As much fun as Recovery Week was (well, Monday through Friday anyway) the training is officially reinstated this week and that means a kick-starting of the daily core workouts to boot. That also means that this week will mark the completion of my 100 Day Challenge as well, so that’s also pretty awesome. But first things first, Day 97 and another purchase from this past Saturday’s Record Store Day, the ‘Janus’ album by Sun Ra.
This album marks another reason why I was particularly excited about this years’ RSD as not one, but two, Sun Ra albums were being re-released, this first one on psychedelic yellow and black swirl color vinyl no less. The tracks have been remastered and pressed at the Pallas studio in Germany and some RSD sites where even hailing this particular release as one of the essential “must have” albums this year.
This compilation of rare material draws from tapes recorded between 1963 and 1970, with the space-age jazz shaman conjuring up a variety of styles and moods along the way.
A balmy tropical vibe greets the ears with the opener (‘Island in the Sun’), but it doesn’t take long for Ra to set his controls for the stratosphere, and soon, distorted gongs, haunted house organ, and homemade instruments are exploring African mysticism on the title track. ‘Velvet‘ is a more traditional hard bop cut, but some gleefully manic saxophone and French horn work lends a cartoonish anarchy to the tune. Chaos is certainly the form for the finale, ‘Joy‘, as Ra directs his boys to get free, and the musicians coast through gale wind discord into a calm, disturbing breeze. It all winds down to a lonely drummer whose solo (and the album) meets an abrupt end mid-lick.
Taken from both live and studio performances, the tracks may once have been intended as a complete album, but they haven’t been available previously except scattered between a few rare Saturn sides…until now, of course. And while some might consider ‘Janus‘ to be hardly essential for anyone still combing through Ra’s voluminous catalog of unique releases, the hardcore contingent (myself included) won’t be disappointed (I wasn’t).