Music is human. And here, King of Bongo will show you the best music available on the internet. What you will find: a vibrant source of sounds and vibes, grooves and noise, some you will never have heard before. Are you ready to go on the journey?

Friday, May 19, 2006

Session 13: If they push that button, you can kiss your ass goodbye

Pic: Fusion Anomaly
Sun Ra
To be in the music business for 60 years would be a life's work, but for Sun Ra it was a late-blossoming career move. After all, he had arrived on Earth in the year 1055 at the latest, and only moved into music just before 1932. Early in this career Sun Ra made a conscious decision to play to largely Black audiences. This may have been due to competition from Fess Whatley, who monopolized the White market in Alabama, where Sun Ra had been based since 1935.

Already a subtly different person, members of Sun Ra's band would recall his many journeys through several blocks White neighbourhoods, dressed in sandals and his tunic, to get to the music store to copy the sheet music for the latest hits.

Briefly imprisoned for objecting to being drafted in 1942, Sun Ra eventually gained his release on a physical disability: a hernia. Possibly the only alien hernia ever recorded in earthly medical history. However, his reputation in Alabama was now rock bottom.

1946 saw our hero move first to Nashville, where he cut his first disc, 'Dig This Boogie,' and then on to the big lights: Chicago. Here he spent a while in the undistinguished settings of seedy strip joints, where local enlightened mob bosses demanded that Black musicians play behind a curtain.

His past and the injustices he'd seen and experienced weighed heavily on this soul man. This period, possibly the lowest point of his existence, engendered in Sun Ra a time of introspection; even depression. His journey took him through the observation of spiritual things, the occult, Biblical interpretation, and the examination of racism and inhumanity.

In 1950, he began a period of rebirth. He launched the Space Trio, and became involved with Alton Abraham, member of an unusual Black Nationalism group that preached the importance of Space to Black men. Abraham went on to become manager of Sun Ra's Arkestra and head of his record label, but many rmember him being handy in pistol-whipping situations. In 1952 the rebirth was complete - Sun Ra (Le Sony'r Ra) was born.

Future King of Bongo blog entries will move the Sun Ra story on from here, but right now we're going to skip 30 years into the future. 1981, Philadelphia. Sun Ra, aged 66 Earth-years, worried by political tensions, Ronald Reagan entering the White House and his subsequent shooting in March, and the general raising of nuclear rhetoric (which would result in inconclusive talks between the US and the then-Soviet Union in November), writes a surefire hit - in his mind: Nuclear War.

An epic track, Nuclear War is Sun Ra's plea for humanity to think about what they were doing when considering the use of nuclear weapons. Driven to profanity for the first time in his recording career, Sun Ra chants

"Nuclear war, nuclear war, they're talking about nuclear war. It's a motherfucker, don't you know"

Rejected (almost predictably) by the Columbia label, Sun Ra had the track independently released, and thus condemned to obscurity. A real shame, as the song gets into your mind, and the incessant chanting paradoxically becomes an eloquent protest against the possible apocalypse. After all, if they push that button, your ass is gonna go. And what you gonna do without your ass?

Ladies and Gentlemen, King of Bongo proudly presents:
Sun Ra: Nuclear War (1981) [mp3 | 7:47 mins | 192 kbps | 7.13 MB]

Sun Ra: Nuclear War Buy "Nuclear War" by Sun Ra from Amazon
File under: Apocalypse Profane
[Click on the link and you’ll be taken to yousendit where you can download the track. First come first served people, only 7 days and/or 25 downloads allowed!]


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