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Rocket Scientists - Earth Below And Sky Above CD (album) cover


Rocket Scientists


Symphonic Prog

3.99 | 14 ratings

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Dan Bobrowski
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Southern California prog group, the Rocket Scientists, attended the German Progressive Rock Festival in 1997. This disc is the record of that concert. The production value for a live disc is very high. The drums sound crisp. The Chapman Stick work plows through the undergrowth, loud and clear with presence you can feel. Don Schiff lays down some pretty complex stick figures all over the place. The Stick is a wonderfully diverse instrument and I'm happy to hear it in this context. The vocals are mixed well, though not the best voice in the business. McCrite's lead playing cuts cleanly into the limelight. The keyboards are front and center throughout. If you like keybaords, the Rocket Scientists' Erik Norlander MUST be on the list. He is phenomenal.

The disc covers selections from the first two RS releases, a touch of some Norlander solo material and two tracks featuring Norlanders wife, Lana Lane. In this setting Lane sounds a bit like Heart's Ann Wilson. Fine moments. She has a very melodic voice and blends well with McCrite's harmony lines on Stardust. I remember them covering this tune at the '04 Cal-Prog concert during Norlander's performance. All the instrumental pieces shine brightly. Norlander has a great sense of melody and cranks 'em out with finnesse. McCrite's voice actually sounds better live, a little sharper and with a bit more power then on the studio releases. His live guitar has a bit of the Fripp distortion and sustain. He does not play like Fripp however, much more reserved, without any pyrotechnics. Simply competent. The Fall of Icarus is the highlight of McCrite's contribution vocally. I love the lyrics and their message, the dangers of overstepping your limits. Both fantasy and reality interspersed. The instrumental passage shines. I'm glad I found this tune, it has jumped into my favorites block.

Drummer Tommy Amato is a solid musician, handling the changes effortlessly, never overplaying and keeping the pocket locked in. Don Schiff would get more space if I were mixing. Just hearing the stick fills here and there perks up my attention. I find that instrument so totally fascinating and under-represented. Millenium 3 gives Schiff a chance to step out front and give Tony Levin a run for his money.

This is a quality modern prog band that should be heard. I would recommend them to any fans of classic prog, Spock's Beard, Glass Hammer, IZZ, Kansas... Solid 3 stars.

Dan Bobrowski | 3/5 |


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