Review by Harry Kaplan
When this album came across my desk, I immediately went back to 1981 in Baltimore. November in 1981, Crack The Sky played four sold out shows at Painters Mill Music Fair. The event was sponsored by 98 Rock and it was an extravaganza. I went to one of the shows and it was a major musical event. I still remember that show so fondly.
I know now that Crack The Sky is from West Virginia, but for years I thought they were a local Baltimore band. There are still people to this day who think Crack The Sky is from Baltimore. They used to play all the local haunts at least once a year for a run. That includes clubs like the iconic Hammerjacks.
That Crack The Sky logo with the lightning bolt was one of the most copied logos in Maryland between the years of 1978 through 1986. I tried to copy that logo on my notebook maybe a million times, but I never got it quite right. I never gave up hope and kept trying to perfect that logo to no avail. If you had one of the black baseball shirts with the white Crack The Sky on it, you were definitely a music aficionado.
I hope that gives you all the sense of what Crack The Sky means to this area and what they have meant to me over the years. That was then, this is now. The old adage, “what have you done for me lately?” comes into play. The bottom line is this, does this album rock? This is their 20th studio album and let me assure you, IT ROCKS! I have listened to this album already half a dozen times and I could listen 20 more times and not get bored.
All of the 12 songs on this collection are really solid. That includes the writing, vocals, instrumentation, production, and mix. I guess you can call this “prog rock” if you want. I don’t consider this prog because their songs are not 15 minutes long with multiple parts. Their songs clock in at around four minutes each, not exactly what would be considered prog. But, Crack The Sky’s music definitely contains those chord progressions and transitions that would identify this as prog. They are not easy to define because their music is all encompassing and draws from many influences.
If I have to pick a favorite track right out of the gate, I would have to pick I’m On The Radio, Mom (Track 7). This song is catchy as hell and is about the first time the band heard their song on the radio. It is infectious as all get out. Not only are the writing and vocals pristine, they add elements such as clapping and backing vocals that take this song from normal to off the charts. Just listen to that blazing guitar on this track. They are masters at taking unusual sounds and incorporating them into songs.
Let’s hold that last thought about using unusual sounds and melodies. It applies perfectly to the very next track Jacket (Track 8). This song has elements of electronic dance music and industrial. Crack The Sky are masters at synthesis and fusion. They could be the mad scientists of the music world. I mean that is the most complimentary way possible. Clearly, these guys push the envelope when it comes to crafting a song. This song proves that rule.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the beauty of the title track Living In Reverse (Track 2). This song is a quintessential pop song in the vein of the fab four. Yes, this sounds like it could have easily been a Beatles’ song. The three or four part harmonies is what makes this song incredibly special. The title is very appropriate and can apply to anyone. I often feel like I am living life in reverse. In fact, a good friend of mine regularly tell me that I am living life in reverse. To me, that means that life is getting better and more exciting as I age. That’s my takeaway.
In closing, I want to encourage any music fan to go out and buy this release. Then, start filling in your Crack The Sky Collection with their other 19 albums, starting from release one and working upward. You will be glad you took my advice. Your music collection and ears will thank me.