Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Typical for the music of Calvin Russell was the abrupt change between no-frills, punchy, from the Electric blues -influenced roots rock and guitar -dominated, but equally expressive songs in singer-songwriter and folk style - a style that sometimes with the the US band Steppenwolf was compared. As an important intention of his musical creation Russell called the struggle for dignity, respect and acceptance. About the way to relieve the pain associated with success, he spoke against the Neue Zürcher Zeitung pessimistic: "I went through hell on earth, and this pain (...) one can never get by so great nor success." [3] Skeptical he commented in the late 1990s and the prospects of roots music in the USA: "Our sound is not applicable in the United States just as cool. Funny is that young rock groups like the Smashing Pumpkins live on the roots and we Americana -Musikern give much attention. Your CDs are not overproduced, wild and lyrical, I like that, " 

European media certified Calvin Russell especially an exceptionally high degree of authenticity. Another unique feature of Russell applies the straightforwardness and dot precision of his music. Heinz-Jürgen Rippert wrote in an obituary on the website : "Calvin Russell impressed itself on a fast with his face marked by life. His voice was hard, rough and his songs seemed authentic. The songs are about life away from the established strata in the United States, beyond the glossy pages that are so happy paraded in the media. They tell of life on the streets, in prisons and the longing for dignity and a little luck. It is no accident called to the singer-songwriter as Charles Bukowski of music. " The music website wrote on the occasion of the release of the album In Spite Of It All: "Calvin Russell is one of the most authentic songwriters America. He wears his heart on his tongue, every angle of his great soul can be clearly seen for music fans. Russell's bluesy songs tell of freedom and adventure, of longing and vulnerability, of the undying love and deep disappointments, from the prairie, of never their goal reaching overland trains and the rugged beauty of the Wild West as it also today still existent is. " 


01. You're My Baby 03:46
02. Last Night 04:44
03. One Meat Ball 03:54
04. Crossroads 07:32
05. May Be Someday 05:35
06. Rockin' The Republicans 04:40
07. Baby I Love You 02:21
08. Love Stealer 04:12
09. You Don't Know 05:08
10. Down Down Down 03:41
11. One Meat Ball (Acoustic) 03:58


Recorded At – Arlyn Studios
Phonographic Copyright (p) – New Rose Records
Backing Vocals – Kimmie Rhodes
Bass – David Waddell
Design [Sleeve] – Huart / Cholley*
Drums – Leland Waddell
Guitar – Gary Craft
Photography By – Alain Duplantier
Photography By [Treatments] – Renaud Marot
Producer – Joe Gracey*
Saxophone – Tomas Ramirez*
Vocals, Guitar – Calvin Russell
Recorded at Arlyn Studios, Austin, TX. 

This album is dedicated to Austin, Angie and Red with all my love. 

(P) New Rose Records 1991 / Made in France


Once heard, usually on one of the BBC radio programmes presented by Bob Harris, Calvin Russell's gravelly voice, his tales of love and loss and his protest songs, stayed with you. An ex-convict and one-time associate of Townes Van Zandt, a Texan singer-songwriter he had much in common with, Russell never rose above cult status in the US or the UK, but found success throughout continental Europe in the 1990s. Already 40 when he signed to the French independent label New Rose in 1989, he seemed determined to make up for lost time, releasing 15 albums in 20 years, and maintaining a busy touring schedule. Last seen in Europe in November 2009, he still wore one of his trademark cowboy hats cut around the brim that made him look like an undertaker straight out of a Lucky Luke cartoon, but he was the real outlaw deal.

Calvert Russell Kosler was the fourth of nine children born to a short-order cook and a waitress at the Sho'Nuff Café in Austin, Texas. His parents struggled to make ends meet and the family often did a midnight flit when they fell behind with the rent. He was a troubled teenager, keener to listen to Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry and imitate his elder sister's guitar-playing boyfriend than to study. In the early 1960s he formed The Cavemen and began playing the Chicago and Delta blues he heard Wolfman Jack play on the radio.

At the age of 15 he ran away to San Francisco but soon drifted back to his native state, where he sold marijuana and LSD. In 1968, he was arrested after trying to use someone else's credit card while high on drugs and sent to the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville. "I didn't think I was going to make it," he said. "The guards were a sorry, sadistic bunch and they'd look for any excuse to whale on you."

Encouraged by a cellmate with the colourful name Shotgun McAdams, he began writing poems and songs. However, he spent the next 15 years in and out of jail for small-time drug dealing, including 18 months in a Mexican prison. Back in Austin, he fell in with Van Zandt, another reprobate and a gifted songwriter: "He had this magical use of words. I remember he played 'Pancho and Lefty', that's when I realised just what a song could do. I shut up around Townes and listened. All my intelligence just went right to him."

Now calling himself Calvin Russell, since no one ever seemed to be able to say or spell Calvert, he honed his songwriting skills and recorded a tape containing 22 of his compositions. He intended to present the cassette to Charlie Sexton, a Texan guitar prodigy with a hit album who he heard was paying a return visit to Austin. Instead, he gave it to Patrick Mathé, the co-founder of the New Rose label, who had complimented him on his singing and guitar-playing at a party they both attended at Austin's Continent Club. "I took the tape out of my pocket, like a cowboy drawing a pistol in a Western. Patrick said, 'I want to put a record out,' and I thought, well, Warner Brothers ain't knocking my door down, so, yeah, go ahead. I didn't expect anything to happen."

Russell joined New Rose's roster of garage and psychedelic rock legends – Alex Chilton, Sky Saxon, Roky Erickson, Arthur Lee – as well as British and French alternative artists, and became one of its best acts. His critically acclaimed 1990 debut, A Crack In Time, sold 100,000 copies, and he became a fixture on television and on the touring circuit throughout continental Europe, where his blend of blues, country and rock appealed to Hell's Angels as much as to fans of what was just starting to be called Americana.

Russell made the most of the redemptive opportunities that finally came his way. He recorded two albums produced by the legendary Jim Dickinson, Soldier in 1992 and Calvin Russell in 1997, the latter featuring the Green On Red guitarist Chuck Prophet and the Muscle Shoals session stalwarts David Hood on bass and Roger Hawkins on drums. In 1993, he played 178 concerts in Europe, as documented on the Le Voyageur live album. In 1994, he appeared in a TV commercial for Motorex Oil of Switzerland, performing the evocative "Crossroads", his best-known composition. After another drugs bust back in Texas in the mid-'90s, he lived in France, Amsterdam and Switzerland, and was put on probation when he eventually returned to the States with his fourth wife, Cynthia, a Swiss citizen who was 27 years his junior.

A rootsy singer-songwriter in the vein of JJ Cale, Steve Earle and Lucinda Williams, Russell was never a prophet in his own country. "I'm not easy to pigeonhole," he said. "I don't just play the blues, or rock or country music. And my life in the US is so wrapped up with all my past misdemeanours. I blew it there, that's all."

Despite undergoing a liver transplant last year, he died of liver cancer.

info by Pierre Perrone


-Soldier calvin russell 

-I dreamed I saw 
-Rats & roaches 
-Down in Texas 
-Shackles and chains 
-This could be the day 
-This is your world (Memphis mix) 
-White rails (bonus track)

Phonographic Copyright (p) – New Rose Records

Copyright (c) – New Rose Records
Licensed From – New Rose Records
Record Company – SPV GmbH
Distributed By – SPV GmbH – 084-92652
Pressed By – BOD Berlin Optical Disc
Recorded At – Arlyn Studios
Mixed At – Three Alarm Studios
Backing Vocals – J. Dickinson*
Bass – David Waddell
Design [Sleeve] – Cloe*
Drums – Leland Waddell
Engineer – Stewart Sullivan*
Lead Guitar, Acoustic Guitar – Gary Craft
Mandolin – Luther Dickinson
Mixed By – Bob (Cruiser) Krusen* (tracks: 1 to 8), Jim Dickinson (tracks: 9)
Organ, Piano – Jim Dickinson
Photography By [Landscapes] – Huart/Cholley
Photography By [Portrait] – Alain Duplantier
Producer – Jim Dickinson
Songwriter [Songs By] – Calvin Russell (tracks: 1 to 5, 7 to 9)
Vocals, Acoustic Guitar – Calvin Russell
Recorded at Arlyn Studios, Austin Texas, mixed at Three Alarm Studios, Memphis Tenn. Track 9 mixed in Memphis Tenn. 

℗1992 New Rose Records ©1992 New Rose Records 

Under license from New Rose Records 
1992 SPV Records a Division of SPV GmbH. 
Made in Germany

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