Sun Ra saturn re-issues

Many of the earliest Sun Ra titles (late 50's to early '60's) on his own Saturn label have been reissued on LP from the original tapes by the original producers, which is a rare and wonderful thing. This is not news, because they have been out for a few years. I just want to mention that these pressings are excellent and the sound is suprisingly good. This is of note because the original tapes are not 'audiophile quality', and the original LP's are hard to listen to for serious audiophiles more often than not, but the material is so monumental that we MUST hear it. Ra is a pivotal figure, and the early saturns are key in his oeuvre.

They have cleaned them up MINIMALLY, which is a good thing, meaning that they only ventured in where absolutely necessary. This, and using master tapes make these reissues a rare pleasure. Often better or as good as the original LP's, and I know, I own almost all of them.

Now I am not a fan of most contemporary pressings, and certainly the '180 gram vinyl' (or whatever they call it) has been a consistent disappointment. Original pressings from the 50's-70's are almost always better. However these are worth buying if you are new to Ra. And know that a $200 original might not sound any better!

I highly recommend the following titles: We Travel the Spaceways, Atlantis, When Sun Comes Out, Interstellar Low Ways, Cosmic Tones For Mental Therapy...and the great "Magic City" (one of my all time favorites).
Thanks for this info. I have a couple of these and have been wondering what their origin was. I had assumed they were bootlegs of some sort, and had been hesitant to grab em all. Good to know their provenance.
Alton Abraham, the original producer, did many of them. From what I have heard crappy digital hijynx were kept to a bare minimum.

They look like bootlegs because they reproduced the original '50's and '60's covers, which were often drawings done by band members without the oversight of professional graphic designers. They are crude, weird, and very 'homemade' looking.

Ra often drew covers himself as well. I own several pieces of his original artwork done on a blank record cover. In the 70's he sold records with original drawings on them at shows. I was lucky enough to seize the opportunity and also get them signed by the entire band.

For those who want to go 'way out there', do get "The Magic City". For those who want Ra's explorations to stay within bop-framed jazz, get "Interstellar Lowways". You will find that both his bop and free jazz are absolutely his own, and nowhere near the conventional modes of these forms.
The Saturn reissues are pretty good. I've got 'Super Sonic Jazz' that I'm fond of. The recording isn't great, but the music is compelling. By comparison, I've got a very-mint original 1965 copy of 'The Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra Vol.1' and the pressing isn't the best, although I think its on ESP-Disk not Saturn.

BTW,If anyone has a decent original vinyl copy of "The Futuristic Sounds of Sun Ra" on Savoy that you'd consider parting with I'd like to hear from you.
Grimace: of course the original saturns sounded bad. So what. If we were so obsessed with sound quality that we couldn't listen to a record, we would indeed have a problem. Not that I am saying that you are guilty of this, far from it.

I also have a poor sounding Heliocentric Worlds LP's on ESP, including one that looks mint but sounds so-so. Even the Base records reissues sound better.

Sorry, I am holding on to my original Futuristic Sounds of Sun Ra on saturn. You should try the Jazz Record Center, and speak to Fred Cohen. It will probably run about $40.
I didn't say I don't listen to it, just that it isn't a great pressing. In fact side A is worse than side B for some reason. I'm guessing QC wasn't a high priority at the pressing plant.
Those ESP's were wacky. I have some that are sonically spectacular. Others seem like a monkey on acid pressed them.

My best ESP record (sonically): a mint original of "Spiritual Unity" by Albert Ayler in mono. My worst: Marion Brown's first album, whose name I forgot (indicative of it's non-played status).

Seriously, check out Jazz Record Center here in NYC. Fred Cohen can get anything for a price.
first of all, thank you. incidentally I landed on this site through Google, but I have always wondered who made the reissues and how they were made.

so, Alton Abraham did all this? great.
but even when many of them were made from the original tapes, it surely will be quiet different from the original. transferring tape, A/D (I guess it won´t be a fully analogue process until the master-lacquer), and of course cutting and pressing all will make the difference. does this matter? to some, to others not.

we definitely have to ask what "better" sound is by the way. I love recordings such as these old Saturns as close to what they (Ra, Alton etc) heard back in the 60s and 70s on their monitors, so I love the original pressings. but what´s "original" by the way? I consider f.e. my Thoth version of Cosmic Tones... as original although the first version was with a different cover, and surely a different sound as well.

I want to point out that Saturns/Thoths did NOT sound bad over-all, like so many tend to write in their ebay or whatever descriptions. it´s just an excuse for a bad copy. I have about 10 Saturns/Thoths so far and they all sound fantastic. I know there´s bad ones, but that´s NOT the majority.
I´m audio engineer and quiet a critical listener, although I do not consider myself as an audiophile. I can perfectly live with a dirty 4-track machine sound if it represents what was going on on that particular recording.

maybe someone has even more details on the reissues, how/where they were mastered, and who exactly is doing them? is Alton Abraham just giving his ok or is he at the helm for these reissues?

and, there have been stolen quiet some mastertapes in the 70s, this should also be considered...
Josch753: Alton Abraham did not do all the reissues, just some of them and maybe most of them. I am not sure which. They kept the liner notes the same as the originals down to the letter, so it does not say on the jacket. He certainly had the access to the master tapes. Albums like "Strange Strings" were transfered from master discs, and you can hear surface noise on it. Maybe they were metal, maybe not. The early saturns were on tape for sure though, as you can hear the hiss. I am glad they left it.

I think that the saturns are a mixed bag, but personally I love them all. I have lived with them so long that even the 'flaws' have beauty. They are a rare and wonderful thing.
Josch753: you probably know this, but there is a CD release called "The Lost Albums (lost tapes?)" in this series. It has 2 of those stolen albums from the 70's. They are phenomenal and sound fantastic. One is called "Cymbals" and it is pure space blues with some rockin Ra organ. My favorite in that space blues genre: "Night of the purple moon".
thank you, interesting!

as for the CDs: I don´t have a CD player. I mean, I have one in my computer (with the RME Hammerfall A/D), but no real CDplayer in my audio system. I don´t buy CDs. they simply don´t do it for me. I love vinyl.
in general I don´t listen to CDs as well as CD-Rs or mp3s, I´m really an oldschool vinyl lover.

listening to Sun Ra albums that I don´t have would be too bad, because I would hate not having them on LP, hahaha. so I don´t listen to such at all.

my general taste and "knowledge" about music is enough for me sometimes, or most of the times, to judge upfront (and then buy on LP) if I like something or not, when I read about the musicians, the date of recording or the label. so I often (most of the times) order without having heard the recordings before. every now and then I don´t hit my own taste (f.e. I have bought the Descendants Of Mike & Phoebe on Strata east for much money but hated it because of the "opera"-style vocals:) but most of the time I´m ok. I have to admit I do use the internet for MP3 previews, just those 30 sec. samples that you can listen to legally.

hey, so you own a lot of Saturns? I have a question, because I´m at the moment not sure if I have a bootleg or not. maybe you can help me with identifying it.
can you send me an email? ttabigorATgmxDOTat is my adress. would be great to talk about a few Saturnian matters then!
Yes Josch753, I have many many original saturns from the earliest to the lastest. I also have a really complete discography and record of recording dates not pressed compiled from Ra's own people, and I have a few discographies that just cover the records.

In terms of the saturns, what you have to be careful about is mislabeling. It was common. The later ones with the plain white covers were especially vulnerable to this. The only way to know for sure is to listen and comapre with the record label, which might be incorrect. When it comes down to it is is knowledge of Ra's material.

If you can send me a file somehow of what you need identified I can try. If not, I know several people more knowledgeable than myself you can pass it on to.

The white cover LP's look like bootlegs, but are actually saturns. Check the label first.
on another forum there was the comment that maybe some so-called-"sellers" will start trying to sell them as original ones but so far I thought the difference is too big, alone from the cover print.

but such cockroaches already started crawling out of their holes...

there´s 2 guys on Gemm selling the reissues for f.e. 126$, 149$, 169$ (f.e. for the recent Fate In A...), 181$ (for the recent Interstellar Low Ways REISSUE!!!).
now - taking the price into consideration and that they don´t state "reissue" anywhere, but even write "El Saturn" or "Saturn" (instead of Saturn Research) and also "used", you could think it´s the original. "used Saturn 181$" do you think that´s the recent 12$ reissue?
in fact they play the game consciously to rip people off.
I asked per email and they all confirmed without shame it´s reissues.
and when you see what they chrage for original pressings you know they´re out of their mind and just wait for the next idiot to pass their way: 385$ for the Base version of Nothing Is..., 567$ for Nuits De La...1 and so on. total rip-off.

or on, there´s a seller called Rockhouse who also tries to sell the reissues for: Lanquidity 99Euro, Other Planes... and all other recent reissues for 56Euro (not like the Gemm people but still, that´s quiet some money if you think in $).

I don´t know what´s up with these people, but it makes me really angry. in the end, we´re talking about music, art, and a minimum of ethic maybe in this "business" where we all love weird music, don´t we? ok, if the old Saturns are sold for much money then why not, but there´s a limit where it becomes obscene I think, not so speak of the reissue rip-offs.
The easiest way to tell the reissue is vinyl quality. The old saturns have a dull non-lustrous finish to the vinyl. Since the covers are exact, yes, it is easy to be fooled over the net. I like the exactly reproduced covers, but I can see how this could be a problem.

The best way to get the reissues is to buy them AS reissues, obviously, from a reputable seller. Ditto the originals. If you are dealing with a place like Jazz Record Center you know it is genuine. I would not buy an original over the net anyway, for other reasons. I want to see it first.