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Crack The Sky - Safety In Numbers - 21st Century Redux CD (album) cover


Crack The Sky

Heavy Prog

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Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars At last! Crack The Sky's best album actually played by Crack The Sky!

During the recording of the original album, band leader, singer, songwriter, musician John Palumbo had a falling out with the band over the direction they were going (too bad, I liked that direction). In the liner notes of this release, producer Rob Stevens expresses regret over not trying harder to keep the band together (so I guess we can blame "White Music" on him).

More recently Stevens and Palumbo have worked together on other musical projects, and have become good friends. Here, they have taken the original recordings, plus three tracks recorded for, but not used on the album, removed singer Gary Lee Chappel, added Palumbo on vocals, with some additional guitars and synth tracks, and remixed the whole thing.

The results are great! Particularly, the title track, "Safety In Number" sounds bigger, and more intricate. Palumbo's voice, a little rougher after thirty years, still sounds fine on the songs, and even though Chappel had a much cleaner sounding voice even back then, Palumbo adds more soul to the songs. Some of the harmony vocals have been removed, probably because they didn't fit with the way the new vocal tracks were laid down, but the songs are still great.

The additional guitar tracks are mostly unobtrusive, mixed very well with the original dual guitar attack. And in many cases the extra density adds to the power of the songs.

Palumbo changes the lyrics here and there, usually for the better, most notably in "Lighten Up McGraw", where the lyrics now really give McGraw a reason to lighten up.

The three additional tracks are all nice. "Atlantic City" is a calypso flavored tune about someone who lost everything at a casino. "Jungle Man Lonely" follows an island immigrant through Southern California, and is quite funny, and it has a nice prog style of changing rhythms & flavors in the middle section. "The Crying Father, Farmer From Idaho" is a prog ballad about a father about to lose his daughter to her boyfriend. While all three of these songs are good, it's easy to see why they were left off of the original album.

My only complaint is the song order. It appears that they were changed from the original, which had an extremely good flow, just for the sake of changing it. The album does not flow well from one song to the next. But still, the remix sounds great.

Report this review (#224838)
Posted Tuesday, July 7, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is quite an interesting cd, since it's essentially a re-recording of a classic album, except with new guitar parts, a nice remix, and John Palumbo's much grittier vocals added onto the mix.

I've often compared JP's vocals to Peter Gabriel's (even mentioned it to him once in an online chat), and this is definitely apparent on this recording. What makes this cd essential is not that they've rewritten history - but that they've provided an alternate, and quite superior, recording of one of the greatest albums in progressive rock.

This album is not without flaws. I much prefer the original lyrics to "Lighten Up", than to JP's rewrite. However, the vocals are much stronger, and give the album a "dark flow" that the original album lacked. I often felt that the original Safety In Numbers was the poppiest and most light sounding of all their records; that is erased here, where you hear an album that is extremely progressive, and at the same time, very heavy and gritty and rocky sounding.

The 3 additional tracks are also really essential. Atlantic City and Jungle Man Lonely were re-recorded and made much stronger than the original demos recorded in '79, found on the cd "Rare". While I do prefer the solo JP version of "The Crying Father" that appeared on his debut cd (Innocent Bystander, which is also an essential buy, for anybody looking for a great album), this version is also very, very good. A "band version" of a song that worked well as a solo piece.

Basically, this is an essential buy. If you've never heard of Crack The Sky...well, maybe you should get something else first, like their debut self titled, Animal Notes, White Music, or the new cd Machine. However, if you're a devoted Crack The Sky fan (like me!), this is an absolute and essential buy.

Report this review (#431386)
Posted Monday, April 11, 2011 | Review Permalink

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