Crack The Sky - Cut

Year of Release: 1998
Label: Stepford Wives Records
Catalog Number: CTS1998
Format: CD
Total Time: 42:35:00

Crack The Sky is an under-appreciated prog-rock band that first appeared in the mid 70's with two sensational albums Crack The Sky and Animal Notes. These first two albums introduced the world (well, a very small part of the world) to band-leader John Palumbo's fascinating compositions and unruly sense of humor. Over the years, however, Crack The Sky went through a number of changes (including losing John Palumbo for a while), creating sometimes great and sometimes mediocre music. As of this writing, the latest studio album from the Crack The Sky team is Cut, which has all the hallmarks of a great Crack The Sky offering, including cool songs, interesting arrangements, and plenty of Palumbo's humor.

Crack The Sky is not a prog-rock band in the sense of Yes or Genesis -- that is, they are not a symphonic prog band. Rather, Crack The Sky starts with fairly conventional rock songs and then spices them up with tricky guitar parts, more-complex-than-normal arrangements, and often irreverent lyrics. You can think of Crack The Sky as a quirky version of Saga, if you like, as they share Saga's style of progged-up rock-and-roll, although Saga takes themselves more seriously. (This is not to say that Crack The Sky sounds like Saga, because they don't.)

As with most Crack The Sky albums, Cut features a variety of styles. Songs like "Why Me?" and "Madonna" blast into gear in typical Crack The Sky prog mode with their unique brand of what I can only think to call prog funk, with guitar, bass, and drums performing closely nit note patterns that are not only on the proggy side, but real toe tappers. Other songs like the title song, "Cut," as well as "Eye To Eye" and "I'm Going To Kill Myself," are more conventional rock fare, while still retaining the Crack The Sky sound.

There are several obvious references to The Beatles on this album, as well as some not so obvious references to not only The Beatles, but also Yes. I'm not sure whether the not so obvious references are simply coincidences or are intentional, but let's start with the obvious, which is the song "God." John Lennon fans will remember a song titled "God" from his first solo album, Plastic Ono Band. John Palumbo's composition "God" sounds so much like Lennon's that it almost crosses the line into plagiarism. Palumbo can be forgiven, though, because the song is so obviously a reworking of Lennon's song that you know that there's no way he's trying to pass it off as 100% his own; this is very much a Lennon tribute. Elsewhere on the album, Palumbo and crew manage to slip in a line from "The End," the closing refrains of the The Beatles' great Abbey Road.

On the not so obvious side, the chorus melody for "Eye To Eye" comes almost directly from the Beatle hit "I'm Down," probably a coincidence, although even the lyrics are close (Palumbo: "How can you laugh when you're lying there."; The Beatles: "How can you laugh when you know I'm down"). Also, the opening bass line for "The Art Of Wondering" sounds lifted directly from Yes's "Heart Of The Sunrise," although Palumbo's song takes the bass line in an entirely different direction. Are these intentional nods? Beats me, but the bass line for "Heart Of The Sunrise" bears such a strong Yes signature that it's hard to believe that Palumbo could have used it accidentally. Anyway, "The Art Of Wondering" features a roasting guitar solo that more than makes up for any accidental lifting.

Crack The Sky even gives themselves a nod with a reworked and cooking version of the song "We Want Mine," which first appeared on the wonderful Animal Notes album.

All in all, Cut is a welcome return for a band with a unique sound, a band that can rock out but still throw in plenty of proggy bits for those who like a little meat with their potatoes. Here's hoping that we'll hear more new stuff from Crack The Sky soon. Until then, this CD is going to get a lot of spins in my player.

Why Me? (4:48) / Cut (The Sequel) (5:08) / Oh Madonna (5:52) / God (4:19) / Eye To Eye (4:25) / The Art Of Wondering (5:10) / We Want Mine (Still) (4:33) / Hey Earl (3:39) / I'm Gonna Kill Myself (3:19) / Little Stinky (1:22)

John Palumbo - vocals, guitar, keyboards
John Tracey - drums, vocals
Cary Ziegler - bass
Bobby Hird - guitar, vocals
Rick Witkowski - guitar
Ron Zebron - guitar

Crack The Sky (1975)
Animal Notes (1976)
Safety in Numbers (1978)
Live Sky (1978)
White Music (1980)
Classic Crack (1980)
Photoflamingo (1981)
World In Motion I (1983)
The End (1983)
Raw (1987)
Dog City (1989)
From The Greenhouse (1989)
Rare (1994)
Crack Attic (1997)
Cut (1998)
Live: Recher Theater (2000)
The Best Of The Rest (2000)
Animal Notes/Safety In Numbers (2000)
Live On WBAB (2000)
The Best Of Crack The Sky (2000)
Ghost (2002)
Dogs From Japan (2004)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: January 1st 2001
Reviewer: Clayton Walnum

Artist website:
Hits: 1700
Language: english


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