Sun Ra, Space Is The Place (Original Soundtrack)

Michael Shore

By Michael Shore

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Space Is The Place (Original Soundtrack)

Sun Ra

The fully restored soundtrack to a jaw-dropping Super Fly-meets-The Seventh Seal Sun Ra movie (a must-see recently released on DVD) is a scintillating cross-section of early '70s Ra, when rock cred via shout-outs by Michigan proto-punkers the MC5 led to some historic Ann Arbor Blues & Jazz Fest bookings. Ra began staging "cosmo-drama" pageants (complete with light shows) of blazing full-band fanfares, high-energy "outside" horn blowing, dense Afro-percussive workouts, Ra sermonizing over band vamps between theatrical organ and Moog solos (his metallic, dentist-drill-from-outer-space approach infinitely more attuned to the then-new synth's true sonic potential than anyone else's at the time; he also beat Rick Wakeman to the caped-multi-keyboard thing), and a new emphasis on disarmingly catchy vocal numbers. Ra hired four singer-dancers, the "Space Ethnic Voices," including June Tyson, a striking vocalist who shines here, hitting an intense peak on the spiritual "Blackman."