Spin (1/97, p.82) - 8 (out of 10) - "...too uneven to provide the ideal introduction to Ra's omniverse...it's still a treasure trove of mischief, and an inspiring way of mapping the many rings of wound visited by America's most intrepid astral traveler..."
Down Beat (1/97, p.44) - 4.5 Stars - (out of 5) - "Prepare yourself: This is one of the major archival projects of the decade....this excursion into Ra's extensive and virtually unkown work as a producer of seven-inch, 45-rpm singles lets listeners in on several heretofore shrouded zones in his seemingly boundless musical omniverse..."
Option (11-12/97, p.132) - "...lots of beautifully bizarre nuggets....offbeat even by Sun Ra standards, this is not the place to start for Sun Ra neophytes. But for hardcore fans, how can you get along without it?"
Musician (2/97, p.122) - "...equal parts big band swing, blues, R&B, performance art, black vaudeville, twentieth-century harmony and Afrocentric rythm-n-ning, animated by a folksy vision of the cosmos and a generous dollop of hokum..."
Personnel includes: Sun "Mr. V" Ra (keyboards); Danny Davis, Marshall Allen, John Gilmore, Pat Patrick (vocals, saxophones); Lacy Gibson (vocals, guitar); Yochanan, Roland Williams, Calvin Barron, Juanita Rogers, Lynn Hollings, Little Mack, David Henderson, James Jacson, Sam Bankhead, June Tyson (vocals); Bobby Fields, Danny Ray Thompson, Mickey Boss, James Spaulding (saxophones); Art Hoyle, Lucious Randolph, Michael Ray, Walter Strictland, Phil Cohran (trumpet); Julian Priester, Tyrone Hill (trombone); Buddy Guy (guitar); Ronnie Boykins, Richard Evans, Wilburn Green, Stafford James (bass); Clifford Jarvis, Robert Barry, Jon Hardy, Luqman Ali (drums); Jim Herndon, Tito (percussion); The Nu Sounds, The Cosmic Rays, The Qualities.
Compilation producer: Jerry Gordon.
Principally recorded in Chicago, Illinois and New York, New York. Includes liner notes by Michael Shore, Robert Pruter, Robert L. Campbell & John F. Szwed.
Personnel: Sun Ra (electric guitar, piano, celesta, electric piano, harmonium, Clavinet, organ, synthesizer, mini-Moog synthesizer); Lacy Gibson (vocals, electric guitar); Danny Davis (vocals, flute, alto clarinet, alto saxophone, congas); Marshall Allen (vocals, oboe, alto saxophone); John Gilmore (vocals, tenor saxophone, drums, percussion); Pat Patrick (vocals, baritone saxophone, percussion); Jothan Callins (vocals, trumpet, flugelhorn); James Jacson (vocals, percussion); June Tyson, Davy Henderson , Calvin Barron, Sam Bankhead, Roland Williams, Juanita Rogers, Little Mack, Lynn Hollings, Sun Ra Arkestra, Yochanan (vocals); Sam Fan Thomas (electric guitar); James Spaulding (alto saxophone); Bobby Fields (tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone); Mickey Boss (tenor saxophone); Danny Thompson (baritone saxophone); Earl Turner, Walter Strickland, Fred Adams , Lucious Randolph, Wayne Harris, Michael Ray , Arthur Hoyle, Ahk Tal Ebah (trumpet); Julian Priester, Tyrone Hill, Ali Hassan (trombone); Wilburn Green (electric bass); Clifford Jarvis, Robert Barry (drums, percussion); Luqman Ali, Crumar Mainman, Jon Hardy , William "Bugs" Cochran , Alvin Fielder, C. Scoby Stroman (drums); Stanley Morgan (congas); Jim Herndon, James Herndon (timbales, timpani).
Liner Note Authors: Robert L. Campbell; Robert Pruter; Michael Shore; John F. Szwed.
Recording information: Club Evergreen, Chicago, IL (1954-1982); New York, NY (1954-1982); Philadelphia, PA (1954-1982); RCA Victor Studios, Chicago, IL (1954-1982); Rome, Italy (1954-1982); Sun Studios, New York, NY (1954-1982); Variety Sound Studio, New York, NY (1954-1982).
Photographers: Luigi Zanon; Spencer Weston; Alan Nahigian; Gregory Gerran; Tommy Hunter; R. Andrew Lepley.
Unknown Contributor Roles: Alan Edwards ; The Nu-Sounds; Sun Ra.
Arranger: Sun Ra.
THE SINGLES, a collection of self-released 45s spanning his entire career, will undoubtedly raise anyone's esteem of the legendary band leader. Aside from putting out his own records long before artist-run labels became de rigeur, living and dressing by his own celestially-inspired code (later adopted as George Clinton's funk mythology), and claiming he was from Saturn, the former Sonny Blount had a voracious musical appetite that consumed nearly every post-war style. So while he was mostly renowned for a swinging mixture of suave Ellingtonian grooves and Ornette's freedom-enhanced modernism, THE SINGLES shows off the sizzling R&B, small-group lounge jazz, glorious doo-wop and straight-up Chicago blues sides of Ra's resume.
THE SINGLES also includes tracks where Ra's credited only as pianist, arranger, composer, etc. Recorded under a handful of witty sci-fi-related pseudonyms, these don't just capture Ra's diverse repertoire; they highlight his ability to naturally glide amongst seemingly incompatible moods, between the punkish, juke-joint R&B of a "space age" blues jumper named Yochahan, the street-corner serenade of Ra's vocal arrangements of Gershwin tunes for The Nu Sounds, and The Arkestra's patented South Side swing. These singles make up a secret history of one of jazz' giants--history well worth knowing.
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- A Black Mass (Baraka, Amiri)