At their best, Crack The Sky reached the heights of artrock expression. A myriad of styles intersect effortlessly, lyrics are clever and delivered with equal measures of humor and gravity, and the performances are confident but not overwrought. The best Crack The Sky albums equal the best material by peers like 10cc, Queen and Max Webster. ‘Animal Notes’ is their second album, and along with successor 'Safety In Numbers’, it’s a high point in their discography. Both are recommended to all prog fans. Coming off the quirky but relatively conservative self-titled debut, John Palumbo led Crack The Sky through eight engaging numbers on 'Animal Notes’. The brooding atmosphere of “Animal Skins” and ambitious melancholy of “Maybe I Can Fool Everybody (Tonight)” highlight Side 1. The musical themes in “Maybe…” are extremely affective, pulling distinct emotions from the listener: sadness, loneliness, longing. Aided by Palumbo’s near-genius lyric writing, “Maybe…” remains a highlight of their catalog. Side 1 is rounded off with the harder rocking “We Want Mine” and “Wet Teenager”, setting themselves apart thanks to dextrous playing and Palumbo’s brilliant wordplay.
Side 2 gets proggier. “Rangers At Midnight” has everything you could want: a well- written storyline, an impressive dynamic range, excellent playing, unique arrangement ideas. Next track “Virgin…No” brings things to an entirely different plane, a hard rocking tune with curious shifts in tempo and time signature. “Invaders From Mars” finds Palumbo sounding like Genesis-era Peter Gabriel, and the music isn’t far from the more linear material on 'The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway’. Its final crashing flourishes lead to the sober “Play On”, a smart, introspective ending.
There aren’t a ton of keyboards here, a trait that sets artrock apart from the symphonic end of the genre. The guitar work on “Rangers At Midnight” takes the place of keyboards with commanding leads and themes, much in the way Brian May worked inside Queen’s most ambitious songs. The players impress subtly, allowing Palumbo’s songwriting gift to be the main focus. Though poor Crack The Sky albums outnumber good ones, the good ones should be investigated by even the most demanding prog fan….by slipperman ………….. Without a question CTS were one of the most under appreciated prog art rock bands of the 70’s (right up there with City Boy) and this their second album is nothing short of genius. In contrast to their debut album, Animal Notes explored a slightly softer and more acoustic side of sound while not straying too far from their signature sound. Highlights for me are the standout vocal harmonies and the guitar work of Rick Witkowski. For those who are not familiar with CTS you will find a high energy band with art rock written all over them……exceptional song writing, top notch musicianship, multi - genre challenging music….a mix of pop, rock and progressive rock at their core. Their sound is not that polished sound you hate but rather true raw sound and high energy playing. genuine graet music and a band I heartly endorse………. by loserboy ………….. This is the second offering from the Crack the Sky and the one least sited by people likely due to it’s lack of much radio airplay. It does feature a band on the rise in one sense (considering it was their second album and there were still high hopes for them) and decline in the other (creative differences really came to a head during this time and could have seriously affected the very existance of the band let alone the album). Despite all this, it is a very evenly balanced collection of highly progressive yet ultimately 'user friendly’ songs that - at least for most fans of the group - represent part of the high water mark for this very underrated band.
I started with Animal notes maybe because it is my personal favorite but also because it is a somewhat fitting analogy of the band at this time with so much potential and subsequent output yet so little commercial or historic success. Most bands like Crack the Sky endure a few years or possibly decade or two of obscurity before ultimately being revealed for the genius they were. Sadly Crack the Sky still remains largely unknown to all but a very loyal group of fans mostly in the Baltimore area………….. Progressive rock group Crack the Sky was formed in the Ohio River Valley region in 1975 by frontman John Palumbo, guitarists Jim Griffiths and Rick Witkowski, bassist Joe Macre, and drummer Joey D'Amico. According to the website the band was originally dubbed ArcAngel, building a loyal following on the Cleveland and Baltimore club circuits before signing to the Lifesong label to issue their self-titled debut LP, which earned critical acclaim for Palumbo’s acerbic lyrics and the songs’ complex structures and time changes. Commercial reward was minimal, however, and after completing Crack the Sky’s second LP, 1976’s Animal Notes, Palumbo exited to pursue a solo career. D'Amico assumed lead vocal duties on 1978’s Safety in Numbers, with singer Gary Lee Chappell featured on the Live Sky release. Crack the Sky then disbanded, but in 1980 Palumbo, Witkowski, and keyboardist Vince DePaul briefly reformed the group to record the White Music album before again dissolving. Palumbo then formed another new lineup for a series of albums including Photoflamingo, World in Motion I, and Raw before reuniting with Witkowski, D'Amico, and DePaul for a series of 1986 live dates at the Baltimore club Hammerjacks and eventually a new 1989 studio LP, From the Greenhouse. Dog City followed in 1990, and Crack the Sky infrequently reunited throughout the decade to come. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi………………
Line-up / Musicians - John Palumbo / vocals, keyboards, acoustic guitar - Jim Griffiths / guitars - Rick Witkowski / guitars - Joe Macre / bass - Joey D'Amico / drums
Songs / Tracks Listing 1. We Want Mine (4:54) 2. Animal Skins (3:33) 3. Wet Teenager (3:32) 4. Maybe I Can Fool Everybody(Tonight) (5:57) 5. Rangers at Midnight (7:34) 6. Virgin….No (4:55) 7. Invaders from Mars (3:31) 8. Play On (4:10)