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Unlike other comments, I think this music is perfect for a Sun Ra fan, as I am, because as a true lover of his music, you have to let the man do what he wants and not pigeon-hole your own listening with your expectations. Expect that unexpected with this set, which is by turns charming, funny and bizarre, but always true and sincere. A must, a real must for any true Sun Ran fan.
The reason this isnt the place to start is although it is a singles compilation, which I still cannot believe they were able to compile considering how obscure a great deal of them are, but alot of what is on here is Sun Ra in a support role to another act. The other act being a Rhythm and Blues act with performances I have grown to love, even though they are not typical Sun Ra by any stretch of the imagination.
If you are a seasoned veteran of Sun Ra from any period the 50s, 60s,70s, 80s, buy this album and let it grow on you. If you are interested in Sun Ra and wonder where to start I would ask yourself Big Band?? or Free Jazz?? If the answer is just swing and a good time start with "Jazz in Silhouette". But if you want free jazz taken further than John Coltranes deepest dreams. Try "Atlantis" and the peek of the genre "Magic City".
Here's to the unmasking of the Batman.
All of this said, it likely is not the First thing someone should by, more likely the 5th or more. Start with The Futuristic Sounds, or Angels and Demons at Play or Outerspaceways INC, if you like wilder music. Most of his work is pretty hot in my book.
A) a Sun Ra fan of long standing, and
B) interested in where music really comes from, and not just the high points.
These recordings, some of them anyway, are odd even within Sun Ra's idiosyncratic world. Sun Ra is one of those jazz musicians who usually think in terms of the total composition, integrating a number of soloists into that framework. Jelly Roll Morton, Ellington, and, sometimes, Miles, Mingus & Monk work this way. Some of these "singles" are one-dimensional novelty numbers. Some are cute, like the "doo-wop" songs, e.g. "Dreaming". Valuable if you find this kind of music charming but otherwise wouldn't come in (voluntary) contact with it. Others are just raucous, like the Yochanan pieces, though even these have a kind of urban rustic charm, especially "Hot Skillet Mama". (The liner notes indicate that the fine tenor player John Gilmore called Yochanan, billed as the "space age vocalist" in the day, a "no-talent hanger-on" and swore he'd never recorded with him.)
Other pieces connect more directly with Sun Ra's oeuvre. Some, like "Saturn", are similar to more familiar recorded versions of the era or later. Many of these recordings are rough in comparison to Sun Ra's other work, with a rehearsal or impromptu feel, e.g. "Love in outer space" with June Tyson & John Gilmore singing. The liner notes are very good, placing the guy who said variously that he "came from nowhere here" or "Saturn" very firmly in the grimy contexts of Birmingham, Chicago and Philadelphia. Includes some interesting photos.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The collection of Sun Ra singles is a real labour of love. The doo-woop singles are amazing, meanwhile the swing singles are (like many swing pieces) quite boring.Published on March 3, 2013 by Claudio Parodi
I believe the enjoyment of this two disc set really depends on what your expectations are going into it, which is why I hope to clarify a few things with this review that have not... Read morePublished on June 6, 2011 by J. Bonder
Sun Ra's music is often traditional and radical at the same time and this compilation of all the known 45s put out by Sun Ra follows the simultaneous traditional/radical concept. Read morePublished on December 25, 2010 by Cosmic Music Fan
Sun Ra may be the outest of outliers in free jazz: can you argue my point about a guy named Herman who dressed in a turban and said he was from Saturn. Read morePublished on May 15, 2010 by Bill Your 'Free Form FM Print DJ
An aspect of Sun Ra's amazing career which spanned five decades was not chronicled well.....until this special release. Read morePublished on October 12, 2008 by Best Of All
I'm not really a jazz fan, but this wonderful collection of obscure singles is quite an enjoyable listening experience. Read morePublished on January 27, 2002 by Peter Uys
As much as I hate to give Sun Ra a bad review, I felt kind of ripped off after I got this. The first CD is all doo wop stuff that really didn't do it for me. Read morePublished on June 22, 2001 by dylan alford
I was so excited to listen to this 2CD group of recordings. It is sooo different from the rest of my collection of Sun Ra. Read morePublished on August 28, 2000 by macfawlty