Rarely do I agree with anything in Rolling Stone magazine. Sorry, but that’s the fact, Jack. But, when they awarded Crack The Sky’s 1975 debut Album of the Year, they nailed it! Sadly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the album also was the least sold ever bearing that critical distinction.
Ever since needle touched vinyl, various artists from every era and genre have somehow slipped through the cracks and into obscurity. Whether due to poor management, bad luck, or, perhaps, merely being ahead of their time, many bands never got their just due. CTS are one such band.
I first heard CTS while a junior in high school in 1976. A good friend of mine with, admittedly, a wider range of musical taste than I, turned me on their first two albums. I’ve been a fan ever since.
CTS is that rare entity difficult to classify. Is it pop? By definition, it can’t be- it was never popular! But, it does possess essentially everything necessary in that category- nuance, harmony, and infectious melodies perfectly balanced with stellar production. Perhaps its intricate time changes and poignant, reflective lyrics were just too daring for the masses to consume!
With all due respect to the rest of the band, CTS is the brainchild of lead vocalist/keyboardist/ guitarist, John Palumbo. Without Palumbo, who wrote and composed every song on the album, there is no CTS! I don’t often throw the term “genius” around, but Palumbo is clearly in the team photo.
For reasons perhaps only I can answer, CTS is the type of album, and band, to be honest, I like to listen to alone. Parts of it are that compelling. Not to mention the fact I really don’t know any other CTS fans, and my headbanger friends would revoke my heavy metal union card before the first track finished!
Standout tracks include “Hold On,” “Surf City,” “Robots For Ronnie,” “Ice,” and “Sleep.”
If I had to sum up this album or, indeed, the entire CTS discography, it would be “cerebral rock.” But don’t let that scare you- there are still plenty of riffs to go around to keep the rockers satisfied!
- “Hold On” 3:00
- “Surf City” 3:54
- “A Sea Epic” 6:33
- “She’s a Dancer” 3:54
- “Robots for Ronnie” 4:39
- “Ice” 4:36
- “Mind Baby” 4:32
- “I Don’t Have a Tie” 3:04
- “Sleep” 7:48
Crack The Sky
- John Palumbo — Lead vocals, keyboards, guitar
- Rick Witkowski — Lead guitar, percussion
- Joe Macre — Bass guitar, back-up vocals
- Jim Griffiths — Lead guitar, back-up vocals
- Joey D’Amico — Drums, back-up vocals
- Michael Brecker — Horns (“She’s a Dancer”, “Mind Baby”)
- Randy Brecker — Horns (“She’s a Dancer”, “Mind Baby”)
- David Sanborn — Horns (“She’s a Dancer”, “Mind Baby”)
- George Marge — Woodwinds (“Robots for Ronnie”, “Sleep”, “A Sea Epic”)
- Tom Jones — Trombone (“Sleep”)