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Thread: FEATURED CD - Crack The Sky : Safety In Numbers

  1. #1
    Moderator Duncan Glenday's Avatar
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    FEATURED CD - Crack The Sky : Safety In Numbers



    Per Allmusic
    t's generally a bad sign when the lead singer quits a band in the middle of an album, especially when that singer wrote every song on the band's previous two albums. It is therefore somewhat surprising that Safety in Numbers was not merely a good album, but one which rivals Crack the Sky's award-wining first release. Though departing leader John Palumbo contributed a few vocals before quitting the band, new singer Gary Lee Chappell and other bandmembers filled in nicely on a mix of Palumbo's songs and new tunes written by guitarist Rick Witkowski and various partners. The two songs written by Palumbo aren't even the best -- that distinction would have to go to "A Night on the Town (With Snow White)," a delightful piece that mixes styles from the 1920s and progressive rock in a way that is probably unique. There are other lyrical gems here too, including the grim title cut and the sarcastic concert favorite "Lighten Up McGraw." Palumbo's "Nuclear Apathy" is five minutes of good song stretched to eight minutes, though the splendid guitar work and inspired arrangement does much to redeem the error. Taken as a whole, Safety in Numbers showed that there was more to Crack the Sky than John Palumbo, and that the band was ready to carry on in high style.
    http://www.allmusic.com/album/safety...s-mw0000845611







    Regards,

    Duncan

  2. #2
    A beautiful album, and one which developed into the superb "Live Sky." Me like.
    Cobra handling and cocaine use are a bad mix.

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    Member Guitarplyrjvb's Avatar
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    Great album, but this was it for them! A drastic drop in quality was to follow. The first 3 records are must-haves, though!

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    Member interbellum's Avatar
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    Next to their debut my favourite Crack The Sky-album. I thought John's 21st Century Redux-version was interesting, mainly because of the extra tracks. But I still have mixed feelings about that one.
    The best thing he should have done with that one is release it as a double disc including a re-master of the first edition. The original album hasn't been re-issued well, apart from a 2-on-1 CD, which misses one track.
    The albums after this one have their moments, but are often less interesting because John's mechanical drums a leaning towards (great) poptunes.

  5. #5
    Member chescorph's Avatar
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    This group should have been much bigger.
    Almost a progressive version of Steely Dan, with awesomely tight rhythm section, an interesting if quirky lead singer, etc.

  6. #6
    Member Steve F.'s Avatar
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    Really good RAWK album; always liked it very much.
    Steve F.

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    Had this on vinyl when it came out and haven't heard it in probably 30 years. I remember liking it.

  8. #8
    Nuclear Apathy is a damn good tune.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fox View Post
    Nuclear Apathy is a damn good tune.
    Yes. And I've always loved the title track!.... a prog classic in my opinion. I like the vocals a lot on this album... and bristle at what seems to be a consensus that the singer is somehow inferior to the guy that quit. I like him better myself (the drummer if memory serves). An important stand out feature for me with this record is the great synchronized punch-fest between drummer and bass player. LOVE it! Some of the drumming is right up there with Barriemore Barlow's best work.

    Thanks for featuring this one !
    Genuine prog album from back in the day! - *free download* : masquepremiere.bandcamp.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fox View Post
    Nuclear Apathy is a damn good tune.
    Damn right....their classic album IMHO

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fox View Post
    Nuclear Apathy is a damn good tune.
    Live Sky should have opened with this and if it were a double I think it would have done better. Live these guys were amazing.

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    Member Guitarplyrjvb's Avatar
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    Apparently, they've re-recorded this with some added tracks. I guess Palumbo is singing. His voice is shot. They should have left this masterpiece alone! NOT an improvement!

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    Member interbellum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guitarplyrjvb View Post
    Apparently, they've re-recorded this with some added tracks. I guess Palumbo is singing. His voice is shot. They should have left this masterpiece alone! NOT an improvement!
    Yes indeed. Mentioned it in #4 ;-)



    Wrote this review when the redux was released:

    CRACK THE SKY
    Safety In Numbers : 21st Century Redux
    (LIFESONG RECORDS LSCD-7050-2)
    Sacrilege or a new masterpiece; the case “John Palumbo” who left Crack The Sky before the recordings of Safety In Numbers began, in order to start a solo-career, after he had written a couple of songs for that album. Producer Rob Stevens with singer Gary Lee Chappell finished the job after that. Almost 30 years later Stevens meets Palumbo during the production of Citizen X, after which the possibility is being discussed to provide Safety In Numbers with Palumbo’s vocals. The result, with the sub-title 21st Century Redux, is the evidence. Although Chappell was a good singer, there’s a lot more perception now, because “dear John”, comparable with Peter Gabriel (with whom he shares the little burr on his vocal cord) imagines him self in the characters he sings about. Still, it’s strange to hear the compositions in a different order, at which they’ve departed the balance of an epic opening- and closing-track, now the title-track opens the album and the beautiful Nuclear Apathy can be heard as track four. But to close this time with one of the three bonus-tracks, which in 1978 didn’t fit on the LP, is a masterly move. You see, The Crying Father, Farmer From Idaho is a Robots For Ronnie-like ballad, which includes beautiful Mellotron-strings and a sensitive guitar-solo. The song is about a farmer who looses his daughter “Miss Idaho” to Hollywood. The other extra’s are Atlantic City, full of contrary rhythm-guitars in the best Crack The Sky-tradition, and Jungle Man Lonely, sung with a Randy Newman-like intonation – “without dentures” –, about a social disable stinking capitalist with “plastic teet(h)” searching for a wife in California. A couple of instruments have been added too, for example a fine guitar-solo in the introvert Long Nights, with its dazzling stereo-effects. On the other hand are the dropping of the Moog-runs in Give Myself To You, one of the jazz-rock related tracks, and the softer mix of the bombastic choir-Mellotron in the title-track. The production though, with a lot of attention for the powerful bass-playing, is very dynamic, especially compared with the 2-on-1 CD from 1989, although Prelude To Safety In Numbers is missing again, just like it was on the latter release. As a consequence of this the verdict is that this re-interpretation is, just like Apocalypse Now Redux, a new masterpiece, at which the birds on the cover are now flying rightly to the left and the band-logo has been reinstated. It’s still desirable though to restore the complete original too. “Case closed.”
    Information: www.americanoriginalscds.com/lifesong.htm

  14. #14
    Member interbellum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sturgeon's Lawyer View Post
    A beautiful album, and one which developed into the superb "Live Sky." Me like.
    A more complete "Live Sky" was released as "Alive And Kickin' Ass" in 2006.

    Recorded during live performances at The Tower Theatre, Philadelphia, and The Agora, Cleveland, in 1978, during the "Safety In Numbers" Tour. All of the recordings in this CD are new mixes and are remastered, using 2006 technology, and were not previously released on CD by Lifesong Records. These live performances of MIND BABY, NUCLEAR APATHY, LONG NIGHTS and SAFETY IN NUMBERS were never previously mixed or released. HOLD ON, LIGHTEN UP McGRAW, SHE'S A DANCER, ICE, SURF CITY and I AM THE WALRUS were previously released in the Lifesong 33-1/3 LP "LIVE SKY" (LS-6024). SHE'S A DANCER is the full, live performance (the middle jam was edited out of the LS-6024 analog disc). Produced and engineered by Joe Macre for Cuppajoe Music.

  15. #15
    Member interbellum's Avatar
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    Here's a review for the live-album ^^

    CRACK THE SKY
    Alive And Kickin’ Ass
    (LIFESONG RECORDS LSCD-7004-2)
    In 1978, just before the recordings for Safety In Numbers would take place, singer/keyboard-player John Palumbo decided to leave Crack The Sky to start a solo-career, which gave us the moderately received Innocent Bystander. CTS went into the studio with Gary Lee Chappell (vocals) and Rob Stevens (production/keyboards), which lead to their most symphonic/progressive record to date, which by the way was still largely written by Palumbo. After that there were a couple of concerts with Chappell and keyboardist Vince DePaul, which were set down on Live Sky. Later parts from that album, together with tracks from the bootleg Live At WBAB, which was meant for radio-stations, were published on one CD. The remaining songs plus four never before released live-songs are now gathered on Alive And Kickin’ Ass. Although Chappell didn’t have the persuasiveness from Palumbo (it wasn’t a surprise that the latter would reform the band two years later), these 75 minutes give us a fine idea of this self-willing band. After three tightly played public-favourites (Hold On, Mind Baby, Lighten Up McGraw) She’s A Dancer shows the improvisational talent of the six men: there’s some great soloing going on, from which especially DePaul’s flashy Moog-play strikes. The wonderful Ice (almost a quarter of an hour long) also contains long spun out passages, full of interactions between the two guitarists. And in Surf City inserted fragments from amongst others the French national anthem and Rossini’s Wilhelm Tell Overture show perfectly the humoristic character of the band. Meanwhile they performed impressive versions of the highlights of the latest studio-album (the partly acoustic Nuclear Apathy, the ballad Long Nights and the title-track with beautiful Mellotron-playing), after which I Am The Walrus was the traditional concert-closer. A fine document from an outstanding live-band.
    Information: www.winthropmedia.com

  16. #16
    Member Guitarplyrjvb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by interbellum View Post
    Yes indeed. Mentioned it in #4 ;-)
    Yes you did, sorry!

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guitarplyrjvb View Post
    Yes you did, sorry!
    Well, that's oké. Duncan likes it when the "Featured CD's" have more than 20 posts

    I just noticed in the OP the second clip is from the redux-album, not from the original.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Guitarplyrjvb View Post
    Apparently, they've re-recorded this with some added tracks. I guess Palumbo is singing. His voice is shot. They should have left this masterpiece alone! NOT an improvement!
    This review from Amazon of Redux says it for me :

    This was probably Crack the Sky's best album in its original form. This re-mix is a huge disappointment. Please just re-master the original version (as was done for the first and fourth albums)and release it that way. And please do the same for Animal Notes. Those albums were perfect except for the limitations of the technology of the day. They need only sonic updating, not the complete reconfiguration that this new version sadly is.

    Now that the original version of this album has been around for almost 30 years, I feel that it belongs to the fans as much or more than the artist. To release such a drastically changed version without making the original available was a very bad idea, and the fact that the changes are not exactly improvements makes it worse.

    Not recommended, even for hard core Crack the Sky fans.

  19. #19
    Their last really good album. Along with their debut, this is their second best.
    Macht das ohr auf!

    COSMIC EYE RECORDS

  20. #20
    Great, Great and I mean GREAT band. One of my favorite bands from that era. Excellent album but nowhere near as brilliant as the first two albums. This band was a death short of having every bit of misfortune plague them during their earlier years.
    Be a loyal plastic robot for a world that doesn't care... Frank Zappa

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by spacefreak View Post
    Their last really good album. Along with their debut, this is their second best.


    Spun it again for the first time in many, many years the other day - and it holds up rather well.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck AzEee! View Post
    This band was a death short of having every bit of misfortune plague them during their earlier years.
    Not even that, if not directly. Jim Croce, the sentimental tough guy of folk-rock, was on the same label, and when his plane crashed the label higher-ups were very busy making hay from the tragedy - too busy to promote a newly-signed band like Crack the Sky. So CtS went out on tour, but none of the radio stations had their album to publicize the band or the shows, and none of the stores had it to sell. Except in Baltimore, Grand Rapids, and a few other places.

    And from what I've read, Croce himself had similar problems: Even though he had several hit records, the label garnisheed almost every cent he made from them and even from his concert takings. He could barely make a living. At the time of his death, he was apparently thinking of quitting the music business and becoming a writer.

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    From the Sunday after July 4th:


    This guy posted the best videos from CKS at Dundalk's Heritage Far. Definitely check out Ice and Lighten Up McGraw.
    https://m.youtube.com/user/Bookmdano2112

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  25. #25
    So where's John Palumbo?

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