House of Rufus

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House of Rufus
Box set by Rufus Wainwright
Released July 18, 2011
Recorded 1995–2011[1]
Genre Baroque pop
Language English
Label Decca, DreamWorks, Geffen
Producer Jon Brion, Nick de Grunwald, Marius de Vries, Alex Gifford, Ethan Johns, Bradley Kaplan, Damian LeGassick, Pierre Marchand, Paula Quijano, Phil Ramone, George Scott, Martin R. Smith, Barry Taylor, Rufus Wainwright, Greg Wells
Rufus Wainwright chronology
All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu
(2010)
House of Rufus
(2011)
Out of the Game
(2012)

House of Rufus is a collection of six studio albums, two live albums (one being a double album), four additional albums of previously unreleased material, and six DVDs recorded by Canadian-American singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright, reissued as a 19-disc box set in the United Kingdom on July 18, 2011.[2][3] Wainwright's official site claimed that the collection "spans Rufus' entire career and represents the most complete collection of Rufus Wainwright recordings to date."[2]

The box set's title commemorates the five-night residency of the same name at London's Royal Opera House during July 18–23, 2011. Only 3,000 copies were produced for worldwide distribution. The collection contains "hard-to-find" tracks and is encased in a red velvet-covered book. While some reviewers questioned the need for such an extensive collection, critical reception of the box set was mostly positive.

Background[edit]

The box set's release was confirmed on Wainwright's official site on March 21, 2011.[4] Only 3,000 copies were produced for worldwide distribution.[5] Box sets were sold for £150 in the United Kingdom, 170 throughout Europe, and were available as imports in the United States for $350.[6][7][8] As part of the marketing strategy to promote the collection and concert series, Universal Music Catalogue developed a "treasure hunt" video for YouTube where visitors identified clues and navigated links within a collage of Wainwright's music videos.[9][10] According to Wainwright, the rarities box set was a "little Rufus blast" before he began work on his next pop album.[3] Wainwright also said the following of the collection: "There's my old demos, a lot of them were recorded in Montreal... when I had a very, very different voice, I kind of sounded like a little old man. There's that and there's a lot of fabulous collaborations with my mother, my father and some other great artists."[3] Wainwright had originally intended to call the box set The Rufus Cycle. After being told the title was "too sophisticated", he went with House of Rufus, partly inspired by Lady Gaga's Haus of Gaga.[11] Wainwright claimed the box set's release shortly following his father's (Loudon Wainwright III) box set 40 Odd Years was "totally serendipitous".[11]

The box set's title commemorates the five-night residency at London's Royal Opera House during July 18–23, 2011, also referred to as the "House of Rufus" (sometimes the "Haus of Rufus") or billed as "Five Nights of Velvet, Glamour and Guilt".[12][13] During the first night, Wainwright performed his tribute concert to Judy Garland previously recorded in June 2006 and released as Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall in 2007. The production was repeated on July 22, the fourth concert of the series. The July 19 and 21 shows included performances alongside his sister Martha Wainwright and father Loudon.[8][14][15] The residency's final night included a program called "Rufus Does Rufus" and featured Wainwright performing selections from his 2009 opera Prima Donna.[16] Stephen Oremus conducted the Britten Sinfonia for three of the performances, and soprano Janis Kelly was featured in the "concert version" of Prima Donna.[13] Reception of the residency performances was mixed.[8][17][18]

Contents[edit]

... I'm very very lucky to have over the years worked with so many wonderful people, made some pretty good music and traveled all over the world to see you folks, the fans, and I thank you profusely from the bottom of my heart for generously supporting my career and spending a lot of money on this beautifully crafted collection of my work.[19]

Wainwright on the reason his box set was released at age 37

The box set contains six studio albums: Rufus Wainwright (1998), Poses (2001), Want One (2003), Want Two (2004), Release the Stars (2007), and All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu (2010). Each of the albums contain material that was not released previously.[2] Also included are two live albums (the Grammy-nominated 2007 double album Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall and Milwaukee at Last!!!, released in 2009), each with previously unreleased tracks, along with four additional albums of rarities and six DVDs. Musicians described as "friends and family members" that appear on one disc of collaborations include Kate and Anna McGarrigle, The Pet Shop Boys, Teddy Thompson, Martha Wainwright, and Loudon Wainwright III.[2] Another disc contains demo tracks from the tape which earned Wainwright a recording contract. DVD recordings include Live at the Fillmore, Rufus! Rufus! Rufus! Does Judy! Judy! Judy!: Live from the London Palladium, Milwaukee at Last!!!, a collection of Release the Stars commentary and live performances, All I Want and Prima Donna: The Making of an Opera. House of Rufus contains approximately thirty unreleased or "hard-to-find" tracks.[11] The collection is encased in a "red velvet-covered 90-page hardback book" featuring lyrics, photos, hand-drawn tour posters, art prints, and liner notes by Neil Tennant, Linda Thompson, Lenny Waronker, Martha Wainwright and Rufus himself.[2][20] Wainwright dedicated the box set to publicist Barbara Charone, "without whom it wouldn't have been possible".[21][22]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
BBC Music Positive[23]
The Daily Telegraph 4/5 stars[6]
Evening Standard 3/5 stars[24]
The Irish Times 4/5 stars[7]

Critical reception of the box set was mostly positive, though some reviewers questioned the necessity for such an elaborate collection, especially given Wainwright's age, and the higher-than-expected price. Will Hodgkinson of The Times wrote that a box set for Wainwright, whom he described as a "not yet middle-aged artist", was unnecessary, but that the collection "shine[s] a spotlight on its creator's rare, remarkable songwriting".[25] Hodgkinson called Wainwright and the box set "charming" overall, but thought the "excess of material stops the great moments from really shining out".[25] Hive magazine contributor Luke Hannaford complimented Rufus and Loudon's performance of Richard Thompson's "Down Where the Drunkards Roll", which he described as "achingly beautiful" and was recorded specifically for this collection.[26] Martin Aston's review for BBC Music was positive; in addition to other tracks, Aston complimented "Get Out of Town" (Cole Porter, 1938) and "Sweet Repose", both demos he considered to be "unreleased stunners that betray [Wainwright's] show tune soul".[23]

Though she noted the higher-than-expected cost of the box set, Helen Brown of The Daily Telegraph wrote that it served as an "impressive array" that showcased Wainwright's range and hard work.[6] Evening Standard contributor David Smyth wrote that "this luxurious treasure chest will be too deep for almost anyone apart from its creator". Smyth found the Rufus Family and Friends album to be "most charming", specifically "What'll I Do" which features the whole Wainwright family.[24] Brian Boyd of The Irish Times considered the box set to be "sensory overload" and thought the quality of the previously unreleased material appearing on the studio albums varied, but called the collection "magnificent... from a delightfully unorthodox and consistently engaging performer".[7] Boyd also noted the cost of the box set but complimented the quality of its packaging and "extras".[7]

Track listing[edit]

Studio albums
Live albums
DVDs
Box set albums

(*) designates previously unreleased material
Track listings adapted from Allmusic,[27] Hive magazine and Universal Music.[26][28][29]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lake, Kirk (2010). There Will Be Rainbows: A Biography of Rufus Wainwright. HarperCollins. p. 70. Retrieved August 14, 2011. The comments in the text refer to Rufus Wainwright/Songs, a privately produced demo tape recorded in 1995 by Pierre Marchand. This cassette demo is often referred to as "The DreamWorks Demos", although of course they were recorded before a deal with that label had been made... 
  2. ^ a b c d e "House Of Rufus Box Set Details Announced, Presale On Now". www.rufuswainwright.com. April 11, 2011. Retrieved April 12, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c Oliveira, Michael (March 28, 2011). "Rufus Wainwright 'overwhelmed with happiness and joy' since birth of daughter". The Canadian Press. Retrieved April 12, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Rufus Wainwright: News". www.rufuswainwright.com. March 21, 2011. Retrieved March 21, 2011. 
  5. ^ "House of Rufus on the market". Sydney Star Observer (Sydney, Australia: Gay and Lesbian Community Publishing Limited). July 29, 2011. Retrieved August 12, 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c Brown, Helen (July 14, 2011). "Rufus Wainwright: House of Rufus, CD review". The Daily Telegraph (London, United Kingdom: Telegraph Media Group). Retrieved August 12, 2011. 
  7. ^ a b c d Boyd, Brian (July 15, 2011). "Rufus Wainwright: House of Rufus". The Irish Times (Dublin, Ireland). Retrieved August 14, 2011. 
  8. ^ a b c Thompson, Warwick (July 18, 2011). "Rufus Wainwright Mauls Garland, Gets Upstaged by Sister: Review". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved August 13, 2011. 
  9. ^ Forde, Eamonn (June 15, 2011). "Rufus Wainwright creates YouTube treasure hunt". Music Week. ISSN 0265-1548. Retrieved August 12, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Rufus Wainwright marks boxset release with YouTube treasure hunt". Complete Music Update. June 16, 2011. Retrieved August 15, 2011. 
  11. ^ a b c Troussé, Stephen. "Album Review: Rufus Wainwright – House of Rufus". Uncut (IPC Media). Retrieved August 13, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Rufus' box set". Sydney Star Observer (Sydney, Australia: Gay and Lesbian Community Publishing Limited). April 24, 2011. Retrieved April 27, 2011. 
  13. ^ a b "Rufus Wainwright – 5 nights of velvet, glamour and guilt". Royal Opera House. 2010. Retrieved December 17, 2012. 
  14. ^ Empire, Kitty (July 24, 2011). "Rufus Wainwright and Loudon Wainwright III – review". The Guardian (London, United Kingdom: Guardian Media Group). Retrieved August 13, 2011. 
  15. ^ Price, Simon (July 24, 2011). "Rufus Wainwright and Loudon Wainwright III, Royal Opera House, London / John Grant, 100 Club, London". The Independent (London, United Kingdom: Independent Print Limited). Retrieved August 13, 2011. 
  16. ^ "Rufus Wainwright announces London residency for July – ticket details". NME (IPC Media). April 18, 2011. Retrieved April 27, 2011. 
  17. ^ Sweeting, Adam (July 22, 2011). "Rufus & Loudon Wainwright, Royal Opera House, review". The Daily Telegraph (London, United Kingdom: Telegraph Media Group). Retrieved August 15, 2011. 
  18. ^ Grundy, Luke (July 21, 2011). "Rufus & Martha Wainwright, Royal Opera House, London". The Independent (London, United Kingdom: Independent Print Limited). Retrieved August 15, 2011. 
  19. ^ Adams, Sean (July 14, 2011). "House of Rufus – Boxset Introduction by Rufus Wainwright". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved August 12, 2011. 
  20. ^ Perpetua, Matthew (April 21, 2011). "Digest: Morrissey Is Finalizing His Memoir; Dave Matthews Band Announce Caravan Festival Sites". Rolling Stone (Jann Wenner). Retrieved May 4, 2011. 
  21. ^ House of Rufus (Media notes). Rufus Wainwright. Universal Music Group. 2011. 
  22. ^ "Rufus Wainwright: Living the high life". The Independent (London, United Kingdom: Independent Print Limited). May 16, 2004. Retrieved August 16, 2011. Neil Tennant passed Wainwright's album to his friend Barbara Charone, the UK publicist for, among others, Madonna and REM. According to Wainwright, it is Charone who "demanded" the re-promotion of Want One. 
  23. ^ a b Aston, Martin (July 20, 2011). "Rufus Wainwright: House of Rufus Review". BBC Music. Retrieved August 14, 2011. 
  24. ^ a b Smyth, David (July 19, 2011). "CDs of the week: Rufus Wainwright and LMFAO". Evening Standard (London, United Kingdom). Retrieved July 19, 2011. 
  25. ^ a b Hodgkinson, Will (July 15, 2011). "Rufus Wainwright: rare, remarkable songwriting". The Times (News Corporation). 
  26. ^ a b Hannaford, Luke (June 8, 2011). "Rufus Wainwright // Tracklisting For House of Rufus Boxset". Hive. Retrieved August 12, 2011. 
  27. ^ "House of Rufus". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved August 12, 2011. 
  28. ^ Allmusic sources for studio albums, live albums and DVDs in chronological order:
  29. ^ "Rufus Wainwright: House of Rufus Box Set". Universal Music Group. Retrieved August 15, 2011. 

External links[edit]