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Old 03-12-2011, 07:40 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by OccultHawk View Post
One of the great things about Sun Ra is what a fantastic conventional jazz musician he was when he wanted to be. It makes his deep stretches into the avant garde more meaningful. That cat knew what he was doing!
True, but with that said, this album felt like a commercial stretch. Almost ever album he does has some element of traditional jazz on it in order to ease the listener in. This album, however, had nothing much for the listener to be eased into.

Even the conventional end of it isn't his best when it comes to his conventional stuff. Not a knock on Sun Ra, but you have to remember I'm trying to grade these albums in relative to each other, and I'm 100% sure since this is one of the few not released on his label that he was either censored, or self censoring on this one.
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Old 03-13-2011, 05:02 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Skaligojurah View Post
True, but with that said, this album felt like a commercial stretch. Almost ever album he does has some element of traditional jazz on it in order to ease the listener in. This album, however, had nothing much for the listener to be eased into.

Even the conventional end of it isn't his best when it comes to his conventional stuff. Not a knock on Sun Ra, but you have to remember I'm trying to grade these albums in relative to each other, and I'm 100% sure since this is one of the few not released on his label that he was either censored, or self censoring on this one.

Fair enough. I've never even heard that record so I just mean in general that's one of the things I like about him.
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Old 03-13-2011, 11:59 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Sun Ra and his Solar Arkestra Visits Planet Earth
1958 (released 1966)



Tracks

1. Reflections In Blue
2. Two Tones
3. Viktor
4. Saturn
5. Planet Earth
6. Eve
7. Overtones of China
8. Onward
9. Somewhere in Space
10. Interplanetary Music
11. Interstellar Low Ways
12. Space Loneliness
13. Space Aura
14. Rocket Number Nine

Ok, so I made the assumption that Sun Song was somewhat self censored. After reading that this album was the original intended recording sessions, I realize there was no other possibility. You know what? It shows big time with this album. THIS is a Ra album. A beautiful work of art from beginning to end. No complaints about it's traditional start(or middle for original release) as it's still very characteristically tight. Sun Ra by far is one of the most melodic Jazz musicians I've ever heard(he studied, and was influenced by classical masters extremely heavily, maybe it's the Chopin. Whatever it is, it allows him to shine to true expression in mellow pieces). Not only that but that Sun Ra eccentricity really shows on some tracks. Viktor is a brilliant abstraction of Jazz that I would never in a million years expect from somebody like Thelonious Monk, or Miles Davis. 150% Ra as it's almost all low horns, and timpani.

The musicianship is brilliant, and the eclecticism is there. Some of these are even rerecordings of the albums before I've been having problems with, but even then, they're top notch far surpassing the ones before. His band is perfectly in synchronization, and all the individualistic compositional traits are there. This one is a classic, and a true avant-jazz masterpiece. Not to the pure heights of Ra, but pretty ****ing close, if you ask me.

9.5/10

Highlights:

Viktor, Rocket Number Nine, Reflections in Blue, Interstellar Low-ways(Probably the best song on this album). With that said, a solid album from beginning to end:



(not completely the same, but still good)



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Old 03-14-2011, 09:49 PM   #14 (permalink)
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The Nubians of Plutonia aka The Lady With Gold Stockings
also 1958 (released 1966)



Tracks

1. Plutonian Nights
2. Golden Lady
3. Star Time
4. Nubia
5. Africa
6. Watusi
7. Aiethopia

Another very impressive album. Probably the least conventional thus far. A lot of experimental drumming, and a lot more focus than "Visits Planet Earth". Would I say it's better? Naw, I really liked the Eclecticism on Visits Planet Earth. Albeit, this is a much better focused, and recorded grouping of songs. Even if the songs themselves, I don't believe are as good.

By as good, I don't want to give the impression this isn't a damn good album. Because, frankly, it is. From a recording point of view, it seems a lot cleaner, and more balanced than the ones that precede it. Tons of strange percussion, low trumpet, non-jazz traits. Also, it's very well paced. The songs near the end are the best songs on the album, and the first is an ear catcher. A good dramatic motion.

Best song, imo, is Watusi which I've heard for the first time. I think is just a really fast, quirky, little song. Nubia is amazing with it's prolonged drum solo, and Aiethopia(which I believe is also titled Ancient Aetheopia on later albums) is an amazing song which combines all of the traits that make Sun Ra genius.



Another brilliant release.

9/10
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Old 03-16-2011, 12:53 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Jazz in Silhouette
also 1959



Tracks

1. Enlightenment
2. Saturn
3. Velvet
4. Ancient Aiethopia
5. Hours After
6. Horoscope
7. Images
8. Blues at Midnight

This is one that's not too unfamiliar to me, since it was always on collection of one of my favorite Ra albums, and there's a reason. Not that it's too out there, in fact it's one of the more conventional ones. Yet, with that said, in terms of conventional albums, apparently this one has always been on the cutting edge. Expressing a lot of the core values that would later become of the 60s-70s free jazz, and fusion eras. Personally, I'm not the best one to ask what exactly from a technical/historical level the accuracy of this statement is. However, I can confirm 100% that Jazz in Silhouette is a indispensable portion of the Sun Ra discography, and along with Lanquidity, an essential referential album to refer a curious/entry level fan to.

One of the absolute best Ra albums ever, and really a benchmark in terms of setting the bar up for at least the technical level of Sun Ra's band. Tons of solos, and such. The actual quality of instrumentation is up, and this is probably a peak moment for any band that he's assembled. Don't expect as much avant-garde but regardless, this is a fantastic indispensable piece of music. Proof enough that Sun Ra wasn't just only about out there experiments, and gimmicks. As OccultHawk said, that cat knew what he was doing.

Complete classic. Best song is the revamped Ancient Aiethopia which is a significantly better version than on the album just before this.

10/10
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Old 03-16-2011, 09:26 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Sound Sun Pleasure
1959 released in 1970



Tracks

1. 'Round Midnight
2. You Never Told Me That You Care
3. Hour of Parting
4. Back In Your Backyard
5. Enlightenment
6. I could have Dance All Night

Well, this was recorded alongside Jazz in Silhouette, and not released for years afterwards. I get the feeling from listening to it that it really wasn't intended to be released at all. Very dull for a Ra Album especially considering the last three I reviewed were all fantastic(then again if this were 1959 only one of them would have been actually released yet). Seems to me just like a bunch of b-sides thrown together.

First four songs were eh... Enlightenment was a good version but we've already heard that one. I could have Dance All Night is strangely the only bizarre one on here, and it's bizarre even by Ra standards. In fact, it utilizes a lot of ambient scifi tones that I imagine would logically come from the 50s(and one of the most drunk sounding trumpets I've ever heard in my life), but still seem very 'ahead'. Probably the high point of this album which is far too mundane for me to give that good of a score.

5/10

Edit: You know what, I Could Dance All Night is very interesting. In fact, probably notable for Sun Ra's first extended ambient track at 17 minutes, and it's nowhere NEAR the ones he'd become trademark for. I'll bump this album up one for it. 6/10
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Old 03-17-2011, 03:25 AM   #17 (permalink)
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First four songs were eh
Do you think you might be low-balling 'Round Midnight?
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Old 03-17-2011, 05:47 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Do you think you might be low-balling 'Round Midnight?
This particular version, only.
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Terence Hill, as recently confirmed during an interview to an Italian TV talk-show, was offered the role but rejected it because he considered it "too violent". Dustin Hoffman and John Travolta declined the role for the same reason. When Al Pacino was considered for the role of John Rambo, he turned it down when his request that Rambo be more of a madman was rejected.
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Old 03-17-2011, 06:27 AM   #19 (permalink)
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This particular version, only.
Is it the vocals?
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Old 03-17-2011, 09:19 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Is it the vocals?
Nothing particularly wrong with it, it's just average. After listening to three really amazing albums it just kind of hit me that way.
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