By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
[1990 (1992) , Black Saint]
Sun Ra revisits the pop tunes and exotica of his youth 40 years later, and the ironic results constitute a well-recorded studio representation of the band's club and concert performances that tops any of those he recorded live.
[1954 1982 (1996 ), Evidence]
Singles? Boy howdy! No matter what they say, Sun Ra was no obscurantist, and this 20-year collection of incredibly rare doowop, r&b, blues, and outer-space recordings that he aimed at jukebox play are the proof. You may never listen to these two CDs a second time, but you'll never be the same, either.
Dud: Second Star to the Right: Salute to Walt Disney
[1989 (1995 ), Leo]
Invited to record "Pink Elephants on Parade" for a Disney tribute album called Stay Awake, Ra took the assign- ment seriously, bought a video of Dumbo (who he said he could relate to), and dove into the whole Disney songbook. Like the Ellington, Gershwin, and Fletcher Henderson he had previously explored, Disney's music was part of what he called his "shield of beauty" against the forces that would destroy earth. Maybe, but this live recording is heavy with what one could charitably call broad humor. With all that falsetto and basso profundo, the songs wear mouse ears, for sure. Only the cautionary lyrics of "The Forest of No Return" from Babes in Toyland seem worthy of Sun Ra's attention.