“Do you want a tray for all those mugs?” – Sam Russo
I decided to do this issue of Going Underground on Sam Russo for one single reason, if I didn’t do it soon then I never could. There’s a big countdown-esque clock ticking away, and when it hits the “dun-nen, nen-nen, nen-a-nen, duuuun” Russo will be catapulted into the dead centre spot light of “acoustic punk.” Sam Russo is, and this isn’t arguable, the best songwriter the UK has to offer. In fact, if someone wanted to contest against this, the debate might go a little like this, “Sam’s the best!” “No he isn’t.” “You’re an idiot.” “You’re right I am, Sam’s the best.”
It’s funny though, because I was once that exact idiot. The first time I heard Russo was on the Hotel Payphone Carpark Demos track ‘All These Postcards’ and it did nothing for me. The recording was almost inaudible, and I couldn’t understand why I’d heard such great things about this guy. Then I saw Sam live. There was such a raw honesty in the way each line was sung, I not only felt like I could relate wholly, but that I’d been there next to him through every experience of his narrative lyrical style, because the words are where the true magic of Sam Russo lies.
Russo openly admits he hates recording but, thankfully, practically everything else I’ve heard on record is pure gold (can I really count ‘XXXXXXXX’ and his phone call to Giles as pure gold? Well, maybe the latter).
He’s also a fucking nice bloke and if you tell him you’re a poet and show him one you’ve wrote he might just give you a little magpie badge, or maybe that was just me.