Hear Arthur Russell’s Previously Unreleased “The Boy With The Smile”

The avant-garde pop genius Arthur Russell worked in obscurity for most of his too-short career. He died of complications from AIDS in 1992, at the age of 40. About a decade after his death, Russell’s music went through a huge reappraisal, and it remains tremendously influential now. Russell had left behind a vast trove of unreleased music, and that music has been coming out ever since, one collection at a time. Amazingly, there’s still music left in those vaults. In a couple of months, we’ll get a whole new Arthur Russell album.

The forthcoming LP Picture Of Bunny Rabbit collects music that Arthur Russell recorded after his 1985 HIV diagnosis, when he was doing a lot of work in New York’s avant garde dance community. All of it was recorded in Lower Manhattan, with Russell accompanying himself on cello, keyboard, guitar, and harmonica. One of the songs on the album is “The Boy With A Smile,” which is out now.

A live version of “The Boy With A Smile” came out in 2020 on Sketches For World Of Echo, a live album recorded in 1984, but this is the first time that the studio version has been released. It’s a ghostly song, with Russell’s angelic voice bathed in echo, singing over a spare cello. By the time the song ends, it seems to be disappearing into that echo, turning into a kind of chaotic elegy. Below, listen to “The Boy With A Smile” and check out the Picture Of Bunny Rabbit tracklist.


01 “Fuzzbuster #10”
02 “Not Checking Up”
03 “Telling No One”
04 “Fuzzbuster #06”
05 “The Boy With a Smile”
06 “Fuzzbuster #09”
07 “Very Reason”
08 “Picture Of Bunny Rabbit”
09 “In The Light Of A Miracle”

Picture Of Bunny Rabbit is out 6/23 on Audika.