Strut follow up their hugely successful Marshall Allen-curated ‘In The Orbit Of Ra’ compilation with a newly curated set from the immense 125 LP back catalogue of jazz maverick, DIY philosopher and self-professed member of an “angel race”, Sun Ra. ‘To Those Of Earth... And Other Worlds’ is a hand-picked selection from BBC 6 Music DJ Gilles Peterson, long-time champion of Ra’s music and the UK’s leading tastemaker for jazz-based sounds. It serves as perhaps the best introduction yet to the music of Sun Ra for a whole new generation of converts. Sun Ra was a one-off in the annals of jazz. As author Robert L. Campbell describes, “He claimed to be the last of the swing band leaders, yet dosed classic songs with LSD. He wrote poetry about the “coming space age” and claimed to be a citizen of Saturn. He dressed himself and his band in goldlame and lectured on the Creator ’s message to the cruel and deceitful Earthman. He named himself after an Egyptian God. Was this guy for real? Sun Ra was very much for real.” For the CD version, Peterson picks personal favourites, classics and unreleased tracks and weaves them into a flowing piece across 2CDs, showcasing the incredible variety of Ra’s work. Alongside the familiar tones of ‘Love In Outer Space’, the modal classic ‘Sleeping Beauty ’ and a heavy version of ‘We Travel The Spaceways’, he brings in the off-kilter croon of ‘Dreaming’, a 45 given to him personally by the late John Peel, alongside an unreleased 1987 bossa take on ‘Astro Black’, the experimental dub ambience of ‘Adventure-Equation’ and the defiant anthem, ‘Blackman’. The 2LP features full length versions of selected tracks from the mix while the digital version features a full unmixed selection with Peterson’s mixavailable within the album bundle. Sleeve notes on physical formats come from Gilles Peterson with a full Ra career biography by author Robert L. Campbell. The album also features previously unseen photos from the archives of Val Wilmer and Jorg Brecker alongside full musician line-ups and session details.
Strut present the definitive collection of singles released by Sun Ra across his illustrious career, spanning 1952 to 1991. Released prolifically during the 1950s and more sporadically thereafter, primarily on the Saturn label, the 45s offer one-off meteorites from Ras prolific cosmic journey, tracing the development of his forwardthinking Space-Bop and his unique take on jazz and blues traditions. The collection is hugely varied, ranging from Ras spoken word recitations and his early work with Chicago vocal groups to the different phases of his Arkestra, small group and duet recordings. The singles are also unpredictable vehicles for Ras music, combining different tracks from different sessions and occasionally making available music which was recorded many years beforehand. As with his LPs, most 45s were only pressed in small runs and have since become extremely rare and sought after. Only a small handful of copies of Love In Outer Space b/w Mayan Temple and The Blue One b/w Orbitration In Blue have ever been seen; some have only been discovered in physical form in recent years; some were planned and pencilled but allegedly never made it to vinyl (including Saturn and Velvet from the Jazz In Silhouette LP) and some appeared as limited one-off magazine singles and posthumous releases, including Hell #1 aka Out There A Minute. The set is the most comprehensive collection of Ras singles to date. Sleeve note writers Francis Gooding and Paul Griffiths brilliantly illustrate the role of the single within Ras career and break down each release with detailed track by track notes. Working with Sun Ra LLC and Sun Ra archivist Michael D. Anderson, Strut has also assembled the best possible master sources for each track. Singles will be released in various formats across two release dates. All formats feature fully remastered tracks, rare photos, original 45 artwork, Francis Goodings extensive sleeve notes, an interview with Saturn Records founder Alton Abraham by John Corbett and detailed track by track and session notes by Paul Griffiths.
"Sun Ra said he came from Saturn, because white America treated him like an alien, like a creature from outer space, so he became one, an anarcho-emperor of the fantastic, who made it to the moon before America or Russia, because the moon was nowhere near as far out as he could really go." - Paul Morley Strut and Art Yard join forces for a special release to mark what would have been Sun Ra's 100th birthday with 'In The Orbit Of Ra', a new collection curated by the longest serving member of the Arkestra and current bandleader, Marshall Allen. Bringing together Ra highights from over 25 years of music, the album is the first internationally released compilation to provide an introduction to the music of Sun Ra, curated personally by the Arkestra and mastered from the original tapes. With a catalogue of well over a hundred albums, Sun Ra forged his own direction in music from the mid '50s until his passing in 1993, injecting space age cosmic philosophy, ancient Egyptian history and lyrical poetry into a unique and freeform jazz sound. His music evolved constantly with relentless rehearsals, live gigging and recording schedules, developing a second-sense chemistry with his fellow Arkestra band members. Together, their emphasis would often be on improvisation and "the moment", constantly re-interpreting and evolving their sound. Elements of magic and ritual would regularly feature in their performances and would lend the Arkestra a mystical aura. As Sun Ra himself said, "I have many names; some call me Mr. Ra, others call me Mr. Re. You can call me Mr. Mystery." For this exclusive new collection, Strut join forces with Artyard to gain access to the inner sanctum of the Arkestra. In addition to the track selection, the release features recollections and contributions from some of the core Arkestra line-up including Marshall Allen, Michael Ray, Knoel Scott and Danny Ray Thompson. For the music, Allen's selection takes us through the huge variety and intricacy of the Arkestra's work covering the '60s to early '80s, from the celestial blues of 'Spontaneous Simplicity' and 'Plutonian Nights' to the urgent jazz of 'Rocket Number Nine Take Off For Planet Venus' and 'Dance Of The Cosmo Aliens'. The album features an exclusive previously unreleased Sun Ra track from the Art Yard archives, theacoustic 'Trying To Put The Blame On Me' recorded live in Rome in 1977, along with a previously unreleased Part 1 of 'Reflects Motion' from 1962 and an unheard extended version of 'Island In The Sun' from the late '60s. 'In The Orbit Of Ra' is released on 2CD, 2LP and digital formats. Physical formats feature full interview with Marshall Allen along with rare and previously unpublished photos by Val Wilmer.
Aloha Got Soul’ encompasses a vibrant era of contemporary music made in Hawai’i during the 1970s to the mid-1980s as jazz, rock, funk, disco and R&B co-existed alongside Hawaiian folk music. Check!Hawai’i’s identity had undergone huge change: statehood into America in ‘59 and the Vietnam War were the backdrop as Hawai’i’s youth found inspiration in a new wave of international music led initially by The Beatles and Stones and, later, by US R&B bands like Earth Wind & Fire and Tower Of Power. Garage bands flourished during the ‘60s and, by the ‘70s, live music was at its peak. Waikiki was filled with clubs: The Point After, Infinity’s, Hawaiian Hut, Spats and more. For the ‘70s generation of artists, some came through the talent contest ‘Home Grown’ and its accompanying compilation LP. Singer Nohelani Cypriano won it with her instant radio hit, ‘Lihue’. Other winning songs, like Marvin Franklin’s soul surfer jam ‘Kona Winds’, burned more slowly but have endured with DJs today. Many records also packed a powerful message. In 1978, Hawaiian was made the official state language and a huge movement arose to revive hula and traditional music. Steve & Teresa’s ‘Kaho’olawe Song’ longs for an island long gone: the US military had used Kaho’olawe as a bombing range since Pearl Harbor. Nohelani Cypriano sang about the once sleepy town of Kailua, now a popular tourist destination: “Kailua needs no high-rise with her blue skies, not for our eyes. Can you realize?” Leading Hawaiian artists like Aura, Mike Lundy and keyboardist Kirk Thompson’s Lemuria took time in high quality facilities like Broad Recording Studio to make albums. Others grabbed studio time when they could: Tender Leaf’s Murray Compoc worked for the city bus by day and recorded an album during night sessions. Other albums were spontaneous. In 1983, Steve Maii & Teresa Bright recorded an acoustic set in just 3 hours after being invited to a studio following a gig. For the artists of the ‘70s, the climate for music changed rapidly during the mid-‘80s as DJ culture grew and live venues shut down. Hawai’i’s R&B era shone brightly and relatively briefly but, despite brilliant musicians, regular gigs and LP releases, most of the music barely made it to the mainland. Thanks largely to Aloha Got Soul’s Roger Bong, a new interest in this fertile era of Hawaiian music has grown, culminating in this new compilation of overlooked gems. ‘Aloha Got Soul’ is compiled and annotated by Bong and features rare photos and original artwork.
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Strut repress one of the all-time classic compilations of Afro-funk and Afrobeat for 2016, the first volume of the mighty Nigeria 70 series. Originally released in 2001, the album followed the death of Fela Kuti and a renewed interest in original Afrobeat among younger club-goers. Put together over a three-week trip to Lagos, it documented for the first time the explosive era when domestic bands fused traditional highlife and juju with funk, soul, rock and disco. Alongside two cuts by Fela Kuti, Nigeria 70 shone the spotlight on the incredible musicianship of artists like Segun Bucknor, Joni Haastrup and his Monomono band, Orlando Julius, saxophonist Peter King, “Guitar Boy” Victor Uwaifo, Lijadu Sisters and quirky keyboard wizard William Onyeabor among many others. Spread over 3LPs, the original edition also included a one-hour audio documentary featuring exclusive interviews with many original musicians and industry figures from the ‘70s scene, narrated by Wunmi. As well as being a valuable document of an under-rated era, Nigeria 70 was one of the first crossover albums to dig deep into the African music archives and effectively market the music to a new online audience hungry for rare grooves and unique dancefloor sounds. Since Nigeria 70, this market has widened hugely with labels like Soundway, Analog Africa and Hot Casa all working tirelessly to document rare African beats. This new pressing of the Nigeria 70 3LP set is limited to 500 copies and features the full CD version and CD audio documentary as a bonus within the package. Full artwork is also featured including John Armstrong’s extensive sleeve note history alongside rare photos.
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Joseph Abajian (DJ Jab) founded Fat Beats in 1994 with nothing more than a shoestring budget and an earnest obsession with the music, the culture, and the brotherhood of New York’s burgeoning rap scene. What began as a simple vinyl shop in Manhattan’s Lower East Side quickly became an integral hub for artists, both aspiring and established, to convene and collaborate on new projects. Joseph’s timing couldn’t have been more impeccable. When the 90’s cultural zeitgeist – and, in turn, the music industry establishment – chose hip-hop as its new arbiter of cool.
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