a printed inner sleeve by renowned writer and
friend of the downtown scene Mikey IQ Jones.