w. craghead : h : t : i

SUN RA SPRING

listening to all 110 Sun Ra albums on Bandcamp

drawing while listening, writing about them all

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #59: Sun Ra Visits Planet Earth

Great, fast jazz, with some amazing playing (flutes, horns, drums, piano). Late 50s so “in” jazz, but some nutty things too.

The star of this is the drums/percussion. Wild kettle drums bouncing. Sometimes “exotic” rhythms which totally change the song. Normal and great.

8/10

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #58: Secrets of the Sun

Early-60s and pretty crazy, lots of nuts percussion, apparently from the horn players! Rough mix, described as “garage jazz.” Feels ALIVE.

GREAT and wild. Weird hollering, beautiful delicate playing mixed with whoops and bangs. I love it.

9/10

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #57: Aurora Borealis

Short and beautiful solo piano, which takes some adjusting to after the space insanity. Still wild, just one-person wild.

The last two tracks are “Over The Rainbow” and “Love in Outer Space” both with studio/performance noise that makes them feel real and present. Really good.

9/10

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #56: Space is the Place

WOW
The title track - 21 MINUTES LONG! - is the best Sun Ra I have heard yet. Crazy, brilliant, a supernova. Singing and chants with wild playing and layers of sound.

This whole album is amazing. Bits of in-jazz and then beautiful, perfect noise. Highly recommended.

10/10

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #55: Sun Ra at Inter - Media Arts, 1991

Many of these are live recordings, but this one really feels like a whole concert. A huge wide range of songs!

This was made when Ra was old and not doing great health-wise, but he still kicks ass playing. Weird synths, electronic drums, singing, chants, in and out of jazz. GREAT. It ends with sing-along and Ra playing!

9/10

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #54: Cosmos (Remastered)

Another cool cross-section - starts with normal jazz, gets weird. Some chants, singing the same things over and over for power.

I like when I hear Ra on the recording talking to the musicians, there’s a tiny bit at the end of a song on this.

8/10

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #53: We Travel the Spaceways

More music from when he was still doing “normal” jazz” but was adding in all sorts of space lyrics and titles. A cool solo then a chant about space!

From 1956-1961 and you can hear that changes that would so super crazy later. Wonderful playing and delightful to hear.

8/10

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #52: Space Age Rhythm & Bop (The 1950s)

I was expecting more of the “in” jazz sound, and this album is “in” but is also weird and charming.

Old mid-50s recordings with various groups, doo-wop and big band and pop. Really fun and wonderful. SUN RA ALWAYS SURPRISES

9/10

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #51: Nuclear War (EP)

Awesome single for Nuclear War. A studio version and a live one - both punk badass and terrifying.

Apparently Yo La Tengo has done multiple versions of this song? So great to hear Ra’s voice with June Tyson crushing it. BURNT TREES BOILING SEAS BURNT GRASS so mad, so good.

10/10

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #50: Discipline 27 - II (Remastered)

This is the best distillation of later Ra I have heard yet. Beautiful playing, super nutty, GREAT. You should hear it!

The last song https://sunramusic.bandcamp.com/track/discipline-27-ii-parts-1-4 is all of Ra in one - sound with a call and response cosmic message from Ra. “You call this life?” Highly HIGHLY recommended.

10/10

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #49: Strange Celestial Road

LOVE THIS this one is amazing. Guitar, June Tyson singing, a wonderful and crazy thing. SO GOOD

After a few straight “in” jazz ones this is wild and “out” and I love it. Highly recommended.

10/10

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #48: Blues at Midnight: A John Gilmore Anthology, Vol. 2

More straight jazz from early Ra times. It took me forever to listen to this because I kept restarting it. It’s good but I’m realizing I like the nutty stuff more.

This “album” is a compilation from a bunch of different Sun Ra releases that feature Gilmore, but even so it holds together because it’s all from the same time period. Good entry to Arkestra noise.

7/10

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #47: Kosmos In Blue: A John Gilmore Anthology, Vol. 1

Great early Arkestra featuring Gilmore on sax. Straight “in” jazz (like the last several ones I’ve listened to). Good!

I like these releases that are compilations of one player’s work with Ra, you get cross-section of time. Pretty good to my untrained ears.

7/10

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #46: St. Louis Blues

More solo Ra on an acoustic piano. It’s wonderful hearing him play these “regular” songs. There’s a person there (a space-person! but a person)

My fave here is “Three Little Words” which is weird and beautiful and good

8/10

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #45: Solo Piano, Vol. 1

Solo Ra on an acoustic piano, a reminder that he is really good. Not super-exciting but good to listen to.

It’s interesting to hear him alone on this. They lived kind of communally and practiced literally all the time together so playing these must have felt weird to him.

7/10

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #44: Omniverse

More “inside” jazz, recorded in the late 70s. It feels weirdly calm in places. Really good.

This release was another weird cobbled together recording of live stuff, like a zine collection. Cool crazy drums. ALWAYS GOOD IS SUN RA

8/10

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #43: Celestial Love

An odd album only in that it is “inside” jazz but was recorded late in Sun Ra’s career. Really good, I like these as extra to the super-spaceness.

Listening to the more out there stuff (“outside jazz”) one might forget the whole squad were incredible musicians who could play anything.

7/10

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #42: Angels & Demons at Play

Good jazz from the late 50s, so just hints of the cool craziness to come. Not long and good to listen to.

One track stands out: Wild strings, exploratory. Feels like space, I love it.

7/10 (that song 10/10)

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #41: The Nubians of Plutonia

“Regular” jazz, really good with “exotic” drums and percussion. I”m starting to know when in Ra’s career albums are - this seems late 50s to me. (I checked - I’m right!)

Another version of Aiethopia which I love. This album would ba a good way to trick people into listening to Sun Ra as is it more normal, then you can smack them with late-60s super-space explosions.

8/10

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #40: Of Abstract Dreams

GREAT this one is really REALLY good. Recorded at a radio station. Free, tight, zany.

PLEASE go listen to “Unmask The Batman” which is so beautifully nutty. Call and response space-jazz about Batman

https://sunramusic.bandcamp.com/track/im-gonna-unmask-the-batman

10/10

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #39: Supersonic Jazz

From 1956, more well-done jazz that sounds like jazz with a few hints of the Ra to come. Tympani, some weird clanks and sounds.

Over and over I hear how Ra and the whole band were GOOD, they could play anything, so when they choose later to go crazy it’s a choice. A good one! LOL

7/10

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #38: Egypt Strut / Dawn (EP)

Short but REALLY GREAT, Ra and squad with Egyptian jazz pioneer Salah Ragab

Just good Ra music, jazz with some surprises. Drums, pyramids, palm trees. Ra draws a line from the Nile to the Milky Way.

10/10

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #37: The Stranger: A Radio Play

A RADIO PLAY WITH ARKESTRA BACKING MUSIC! wow I did not expect this. A straight-up weird radio play that has nothing to do with space or Sun Ra.

It’s cool to hear Ra’s music behind this story though it is just a tiny bit. Story is ok, odd rhyming and a unsettling. One actor seems to be reading it for the first time!

3/10 no need to hear again

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #36: Of Mythic Worlds

Good live playing, some regular blues/jazz and then some space-insanity.

The last track is a revelation - hollering and hooting and chanting and it sounds like they are moving into the audience who joins in. Just wonderful.

8/10

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #35: Discipline 99 (Out Beyond the Kingdom Of)

YES Ra hollering that the world ended 3,000 years ago, June Tyson and Akh Tal Ebah backing him up. Songs in and out of jazz.

Cobbled from some audience tapes, sound cleaned up - I like that Ra has all these ramshackle crazy recordings. “Come on and take a journey/to SATURN”

9/10

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #34: Pictures of Infinity

“The Wind Speaks (a.k.a. Somebody Else’s World)” LOL the best titles. Good sound here, “inside” the jazz world, but not always.

I’ve only been listening to Sun Ra so this weirdness seems super-normal to me. My brain has changed. Also, BADASS drum solo on the last track.

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #33: Sun Ra with Pharoah Sanders & Black Harold

Beautiful and really weird. Sanders is great. Weird flutes, strings, hollering, laughing, I don’t know what. The best chaos.

Black Harold drums all over the place (he gave himself a bunch of names like Black Francis). Also poop on Anchorman for making fun of jazz flute it is WILD

9/10

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #32: Sun Ra Plays Gershwin

The most “regular” jazz standard songs I’ve heard so far from Ra. Good versions of songs you know like “Nice Work If You Can Get It“

Really well done but not the space-cosmos I have come to love in his music.

7/10

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #31: Fate in a Pleasant Mood

Really great - well-played “normal” jazz but you can hear it getting nutty at the edges. Weird exotica, space is starting.

Song titles like “The Other in Their World” and “Kingdom of Thunder.” Good entrance to the UFO, a launchpad.

8/10

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #30: The Other Side of the Sun

More “normal” songs. Wild jazz is normal to me after hearing this much Sun Ra! Really cool version of “Space is the Place” on this.

This is a good intro for people to RA-WORLD "The impossible is the watchword of the greater Space Age. The Space Age cannot be avoided and the SPACE MUSIC is the key to understanding the meaning of the IMPOSSIBLE and every other enigma." — Sun Ra

8/10

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #29: Solo Piano at WKCR, 1977

Ra alone on a regular piano, like the other solo keyboards it’s good. He can play anything.

Apparently he would frequently show up at a student-run radio station in NY and play on the air. “Morse code rhythms and brittle, uneasy silences.” - Roger Coleman

7/10

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #28: Art Forms of Dimensions Tomorrow

Right from the start super nutty. Weird drums, SOUNDS. Then a “normal” song, like to prove they know what they are doing.

More great song titles: “Solar Drums,” “Ankh #1,” “Lights on a Satellite” The regular songs have tension because I know at any moment they could go all space crazy.

8/10

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #27: Astro Black

Listened to this while drawing things. I really liked it, lots of surprising sound + June Tyson singing = The Best

A really wonderful mix of music and sounds. One instrument sounds like a vacuum cleaner! More playing alongside each other but still perfectly together. Not very long, but perfect.

9/10 will buy CD!

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #26: Space is the Place: Music for the Film

Music they made to play in the film but not a soundtrack. Just cool music they used in the movie. Great solid Ra + Ark sound.

Listening in my car and a train goes by and mixes up with the drum and hollering horns.

8/10

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #25: Taking a Chance on Chances

A shorter “lost” album with some regular songs on it along with space-power. There’s a really great solo keyboard “Over The Rainbow”

This was kind of a zine record like a lot of them - tiny run of records made, weird different packaging, not great recording (that I like because it feels like you’re at the show)

7/10

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #24: The Cymbals/Symbols Sessions

Another solid collection. Smaller squad here but still tons of weird space-wandering.

Seemingly chaotic things are also right where they should be. Startling. Weird long chords with everyone going, then tiny staccato plucks. A music-mind.

8/10 will listen again

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #23: Crystal Spears

More amazing. They play ALONGSIDE each other but still together. Sometimes they come together, or all the instruments drop out but one.

“Crystal Spears”=alongside craziness “The Eternal Sphynx”=playing together (but still on their own). Trust and power. There’s a lesson for me for drawing there. Also Ra the best at song titles.

9/10 I seem to love everything they do

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #22: Pathways to Unknown Worlds

Another great collection. The Arkestra plays together but also can play alongside and both are great.

New electronic synths and old drums etc. ALWAYS WEIRD SURPRISES I also keep hearing the new noise stuff I like, it’s in this too.

9/10 will listen again

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #21: The Solar-Myth Approach, Vol. 2

This one is even better than Vol 1 which was great. Another version of Ancient Ethiopia which I love. Surprises all the time. Long synth solos that should be boring but are NOT.

It is as old as me but sounds so contemporary - synth and rock noise, Sonic Youth, Lightning Bolt, instagram synth grinders - they all have an ancestor here. Wild and chaotic but also working and fitting. FREE. Just amazing.

10/10 I love it

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #20: The Solar-Myth Approach, Vol. 1

Stuff from all over put together by a defunct arty French label. A DIY/zine feel to this stuff, like punk 7” records Great and weird music. Weird honks.

One track title: REALM OF LIGHTNING A horn sounds like an owl-purr. Not sure what is happening, so I like it. Some wildness all over it.

9/10 will def listen again

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #19: Jazz in Silhouette

Good early 50s Ra + squad. Just the beginning of craziness. “Ancient Aiethopia” is really great.

From liner notes: "In tomorrow's world, men will not need artificial instruments such as jets and space ships. In the world of tomorrow, the new man will 'think' the place he wants to go, then his mind will take him there."

8/10 will listen again

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #18: The Spirit of Jazz Cosmos Arkestra at WUHY, 1978

A show at a Philly radio station. The intro is hilarious: a calm & serious NPR-like host talking RA.

This is a great listen - some big bandy “normal” songs plus lots of songs with vocals and a couple short talks by Sun Ra. He says a few things about a jazz arranger and then THE COSMOS. So great.

9/10 will listen again 2/2

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #17: Solo Keyboards, Minnesota 1978

Ra alone on keyboards, piano and crazy synth. I thought after all the gang loudness this would not be exciting, but it is.

Behind all the other stuff Ra is a constant surprise and delight to hear play. He will do extended synth space sounds and then “Over The Rainbow.” Amazing.

8/10 will listen again

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #16: Sun Ra Exotica

The weirdest one yet because it’s NOT weird. “Exotica” with Latin beats. Drums, congas with flutes, piano, bass. Unlike other Ra music, I’ve heard stuff like this before - tiki, lounge, 50s nightclub music. Done very well, really good.

Sun Ra

Occasionally some future space dust leaks in; small hollers, weird chants. But there’s no dissonance, no space-chords, no noise. Still, he is Sun Ra: there’s a song “Cha-Cha in Outer Space”!

Really fun, I danced around to it. Long, lots of songs. Shows how he chose to be crazy later because he could lead a band and play “regular” music wonderfully.

9/10 will listen again

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #15: Nuits de la Fondation Maeght Vol. 2

Same concert as the previous album, REALLY great show. Classic Sun Ra. Beautiful chaos.

Listening to these both are like being at a concert. The best song titles: “Friendly Galaxy No. 2” “Sky” I love this dude.

8/10 will listen again

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #14: Nuits de la Fondation Maeght Vol. 1

A concert in France with some funny stories in the liner notes. Sun Ra kept insisting he was from Saturn at the customs checkpoint!

Good solid Arkestra show, pt 1 of 2. A quote from John Szwed: “...saxophonists began to battle like samurai, then came together like brothers…” LOL Cool cover of Ra commanding his Moog.

8/10 Will listen again

Sun Ra

Sun Ra


Sun Ra Spring #13: My Brother the Wind Vol. 1 (1969)

Moog synth with Arkestra space-noise. As always, just almost falling apart but not.

Sun Ra

Cool to hear Ra all over the Moog, luring new sounds out of it. Sound as space travel. Noise to stars. I think there’s a real lineage from Ra to the electronic noise musicians today. Beep boops.

Sun Ra

This music is constant surprises. Songs sound like they are going to end but then become solo synth scrambles, then everyone comes back in. There’s three versions of “The Perfect Man” which is like a “regular” song, everyone matched up tempo-wise. Great.

Sun Ra

SPACE PROBE SPACE PROBE SPACE PROBE

Sun Ra

The track that destroyed me was “Space Probe,” almost 18 minutes of synth battle, layers of electronic noise that sounds like it’s from Space Saver or any contemporary noise-synth lightning strike.

<

“Space Probe” changes and wanders, like moving across a map or through nebulae and space and light and dust. This is the sound of Jack Kirby’s cosmos. Absolutely magnificent. I bought the CD because of this track.

10/10 will listen over and over

p>Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #12: Monorails and Satellites Vols. 1, 2 and 3 (late ‘60s)

Solo Ra on piano, just his own tricks and fire. Unusually intimate, I’m in the UFO./p>

Like being inside his head, a world of sound. Hard to listen at first, but you learn to hear it. Teeters like a high-wire walker. All kinds of music welded to make a spaceship.

7/10 will prob listen again

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #11: Egypt 1971

I listened to this as I drove all over central Virginia to get a covid vaccine.

Sun Ra

I saw mountains and cows and I got out and walked by the Shenandoah River and saw a duck family. I also saw a Dukes of Hazzard museum and a fake dinosaur. Horses, flowering trees.

Sun Ra

I bought this at a local store right before driving all over. 4 CDs, all from performances in Egypt in 1971 when I was a baby. I had to drive to Luray, Va to get the shot, where there are huge caves and a stalactite organ in a cavern so Sun Ra and the Arkestra was perfect.

Sun Ra

The day after I got the vaccine I had a high fever. I was scared to listen to Sun Ra because I was already pretty loopy but it was just right as I was already in space inside my hot brain.

Sun Ra

This is a weird noisy sound. Very good and fun. I really am ready for Sun Ra from listening to weird beep boops and playing with synths. His “Nidhamu” is on a Moog which he hammers and it ends up sounding like my Bitranger! I love it.

Sun Ra

Sometimes it’s like ambient music, works both with close or casual listening. Giant crazy noises but they know how to do it so it still FITS and WORKS. I’m sunk deep into this now. I really like it.

9/10 will listen again, glad I bought the CD

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #10: Pleiades: A Jazz Symphonique (1990)

Unusual (so far) because there are classical musicians added to the Arkestra. Strings all over! Weird mix too. Mostly sounds more “normal” than other stuff.

Still good with a few weird parts. Highlight: “Planet Earth Day” Like a crazy marching band song.

7/10 will listen again, “Planet Earth Day” is 10/10

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #9: June Tyson: Saturnian Queen of the Sun Ra Arkestra

Beautiful. June Tyson sings so well, she is magic. I love everything on this album.

Lots of words, more than I’m used to in this stuff. Instead of lyrics about love like in other songs it’s all about space. “MAGIC IS THE FUTURE” A mix of all different times/phases of Arkestra music.

Sun Ra

A bunch of songs about asteroids and space-mythology with magic sounds, then a perfect PERFECT version of a standard like “Smile.” “The Moors” with uncharacteristic quiet and instructions about mic placement from Ra!

10/10 will listen again FOR SURE

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #8: The Magic City

WOW. The best one yet. A wild masterpiece. Out of control but just right. I WAS IN SPACE and in a city.

MAGIC CITY Kettle drums, flute, oboe?, squawks, bangs, thumps, everything else.

This one is why people love Sun Ra. It’s weird but I loved it.
10/10 will listen again, I bought the CD

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #7: God Is More Than Love Can Ever Be (1979?)

Right on the edge of falling apart, amazing. Sometimes no one holds things together they are all flying around.

Then sometimes a “regular” song or soft lyrical piano bits slammed with hard dissonant chords right after. Samarai Celestial on drums is all over everywhere. Another zine album, xeroxed liner notes, seed tossed into wind.

10/10 will listen again.

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #6: We Travel the SpacewaysA Fireside Chat with Lucifer (1983)

“Nuclear war (nuclear war)
Fire (fire)
Melting (melting)
People (people)
Buildings (Buildings)
Burnt grass (burnt grass)”

Burnt Grass?!?!? Yes. Badass call-&-response punk jazz. Title track is like a soundtrack for a psychic battle movie.

8/10 will listen again, esp “Nuclear War”

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #5: Lanquidity

Great funk with space-dust. Songs with beats and grooves but then weird bits. I love hearing kettle-drums. Supposedly more “pop” than other albums but so what it rocks

A song called There Are Other Worlds (They Have Not Told You Of)! COME ON! With whispers. TOTAL SPACE POWER

9/10 will listen again for sure

Sun Ra
Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #4: Sun Ra Spring #4: Haverford College 1980 Solo Piano

Just him playing electric piano. Not easy to get through but still cool. A 24-minute vibraphone solo (by his pal Walt Dickerson)!

A weird peace in the spareness. He is good at piano. Songs + noise. Over The Rainbow!

5/10 ok to not hear again

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #3: Unity: Live at Storyville NYC Oct 1977

I guess more “normal” music? Still crazy. Like a band from older times but still with bits of space-crystals

Sometimes spacemen pretend to be merely human (while still kicking ass). Longest one yet, like a whole show. Some great weird sounds inside “normal” music.

7/10 will listen again

Sun Ra

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #2: When Angels Speak of Love (1966)

Sounds like space for REAL
Jazz but kind of falling apart in a good mess
Cool tape stuff and reverb
Piano just wandering all over

Another #zine album, 150 copies made

I’m so prepped to like this stuff from all the beep boop synth stuff I play with and like to listen to

8/10 will listen again

Sun Ra
Sun Ra Spring #1: On Jupiter

Some “norm” awesome jazz/funk with bits of great noisy magic
Gems in the earth
Space dust on moss Weird flowers
UFO just kicks ASS
Drew while listening

Also this album is a zine

A GOOD START TO SUNRASPRING