Sun Ra – Space is the Place

Sun Ra – Space is the Place

Sun Ra – Space is the Place

0 comments 📅05 January 2015, 03:26

Space_Is_the_Place_video_coverSpace Is the Place is an 85-minute blaxploitation science fiction film made in 1972 and released in 1974.[1][2] It was directed by John Coney, written by Sun Ra and Joshua Smith, and features Sun Ra and his Arkestra. A soundtrack was released on Evidence Records. During the late-1960s and early-1970s, Sun Ra and his ensemble made several forays to California. In 1971, Sun Ra taught a course, “The Black Man in the Cosmos,” at University of California, Berkeley.[3] Over the course of these California visits, Sun Ra came to the attention of Jim Newman, who produced the film Space Is the Place starring Sun Ra and his Arkestra, and based, in part, on Sun Ra’s Berkeley lectures.[3] Sun Ra, who has been reported lost since his European tour in June 1969, lands on a new planet in outerspace with his crew “The Arkestra” and decides to settle African Americans on this planet. The medium of transportation he had chosen is music. He travels back in time and returns to the Chicago strip club where he used to play piano with the name “Sonny Ray” in 1943. There he confronts The Overseer (Ray Johnson), a pimp-overlord, and they agree on a duel at cards for the fate of the Black race. Each card drawn is a minor goal to achieve for Ra or The Overseer which will determine the winner of the duel. Then, to present time, Ra disembarks from his spaceship at Oakland and tries to spread his word by meeting with young Blacks at an Oakland youth centre and opening an “employment agency” to recruit people eager to move to the planet. He also agrees with Jimmy Fey (Christopher Brooks), the minion of The Overseer, to arrange radio interviews, a record album, and eventually a concert that will help him dictate his message. At the end, Ra takes Fey’s “Black parts” with him to the spaceship, leaving him with his White parts. Fey, now acting white, leaves The Overseer who loses the duel. The planet Earth is destroyed after Ra’s spaceship flies into space.  Ra’s greatest adversary in his quest is The Overseer, incarnation of evil in the Black community who poses himself to be a community leader and a man of charity. But in fact, he is the tool of the power structure. Ra is also pursued by White government agents (presumably from FBI) who attempt to assassinate him. On the other hand, Jimmy Fey is a representative of Black people in the entertainment industry and mass media.

space-is-the-place-soundtraSpace is the Place is an album by Sun Ra and His Intergalactic Solar Arkestra. The music was recorded in early 1972 in San Francisco, California for the film Space Is the Place.[2] However, the music remained unreleased until Evidence Music issued a compact disc in 1993.[2]  During the late-1960s and early-1970s, Sun Ra and his ensemble made several forays to California. In 1971, Sun Ra taught a course, “The Black Man in the Cosmos,” at University of California, Berkeley.[3] Over the course of these California visits, Sun Ra came to the attention of Jim Newman, who produced the film Space Is the Place starring Sun Ra and his Arkestra, and based, in part, on Sun Ra’s Berkeley lectures.[3] The soundtrack CD compiles 16 tracks that Sun Ra recorded for the film.  The Penguin Guide to Jazz describes the album as “a brisk montage of Arkestra music….[I]t works remarkably well and the playing is tight and enigmatic.”[3] The Penguin editors also note that “Mysterious Crystal” is of particular interest, with the track “combining a huge array of elements into something that simply cannot be characterized by reference to any other music.”[3] Ron Wynn of Allmusic describes the tracks as being “among Sun Ra’s most ambitious, unorthodox, and compelling compositions.”[4]

Track listing

All compositions and arrangements by Sun Ra.

  1. “It’s After the End of the World” – 3:25
  2. “Under Different Stars” – 3:55
  3. “Discipline 33” – 3:22
  4. “Watusa” – 7:11
  5. “Calling Planet Earth” – 3:04
  6. “I Am the Alter-Destiny” – 1:08
  7. “Satellites Are Spinning” – 2:33
  8. “Cosmic Forces” – 3:09
  9. “Outer Spaceways Incorporated”– 3:00
  10. “We Travel the Spaceways” – 2:28
  11. “The Overseer” – 3:04
  12. “Blackman/Love in Outer Space” – 16:53
  13. “Mysterious Crystal” – 5:53
  14. “I Am the Brother of the Wind” – 5:54
  15. “We’ll Wait for You” – 4:11
  16. “Space Is the Place” – 4:23

Personnel

Sun Ra – Space is the Place - overview
Rating

Summary: Space Is the Place is an 85-minute blaxploitation science fiction film made in 1972 and released in 1974. It was directed by John Coney, written by Sun Ra and Joshua Smith, and features Sun Ra and his Arkestra. A soundtrack was released on Evidence Records. During the late-1960s and early-1970s, Sun Ra and his ensemble made several forays to California.

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