Scott McFarland | Manassas, VA United States | 10/27/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The history of the record - Ra recorded it in 1957 for Transition, but they went out of business and it didn't come out until 1968. Transition did release a Ra album in 1956, "Sun Song", before they went under. So Ra had practically no visibility in the consumer market until the late 60's, while making incredible music. He released two albums on his own Saturn label (small-scale)in 1956 and 57, "SuperSonic Jazz" and "Jazz in Silhouette", and later released many sessions from the late 50's on his Saturn label; these are now available on CDs on the Evidence labels. One Saturn that he put out in 1967 (before this material had been issued by anyone) contained 4 of the tracks recorded here ("Sun Ra Visits Planet Earth", Side B of the Saturn LP and tracks 1 - 4 of the must-have Evidence CD).The session here is a good one though I feel the mastering is not as good as on the louder Evidence releases (the 4 tracks lifted from here sound stronger on "Visits Planet Earth", with all frequencies boosted). Had this been released in 1957, it could have and should have been well acclaimed and might have thrust Ra into the limelight. The tracks are lovely orchestrated big-band jazz."
Great early Sun Ra entry
C. Moon | Valley Village, CA | 09/27/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"By my count, this is either Sun Ra's 4th or 5th album, and while only a year has apparently passed since Sun Song, this is a much more mature work; among my favorite of the so-called 'straight' Sun Ra albums.
The playing is a lot looser here than Sun Song too, the Arkestra feel a lot more at ease and you can hear all the performances come through. This improved dynamic allows Sun Ra's piano to come out in a way that's really gorgeous--it's something I often miss on his other albums (though check out his live 77 solo piano performance!)
It's worth mentioning that a lot of the Sun Ra standards are here (Two Tones, Ankh, Saturn, Reflections in Blue...plenty of songs will hear again in different iterations.) What we end up with then is an early collection of some of Ra's best songs with some really solid performances that actually swing!
With Sound of Joy, everything just seems to be right. I think Angels and Demons may be a stronger release as far as pushing the arkestra ahead musically, but being progressive isn't all that counts. Sound of Joy finds the middle ground and makes a small masterpiece out of it.
One caveat for the collector: about half the tracks here are also collected on the Evidence CD 'Visits Planet Earth / Interstellar Low Ways', so if you already have that disc, this might be a tough purchase. Unfortunately, one of my favorite songs here doesn't make it on to the Evidence disc."