I first met Crack the Sky in 1976 with the release of the “Animal Notes” album. Needless to say, I had been taken back by their first release earlier that year simply titled “Crack the Sky.” I was a journalist for a Philadelphia weekly music magazine back then, pretty much doing what I do today – telling people about great music – and back then, there was no better music than Crack the Sky.
When music this good is somewhat ignored by the masses (as was the fortune of this music back then), it’s not impossible to think that the leader, John Palumbo would get pretty frustrated and bolt for a solo career, leaving the rest of this unparalleled band to fight for itself. And that’s just what they (Rick Witkowski – guitars, Jimmy Griffiths – guitar, Joe Macre – bass & Joey D’Amico – drums) did by adding a new lead singer named Gary Lee Chappell to the mix when they released their third album – Safety in Numbers” in 1978. Even though Palumbo fans missed John, they stuck with Crack and “Safety” was well received for the truly brilliant record it was.
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Later that same year (no Matthews Southern Comfort pun intended) Crack recorded their first true-to-form LIVE album (on my birthday, no less) at The Tower Theater in Philly. Of course, I was there to celebrate my birthday and share it with Joe Macre since we have the same birthday. This event resulted in the most brilliant live record ever made – in my humble opinion. The tightness of Crack the Sky could not be denied. They had no equal. None!
I’ll never forget their performance at The Warner Theater in Washington, DC. The place was packed as usual but this time was a bit different as fans seemed to – quite literally – lose their minds (baby) as the performance moved into the most incredible show my eyes and ears have ever – that’s “ever” experienced. Not even Midnight Oil (the second greatest live band in the world) ever topped this DC show by Crack.
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Fast forward three years and Gary Lee was gone and John P was back – but the band had changed a bit – new members came in. And then Crack went forth to release six more albums on various indie labels through the 80’s. By the 90’s, Crack was gone – for the most part. But 1998 raised the dead and “Cut” told the world that Crack was back. Fans from all over the world came to see the first Crack reunion performance in Towson, Maryland in 1999 – which was committed to tape and is available here on CD and for download. It seemed that Crack was a hard band to forget and so the band released a brilliant album called “Ghost” in 2002 (see below) and now their most recent CD – “Dogs from Japan”.
I’ll admit that the music of Crack the Sky may not be for everyone – it may even take some time for die hard fans to become die hard fans but the effort of repeated listening pays off. Welcome to my world.
Dean Sciarra – ItsAboutMusic.com