Strange Celestial Road

Strange Celestial Road

by Sun Ra


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Strange Celestial Road

The band Sun Ra had at the end of the '70s was surely the funkiest he ever had, with electric bassist Steve Clarke (in tandem with upright player Richard Williams) and the twin guitars of Taylor Richardson and Skeeter McFarland. This is the band that recorded the infamous On Jupiter album, and the slightly different band lineup for Sleeping Beauty (recorded just two weeks later) suggests that Strange Celestial Road was recorded between the two, based on the hybrid band lineup. "Celestial Road" kicks things off, where electric bass, arco bass and wah-wah guitar set the stage for a great June Tyson vocal and then solos from John Gilmore, Michael Ray, Sun Ra, and Damon Choice on vibes. "Say" has a great electric bassline and joyous horn charts, and swings mightily with a vaguely Latin rhythm. There's a fine electric guitar solo, as well as some more fantastic playing from Gilmore. Ra's keyboard sounds and soloing are particularly deranged on this album, but never get into the purely noisy realm. "I'll Wait for You" is the real treat of this album, featuring a great mellow groove and wonderful ensemble vocals led by the beautiful June Tyson. There's plenty of fine soloing on this track as well, but the main attraction is the mix by Ra and Michael Ray. There's a dub-like element to the way the instruments and voices are treated and mixed in and out, but this is dub by way of Saturn, and the mix is at least as weird and wonderful as anything Lee Perry has done. This is an overlooked album in an unwieldy discography, but it's a real gem and the fact that it's on the Rounder label should make it easier to find than many of the Arkestra's other albums. Recommended.

Product Details

Release Date: 10/25/1990
Label: Rounder / Umgd
UPC: 0011661303522
catalogNumber: 613035
Rank: 95352

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Sun Ra   Primary Artist,Keyboards
John Gilmore   Reeds,Multiple Reeds
Craig Harris   Trombone
Marshall Allen   Reeds,Multiple Reeds
Luqman Ali   Drums
Artaukatune   Percussion
Sylvester Baton   Reeds,Multiple Reeds
Tony Bethel   Trombone
Rhoda Blount   Vocals
Vincent Chancey   French Horn
Hutch Jones   Reeds,Multiple Reeds
Reg McDonald   Drums
Skeeter McFarland   Guitar
Walter Miller   Trumpet
Eloe Omoe   Reeds,Multiple Reeds
Curt Pulliam   Trumpet
Michael Ray   Trumpet
Taylor Richardson   Guitar
Knoel Scott   Reeds,Multiple Reeds
June Tyson   Vocals
Richard Williams   Bass
Steve Clarke   Bass
Harry Wilson   Vibes
Kenny Williams   Reeds
James Jacson   Reeds,Multiple Reeds
Damon Choice   Vibes
Ken Williams   Multiple Reeds
Danny Thompson   Multiple Reeds

Technical Credits

Mike Dacek   Engineer
Keith Spring   Liner Notes
Mark Sten   Composer

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