Sunday, December 16, 2012

2nd Chance: Sun Ra - Outer Spaceways Incorporated (1968) - Calling Planet Earth Box CD 1

In 1971, Sun Ra sold a stash of tapes to Alan Bates of the German label, Black Lion, who shortly thereafter issued this album under the title, Pictures of Infinity. A 1994 CD reissue added a previously unreleased bonus track (“Intergalactic Motion”) and all cuts were again reissued in 1998 on the three-CD box set, Calling Planet Earth (Freedom 7612), but there the album is stupidly re-titled Outer Spaceways Incorporated. I say stupidly because a 1974 album originally titled Outer Spaceways Incorporated (Saturn 14300A+B) was also re-issued in the same box set and inexplicably re-titled Spaceways, thereby creating all kinds of unnecessary discographical confusion. Be that as it may, this album (whatever its title) is drawn from an excellent stereo recording of a live performance in New York City circa. 1968 and provides a rare, hi-fi glimpse of the newly evolving “cosmo drama.”

The Arkestra declaims, “Somewhere There!” and immediately blasts off into full-blown, New Thing-styled energy music, Gilmore taking the lead with an astonishingly fleet tenor solo. Unfortunately, a good half of the track’s fifteen minute duration is taken up with more pointless drum solos by Clifford Jarvis and his hyperactive bass-drum pedal. When the Arkestra finally interjects some aimless space chords and free-jazz squealing and honking, it all seems a bit anticlimactic. Maybe you just had to be there. “Outer Space Incorporated” [sic] opens with some rubato free improv until Ra introduces the bouncy chord progression, taken at a bright tempo. The Arkestra chants the words in increasingly dissonant harmony before brief, quiet solos from piano and bass. The free rubato section returns with braying horns, busy percussion, and cacophonous piano before quickly fading out to modest applause. “Intergalactic Motion,” whose correct title is actually “Ankhnaton,” is a jaunty big-band number that dates back to the 1960 album, Fate in a Pleasant Mood (Saturn 202/Evidence ECD 22068). The composition alternates a hugely catchy riff with a swinging bridge section. Bernard Pettaway and Ali Hassan dominate with dueling trombone solos before giving way to Ra’s nimble piano, where he explores the nooks and crannies of odd harmonic inversions. Boykins and Jarvis provide a solid foundation of joyous swing and Boykins eventually takes over with a typically virtuosic bass solo before the horns return for a ragged reprise to end.

130. [114]  Sun Ra

Pictures of Infinity /
Outer Spaceways Incorporated [sic]

Sun Ra (p.); Marshall Allen (fl); Clifford Jarvis (d); poss. John Gilmore (d); James Jacson (log drums); Nimrod Hunt (hand drums); poss. Pat Patrick (perc); pos. Danny Davis (perc).

New York City, prob. 1967

          Spontaneous Simplicity

Black Lion 30103, an LP titled Pictures of Infinity, was released in 1971.  It was rereleased in 1994 on CD as Black Lion BLCD 760191, foolishly retitled Outer Spaceways Incorporated.  This CD was reissued in April 1998 under the same misleading title (Freedom CD 741085, part of the three-CD set Calling Planet Earth on Freedom 7612).  This track sounds as though it comes from a different live concert than the rest of the LP -- and special credit is given to Saturn Records for this track on the Black Lion jacket.  James Jacson confirms that not all of this LP came from the same concert, or even the same year (Black Lion gives 1968 as the date for all tracks).  Personnel identified by rlc.

"Spontaneous Simplicity" also appears on Black Lion Jam Session, a two-LP set released in West Germany in 1973 (Intercord 28 431-5 Z/1-2).

Spontaneous Simplicity

147. [130]  Sun Ra

Pictures of Infinity /
Outer Spaceways Incorporated [sic]

Sun Ra (p.); Bernard Pettaway (tb); Ali Hassan (tb); Marshall Allen (as, fl, picc, perc, voc); Danny Davis (as, fl, acl, perc, voc); poss. Danny Ray Thompson (as, perc); John Gilmore (ts, perc, voc); Robert Cummings (bcl, perc); Pat Patrick (bars, fl, perc, voc); Ronnie Boykins (b, voc); Clifford Jarvis (d); unidentified (d); Nimrod Hunt [Carl S. Malone] (hand drums); James Jacson (log drums).

Live, New York City, prob. 1968

          Somewhere There (Ra) [ens voc]
          Outer Spaceways Incorporated (Ra) [ens voc]
          Intergalactic Motion [Ankhnaton] (Ra)
          Saturn (Ra)
          Song of the Sparer (Ra)

Black Lion 30103, Pictures of Infinity, was released in 1971.  All tracks also on Black Lion 28421, Freedom 127015, and Polydor 2460106.  All of the original tracks were also reissued in Japan on Black Lion 32JDB-216 [CD, 1992].  "Intergalactic Motion" is included as a bonus track on Black Lion BLCD760191, issued in 1994, with the incredibly confusing title Outer Spaceways Incorporated.  The CD with bonus track reappeared in April 1998 under the same incorrect title (Freedom 741085) in a three-CD set titled Calling Planet Earth (Freedom 7612).

Intergalactic Motion

All five tracks sound as though they came from the same live concert.  The personnel list provided by Black Lion is generic -- it includes two trumpet players even though none are present, and three trombonists (one of them Teddy Nance, who died in 1967).  The second trap drummer is not mentioned.  The presence of Pettaway means that these tracks were recorded before the move to Philadelphia in Fall 1968.  Personnel identified by rlc, using the Black Lion list as a guide.
from The Earthly Recordings 2nd ed. Campbell/Trent

Outer Spaceways Incorporated (Freedom 741085)
(Pictures of Infinity)

1. Somewhere There   15:03
2. Outer Spaceways Incorporated   7:09
3. Intergalactic Motion*   9:01
4. Saturn   6:15
5. Song Of The Sparer   4:11
6. Spontaneous Simplicity   7:57





  1. Many thanks, Yotte!



  2. Very nice yotte & very much appreciated. This I consider to be my musical Christmas present. Thank you & to you a very Merry Christmas.

  3. thanks for the nice follow-on to your previous posting!


  4. I just realized... the RS links that I posted were for 'Spaceways' rather than 'Outerspaceways Inc.' The HF links were correct.

    I've updated the RS links to the proper files so if you grabbed RS before now, you have a preview of the next post!

    Sheesh! Talk about discographical confusion! Seems like I had trouble when I posted this set the first time. Amazing.

  5. > I just realized...

    :-) i was listening to the music and reading the blog notes - was i ever confused! :-)


  6. I can't thank you enough for this stuff. You and Ra have made my last months on this planet bearable. Hope you continue re-upping...