‘Tribes’ captures life as we are experiencing it at the start of 2021, it’s an entertaining spin from Crack The Sky without it being dragged down into pity and despair.
Written by: gdmonline
ARTIST: Crack The Sky
LABEL: Carry On Music
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
LINEUP: John Palumbo – lead vocals, guitar, keyboards * Rick Witkowski – lead guitar, ukelele, backing vocals * Dave DeMarco – bass, backing vocals * Glenn Workman – keyboards, backing vocals * Joey D’Amico – drums, backing vocals
TRACK LISTING: 01 Tribes * 02 Another Civil War * 03 Dear Leaders * 04 Blowing Up Detroit * 05 Quick * 06 Another Beautiful Day * 07 All My Innocence * 08 Drinking Myself Sober * 09 Stranger In A Strange Land * 10 We Don’t Know * 11 Alligator Man * 12 Boom Boom * 13 The Lost Boys
WEBLINKS: Site Link
For those of you thinking that this is some kind of comeback album from these vintage prog meets hard rock dinosaurs then you’ll be proved wrong. In fact, Crack The Sky have released eleven albums (two were reissues) since the year 2000, so they’ve been very prolific indeed.
The band membership has seen key personnel depart and return to the fold since 1975’s debut, but in the main, Palumbo, Witkowski and D’Amico have been the resident longstays, the latter two also spending time with AOR legends the B.E Taylor Group during the mid 80’s.
Well, as we write the review of this album on the day of its official release (Fri Jan 15th, 2021), the USA and the world is held in the grip of a social divide. It’s not a fight about politics, that’s just a smokescreen. It’s all about the battle for your sovereignty, your soul, your right to exist as a human being. Palumbo and his merry men have jumped on the soapbox and are expressing their views as music, while the rest of us rant and rage on social media.
Yes, it’s very brave for a band to get their point across by way of music, but because Crack The Sky have been around the block for more years than they care to admit, I’m fairly certain they couldn’t give a damn, whereas an industry newbie has a lot more to lose. Anyone remember the Dixie Chicks furore?
With songtitles like ‘Tribes’, ‘Another Civil War’ and the laser beam precision of ‘Dear Leaders’ you just know that Crack The Sky is on point. In fact, considering our global conflict has been dominating our hearts and minds for over six months, an album with this type of lyrical content is well overdue. Better than singing about chicks, booze and fast cars right?
‘Blowing Up Detroit’ is a rehash of the track from John Palumbo’s solo album of the same name from 1985. A fairly rocking tune I reckon. Moving on, there’s a brief string section interlude on ‘Quick’, the song overall not only sounds haunting but elegant too. Listen to that soaring guitar solo from Rick. It’s one of my favourites.
‘Another Beautiful Day’ is a sarcastic analysis of daily life in the here and now, you know the mantra: ‘same shit, different day’. It’s something most of us can relate to. The honky tonk piano at the end makes for good respite too. ‘All My Innocence’ is less about supposed prog or pure hard rock influences, it’s a throw down to classic rock though admittedly there’s not a lot of oomph in this track.
‘Drinking Myself Sober’ sounds like a song title out of the ZZ Top canon, but no, it’s Crack The Sky at their lyrical and caustic best. Again, it has a classic rock vibe throughout. There’s a modern musical strain filtering through ‘Stranger In A Strange Land’. John sounds like he is singing through a muted mike, it’s slightly offbeat without being overly quirky.
‘We Don’t Know’ is the current catch cry of many around the world as disinfo, fake news and censorship pervade our lives. Crack The Sky have jumped on it like a rodeo rider on a bucking bronco. ‘Alligator Man’ is a funky piece, and I’m sure it refers to someone in particular who wanders the clubs of New York (I’m guessing from the lyrics). Like the proverbial lounge lizard. Maybe I should ask John for clues.
I like the groovy sounds of ‘Boom Boom’, this one cruises along in midtempo mode, but is propelled by some tasty guitar riffs and some organ fills transplanted straight from the 70’s. Last track ‘The Lost Boys’ is an R&B infused affair, especially with all that horn work. My guess is: this song is about a working band that can no longer get out and play gigs due to the lockdown situation, and have to resort to assembling their music over the Internet. I could be wrong, but I did try and read between the lines (lyrics). The Zoom video below perhaps confirms my theory?
The album is long, at 63 minutes, so there is a lot to take in. It captures perfectly life as we are experiencing it at the start of 2021. John and the lads try and keep an entertaining spin on it without it bring dragged down into pity and despair. We’ll get through these troubling times one way or the other, and music can be a vehicle to help us reach the other side. Thank goodness for bands like Crack The Sky!
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[Mjf85maj] I’ve been a fan since I heard Safety In Numbers and they’ve never really had a dip in quality, even if a couple of their albums don’t resonate as much with me — thinking of Ostrich and Dogs From Japan. I’m not sure why they chose to revisit Blowing Up Detroit though. It’s a decent enough take on the song but I prefer the original.
[Gdazegod] Lol, some people still think BUD was a Charlie Sexton song (on his 1989 St album), even though it states that Palumbo was the original songwriter.
[Mjf85maj] It’s too bad that the BUD album isn’t available anywhere. I have a copy on CD that was poorly transferred from vinyl but I still play it a good bit. The original version of Drifting Back To Motown from that album beats the heck out of the version on Victim Of The Nightlife.