Tag Archives: sun ra


Quite An Afternoon for the Birthday Boy

Hail Atlantis: Zoom, Zoom, Up In The Sky…

Lots of fun space vernacular floating around the launch of the shuttle this morning. Jason Crane, Jazz Session kingpin and good guy, started tweeting Ra references. Let’s keep it going. Here’s are a few records/songs to click you into the mindset of the man who once told me that he was “the head of all the arts in France, and the inventor of punk rock.” Yes, space is the place.

The Universe Sent Me 

“Prepare For the Journey To Other Worlds”

“Space Aura”

“Earth Primitive Earth”

“Friendly Galaxy” 

Fun Ra: Five Quick Quotes from the Birthday Boy

Almost forgot about Sunny’s birthday yesterday. Destination Out has dropped some nice rarities. Best head over there, and absorb ’em. I traveled with Mr. Blount in the late ’80s, swooping through the South and spending time in New England, too. Here are a few tidbits from our chats. You don’t have to pay those taxes on the wind, the planet is doomed anyway. 

“Many players have come through my band, and I don’t like to babysit. A few I’ve had to, though. They might be good, but they need to be refined – learn what not to play. There are a lot of voodoo rhythms out there, and some of them are deadly. Or if they go outside a club with a whiskey bottle in their hands, I have to watch that because that’s not good for a long life. If they can stand the fire, they can stay with me. But sometimes the fire falls, and when it does, it’s worse than Satan.”

“Most of the time the avant garde looks so serious. They don’t look like they’re really having fun. People don’t want to see that. I want people to laugh at the costumes we have one. Why do astronauts wear what they wear? Why do soldiers? Because it makes people notice them more. The musicians have a perfect right to join the crowd and say, “We’re going to wear this. This is how we feel.'”

“On tour I stay active in my room 24 hours a day, and I’ve got my DX7 by my bed most of the time. I’m still interested in different sound effects. I’ve got about 700 of them now. The way you play must fit the song, though. It’s like speaking in a foreign language; if you pick the wrong sound, most people won’t understand you.”

“The next thing I do will shake up the whole planet. When I get back to Philadelphia, I’m going to a lawyer and have him prepare eviction papers for everybody on this planet. I’ll take it to the White House and say, “If you can’t handle the anarchists and the terrorists and you aren’t capable of taking care of the property of the creator of the universe, then we’ll take over. The Earth belongs to someone, but that someone is not m-a-n. People might pray to the lord, but it’s the landlord who will evict them. He’s never spoken before, but now he’s saying ‘You haven’t paid no taxes on the wind and no taxes on the sun.’ The world is getting ready to change over.”

“Right now we’re rehearsing “S’Wonderful” – that’s a beautiful word. Or we might do “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever,” because that’s a nice sentiment. But we arrange these onto another palette. The melodies are going to be there, but the harmonies will be celestial, and the polyrhythms will be fantastic.”



If you find Earth boring, the same old same thing, sign up with Outer Spaceways.

It’s After the End of the World

Beyond The Purple Star Zone

Of Heavenly Things

Outer Nothingness

The Universe Sent Me

Celestial Realms


“A lot of black people don’t know they’re black.” Ra rattles on during a Berkeley lecture. 

Record Store Day: My 10 Most Memorable Buys

Spent my first allowance on 45s. Got a paper route to feed my album habit. Worked at a record store in high school and college. Ran a record store after graduation. Kept on grabbing up records. Bought one last week. I’m pro-digital, but something about this situation creates sadness. Last year these titles came to mind. This year? This year you should walk into a record store on Saturday and plop down some green. Here are ten purchases that remain vivid in my mind. What are yours?

1. Four By The Beach Boys (Capitol) – Hathaway’s Music (East Greenwich, RI)

“Little Honda” sounded great, but “Hushabye” sounded better. All hail Doc Pomus.

2. Moby Grape, “8:05/Mister Blues” (Columbia) – Main Music (East Greenwich RI)

In a marketing stunt, the label simultaneously released five singles from the classic and cursed San Francisco band. I bought only one. Why oh why did I not buy them all?

3. MC5, Kick Out The Jams (Elektra) – Warwick Shopper’s World (Warwick, RI)

Read about the insurrection aspects of their songs in Time or Newsweek. Purchased LP. Was amazed at the ass-kicking aspects of their songs in my bedroom. Wanted to be a revolutionary as well. Put my stereo speakers in my bedroom window, facing out. Blasted the “kick out the jams, motherfuckers” track at our neighbors.

4. The Byrds, Sweetheart of the Rodeo (Columbia) – K&M Records (Providence, RI)

Wasn’t going to buy it, but found a mispriced copy for 99 cents and couldn’t say no. Fell deep into country-rock hole from the first spin on. Playing “Blue Canadian Rockies” as I write this.

5. Thelonious Monk, Underground (Columbia) – Midland Records (Warwick, RI)

Didn’t know shit about jazz, but after a mentor spun the album for me, the giddy bounce of “Boo Boo’s Birthday” became irresistible. Was wooed by the cover art as well.

6. Nick Lowe, Bowi (Radar) – Rhymes Records  (Providence, RI)

You remember the story. David Bowie released the wonderful Low. Wiseacre Nick took it as a reference to his own bad self, sans the “e” at the end. He then followed it up with a reference to DB that erased the “e” from his own title as well. Four songs, one instrumental. Still love “Born A Woman.”

7. minutemen, what makes a man start fires (SST) – Looney Tunes (Westerly, RI)

Read a Village Voice piece about the Pedro upstarts and their pithy approach – I wanna say Tom Carson wrote it. Anyway the power of the essay got me out of my apartment and down the highway to pick up the album. Not their best, but one of my faves.

8. Chico Freeman, Morning Prayer (Why Not/Japan) – SoHo Music Gallery (New York)

Saved up a bunch of loot, maybe $120, and was off to NYC to buy jazz. Purchased a few Black Saint discs in one shop, and grabbed this baby in another. Two separate bags. Was thrilled with my new records. Got out of the cab at the apartment I was staying in, and left the (quite costly import) Freeman disc in the back seat. Wah!

9. Sun Ra, “I’m Gonna Unmask the Batman” (El Saturn) – In Your Ear (Providence, RI)

The El Saturn 45s are somewhat rare, and when this fell into my lap, I felt lucky.

10. Jimmy Gilmer & the Fireballs, “Sugar Shack” (Dot) – Shop-O-Mat (East Greenwich, RI)

The finest group to ever bust outta Raton, New Mexico. First vinyl I ever bought with my own money.

Ra To The Rescue: Sound Can Wash Clothes

He played this piece in a NOLA schoolyard 20 some years ago and the place went bullshit. Glad we got to travel with him on that Southern swing. Train stations and hotels are the way to learn about people, especially idiosyncratic people. I’m thinking that if he was here today, on his birthday, he’d dedicate “Face the Music” to the company known as British Petroleum. Yes?

Thinking of John and June today, too.

I, Jukebox

Sun Ra, Disco 3000

Sun Ra, When Angels Speak of Love

Sun Ra, A Fireside Chat With Lucifer

Sun Ra, Sunrise In Different Dimensions

Sun Ra + Walt Dickerson, Visions (thanks to Bret)