Sun Ra & His Arkestra – Somewhere Over the Rainbow (Beyond Saturn) (1977/2021)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 41:31 minutes | 567 MB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Enterplanetary Koncepts
As live, late-1970s Sun Ra albums go, Somewhere Over the Rainbow is a cut above. It’s similar to and contemporaneous with The Soul Vibrations of Man and Taking a Chance on Chances, two live sets also issued on Saturn in 1977 (and available in our remastered digital catalog).
Tape was not available, but we worked from a solidly transferred, clean 1977 Saturn LP (catalog #7877). As with many limited-release Saturn pressings, Somewhere Over the Rainbow offers exciting performances and solos preserved with dollar-store acoustics. Audio restoration can’t add what the gear didn’t capture—e.g., you can’t “remix” the balance of instruments recorded with ad hoc mic placement—but these tracks here benefit from digital cleanup and sonic improvements (including phase correction, an issue with a number of Saturn releases).
This expanded Beyond Saturn edition includes two bonus tracks sourced from a stray tape from the original live 1977 dates. These tracks are not previously unreleased—they were previously and deliberately “misfiled” by the artist. That is, they were included on the A-side of a 1985 Saturn LP whose other content was unrelated.
The original 1977 release alternates four Sun Ra originals with three Tin Pan Alley favorites. It was during the 1970s that Ra began peppering his sets with Big Band-era standards, especially titles originally recorded by his heroes Fletcher Henderson and Duke Ellington. However, “Gone With the Wind,” “Over the Rainbow,” and “Take the ‘A’ Train” recur frequently in the career-spanning Ra discography.
Also of interest in this set is “I’ll Wait for You,” whose throbbing disco pulse prefigures the dance floor stylings pursued by Ra on his later albums Lanquidity, On Jupiter, and Sleeping Beauty.
The performances were recorded at the Bluebird in Bloomington, Indiana. The discographic Earthly Recordings of Sun Ra (by Robert Campbell and Christopher Trent, 2nd ed. 2000) notes: “Michael Weiss says that the Arkestra played two nights at the Bluebird; each night consisted of two 3-hour sets. He recalls that ‘the band paraded around playing “Lights on a Satellite” like on the Montreux album’. [Two] dancers were identified from two local newspaper accounts. These articles say there were 18 people in the band, and imply the presence of Pat Patrick and Vincent Chancey, plus a possible third drummer—none of them audible on these tracks. Weiss, however, is sure that Patrick and Chancey were not present.”
The two bonus tracks, “Outer Reach Intensity-Energy” and “Cosmos Rendezvous,” were first issued by Sun Ra on the 1985 LP known as Stars That Shine Darkly Vol. 2, and alternately called Outer Reach Intensity-Energy. There was no identifying information included with the release—typical of Ra during the 1980s, it was issued in a generic sleeve which may or may not have been adorned with hand-art and no info except track titles on the label. However, Michael D. Anderson of the Sun Ra Music Archive found these tracks on a tape associated with the Bluebird dates.
1. We Live to Be (04:47)
2. Gone with the Wind (02:47)
3. Make Another Mistake (03:43)
4. Take the ‘A’ Train (11:21)
5. Amen Amen (Amen, Meni, Many Amens) (07:36)
6. Over the Rainbow (07:33)
7. I’ll Wait for You (03:34)
8. Outer Reach Intensity-Energy (bonus track) (03:54)
9. Cosmos Rendezvous (bonus track) (04:19)