Sun Ra

The Secret History of American Popular Music

This is going to be one of the musi­cal events of the year: start­ing at mid­night tonight, WKCR is hon­or­ing the cen­ten­nial of Sun Ra with non-stop music through May 25. What makes this so impor­tant is that Ra was both pro­lific and obscure, and there are bound to be record­ings from the archives that are(…)

The Man Machine

In the fall of 2009, Capitol/EMI issued a lav­ish and long-awaited box set, col­lect­ing the cat­a­logue of record­ings of one of the world’s most beloved, and most impor­tant, pop music groups. The music this group made was not only great in its own right but rev­o­lu­tion­ary and hugely influ­en­tial. Whole gen­res of pop­u­lar music of the last forty years are impos­si­ble to imag­ine, and would have been impos­si­ble to cre­ate, with­out the legacy of this band, arguably the great­est of all that came out of the rise of pop cul­ture and mass media. That band is, of course, Kraftwerk.

First, The Sound

(not for the faint of heart or ear) To quote the great David St. Hub­bins, “it’s such a fine line between stu­pid, and clever.” It’s also, in Amer­i­can cul­ture, a fine line between the estab­lished and the avant-garde. The paragon of this are Sun Ra’s sin­gles, which com­bine a sin­cere, straight-faced take on pop music with(…)

It’s Always Sonny in Philadelphia

Pre­pare thy minds for the con-fusion of the coin­ci­den­tal … I sat down to glance at the Times’ Week­end Arts sec­tion today, and just as I hap­pily dis­cov­ered a story about an exhibit ded­i­cated to Sun Ra, Out To Lunch started on WKCR, with today’s fea­ture of Rah­saan Roland Kirk. Between those book­ends is an(…)