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Crack the Sky

Between the Cracks

Review by Gary Hill

This is an interesting compilation from an interesting band. Crack the Sky's brand of progressive rock is unusual and intriguing. So, it should be no surprise that they have assembled an unusual collection of songs here. You are probably used to seeing "greatest hit" albums. That's a no brainer and rather objective. More subjective are "best of" or "essential collections," but they are still common. Here we find a set of tunes that the band feel should have been more talked about and popular. In other words, these are songs they think "slipped through the cracks." It will be interesting to see if some of these generate more interest in a different setting. Sometimes great music feels almost redundant or lost on the wrong album. Everything here is strong. That's for certain. It should be noted that I previously reviewed some of this music (the songs from Ostrich). For the sake of consistency, those track reviews were modified for use here.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 5. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2021.

Track by Track Review
All Fly Away (from World In Motion 1, 1983)
A building, up-tempo clean guitar part starts the album. The vocals come in over the top of that backdrop. The piece grows from there with a lot of style, and more instruments join. While this has a bit of an 80s pop rock vibe, the keyboards bring more prog tendencies. I love the powered up and meaty guitar solo on the track, too. The whole piece during that part has a lush and powerful arrangement. The multiple layers of vocals later are an asset to the song, as well.
Monkey Time (from The End, 1984)
This starts with crowd noise. As the guitar enters, I'm reminded of Max Webster. There is some great funk built into this piece. It almost feels like what you might get if Frank Zappa and Max Webster did something with Parliament. This is a powerhouse. It has a lot of 80s texture, but there is plenty more here, too. The horns bring some classy jazz elements to the cut.
Coconuts (from Ghost, 2001)
That funk is back with a vengeance here. Again Frank Zappa is a valid reference, too. I really dig the cool groove on this cut a lot. It's tastefully twisted and slightly demented. It's also very cool. This really becomes quite a crazed powerhouse before it's done. It's one of the standout cuts of this album.
Zoom (from Ghost, 2001)
There is a spacey kind of slow vibe here. This has some hints of Hawkwind in the mix, but no one would ever mistake it for them. There are some great melodic elements, and the vocal arrangement works, too. There is a drifty kind of expansive, yet mellow, jam later that has some hints of Pink Floyd. It's punctuated by some faster paced, more powered up prog that feels a bit like fusion here and there. This extensive instrumental movement is one of the strongest passages of the disc.
A Letter Home (from The Sale, 2007)
This is not really proggy at all. It's a stripped back, bluesy kind of number. That said, I could hear David Gilmour doing something similar. This is a song that represents a letter sent by a soldier to his mother at home.
Immigration (from The Sale, 2007)
There is some cool funky bass built into this number. It's a classy cut with some fusion, classic rock and killer prog rock in the mix. This is one of the standouts here. The lyrics are pretty messed up, but also poignant and tasty.
Here It Comes Again (from Machine, 2010)
Powering in with a fast-paced and hard rocking prog sound, this is on fire. There are some cool twists and turns. The lyrics are a trip. There is a cool, twisted guitar solo break.
We're All Dead (from Machine, 2010)
A mellow, droning concept brings this in. The track builds out very slowly and gradually from there before exploding out into harder rocking sounds. I'm reminded a little of the band Red Rider in some ways here. As the song proper takes over it has some great hooks and a lot of style. I can make out some Dire Straits in some of the guitar sounds on this tune. There is some exceptional crazed piano on this tune. The lyrics are rather bleak. The guitar dueling soloing later is absolutely on fire.
The Box (from Ostrich, 2012)
The mode that starts this feels electronic and rather weird, but they take it from there to a jam that’s a bit funky, but also rather like jazzy King Crimson. The weird processed vocals call to mind psychedelia. There is some space rock built into this later as it powers upward. It gets more intense after that transitional section, but stays in the same general musical territory. It drops way down after that to almost acapella, but powers back upward. At times this calls to mind Primus a bit. It’s bouncy and rubbery and very cool.
Your House Is On Fire (from Ostrich, 2012)
The familiar links are still present here, but this ups the jazz ante quite a bit. The horn section is great, and there is just so much oomph here that it’s awesome.
King of the Rodeo (from Ostrich, 2012)
This is slower and mellower, and the vocals, along with some of the music, brings a tongue-in-cheek country element. The Primus concept is here, yet it also calls to mind Rush just a bit, too.
Lemonade (from The Beauty of Nothing, 2015)
There is a lot of funk built into this rocker. It's high energy. It's also another calls to mind Zappa to some degree.
 
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