CRACK THE SKY
West Virginians’ anthology of re-recorded career highlights goes down a storm.
The American progressive rock scene presents a conundrum. Prog’s biggest bands enjoyed enormous success Stateside in the 1970s and the pulling power of many endures to this day: just this summer saw the Steve Howe incarnation of Yes play over 30 dates nationwide from coast to coast. However, it’s almost exclusively British prog bands that have drawn the US crowds. Sure, the USA can boast some notable progressive acts – Kansas, Echolyn and Spock’s Beard to name just three – but none beyond the prog metal arena that have come anywhere close to enjoying the continuing global popularity of their British counterparts. For a country whose population dwarfs the UK’s by a factor of five, it all seems a bit disproportionate.
There remain plenty of American prog bands toiling away largely under the radar. Foremost among them are West Virginians Crack The Sky, who have been plugging away since the mid-1970s. While their 1975 debut album earned high praise from Rolling Stone – who subsequently included it in their Greatest 50 Prog Rock Albums Of All Time list – and the band toured hard, supporting the likes of Styx,
Rush, Yes and Kansas, breaking through into the big time somehow eluded them. That they continue today with this 12-track retrospective of re-recorded songs from throughout their career probably represents a victory for perseverance over commercial logic.
Crackology is an absolute triumph. In the main, CTS’ material has aged pretty well and the re-recording here of Hold On/Surf City is positively incendiary. Musically, CTS cover numerous bases – one minute there’s the meat-andpotatoes rock’n’roll of She’s A Dancer, the next the acoustic honky tonk whimsy of Robots For Ronnie.
For the unacquainted, Crackology is a first-rate introduction to CTS. And as solid proof that they aren’t soldiering on purely reliant on old material, the band have also released an adventurous new album, Living In Reverse, in parallel with this collection.