Sun Ra

Nuclear War

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Along with Lanquidity, Nuclear War is one of the rarest discs in Sun Ra's enormous catalog. Recorded in 1982, Nuclear War disappeared until 2001 when the Chicago-based Atavistic label made it part of their exceptional "Unheard Music Series." Originally Ra was so sure the funky dance track was a hit, he immediately took it to Columbia Records, where they immediately rejected it. Why he thought a song with the repeating chant "Nuclear War, they're talking about Nuclear War/It's a motherf***er, don't you know/if they push that button, your ass gotta go/and whatcha gonna do without your ass" would be a hit is another puzzle in the Sun Ra myth. Even with the danceability factor, without heavy censoring, the song would never be played on the radio. Severely depressed by the rejection, but still determined, Ra licensed the track to Y Records, a post-punk label out of Britain. Initially a vinyl 12" was released with "Sometimes I'm Happy" on the flip side. Two years later, Nuclear War was released as an album, but only in Italy. The remaining tracks include four originals and three standards, Ellington's "Drop Me Off in Harlem," "Sometimes I'm Happy," and "Smile." The latter two are highlights in their own right thanks to the gorgeous vocals of June Tyson.

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