What is your first thought when someone mentions The Sun Ra Arkestra? Surely, it is the unique psychedelic sound of their music. The same thought comes to mind when talking about other music icons, such as George Clinton, Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart. Yes, their styles differ, but what they have in common is the psychedelic sound of their music.
We have selected our favourite recordings by these music icons for this week’s Tuesday Tunes.
The Sun Ra Arkestra was established in 1956 in Chicago, by Herman Boole Blount (Sun Ra). It is a vibrant musical anomaly, which creates music outside of conventional styles, and is influenced by the futuristic unknown. The founder’s influences drew from science fiction, cosmology and futuristic concepts, maybe due to the fact he came from Saturn.
In 1993, Sun Ra passed away, but the band still performs today, inspiring listeners and contemporary performers all over the world. Marshall Allen, who keeps the Arkestra active, is now aged 92, and has been a part of it since 1957. He has said he tries to use this music to keep my body and mind cool, and it seems to be working – the Arkestra still practices three times a week, and has performances led by him. The band now consists of 15-20 people, including a few dancers, who bring the performances to live.
George Clinton is at the age of 75, with more than 60 years on stage, numerous albums and performances. He is currently touring the US, and preparing a new Parliament album, which is to come out in April.
He was born in North Carolina, and so southern heritage has a big influence on his work to this day. It is not a secret that George Clinton revolutionised R&B during the 70s, and then turned soul music into funk. In this doing, he was influenced by several 60s acid heroes: Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa and Sly Stone.
Two artists, who are not amongst us anymore, but keep inspiring present day musicians are Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart. Both born in the early 40s, these two legends’s stars sill shine bright to this day. Their experimental, psychedelic approach to music remains a major influence on composers and musicians. Zappa has been named one of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time, and Van Vliet has been described as one of modern music’s true innovators.
The two worked together since their teenage years, and can be heard in each other’s individual work. Their friendship went through ups and downs, but Zappa finished many of his concerts with their song “Muffin Man”. Their collaborations and can be found in collections such as The Lost Episodes from 1996 and Mystery Disc from the same year.