This White Hot Stamper pressing of the first and best album by the legendary-but-now-mostly-forgotten American Prog band Crack The Sky shows just how amazingly well recorded their debut really was.
This is Big Production rock that pulls out all the stops and then some, with a massive Beatlesque string section, horns, synths, backward guitars and every other kind of studio effect that they could work out.
Much like Ambrosia’s debut (another unknown band on a small label), such an ambitious project was clearly an effort to make a Grand Musical Statement along the lines of Sgt. Pepper, Crime of the Century, Close to the Edge, The Original Soundtrack and Dark Side of the Moon, all albums I suspect this band revered, having played them countless times.
In the ’70s I was a huge fan of those albums too. (Still am of course; check out our Top 100 if you don’t believe me. They’re all in there.) I played them more times than I can remember, with Crack The Sky’s albums spending plenty of time — heavy rotation you could say — on the turntable in those days. To my mind, speaking as a fan and an audiophile, the first Crack the Sky album succeeds brilliantly on every level: production, originality, songwriting, technical virtuosity, musical consistency and, perhaps most importantly for those of you who have managed to make it this far, Top Quality Audiophile Sound.
This is simply a great album of adventurous, highly melodic proggy rock. If you like the well known bands that made the classic albums cited above, there’s a very good chance you will like this much less well known band’s first album also.
Especially if you have the taste for something different — I know of no other album quite like it. It may have been strongly influenced by many of the ’70s Classics of both Prog and Art Rock, but it is absolutely stylistically unique. Sui Generis would be the fancy name for it.
Sides One and Two
Side two had White Hot Stamper sound, earning the full Three Pluses (A+++). No other side two could touch it. It had the most ENERGY and was JUMPING OUT of the speakers like no other copy we played that day, so open and undistorted too. At the levels it was playing it was nothing less than a thrill to hear the album I’d known for so long sound so good.
Side one was very good but no match for side two. It did not have the tubey magic of the best copies and the vocals were prone to hardness when loud. We gave it a grade of A Plus; the guitars are huge and the tonal balance is pretty much right on the money. As good as side one sounds, you will see just how amazing the album can be when you drop the needle on this side two. It is out of this world!
Rolling Stone Album of the Year?
Can that really be? How come I never heard of it you ask. According to many web sites this is indeed true, but the actual award that RS bestowed upon it is quite a bit less extravagant — they called it “the debut album of the year” in 1975. I think we should all be more than satisfied with that. I’m glad to see that AMG gave it 4 1/2 Stars and recommended it highly. We second that recommendation and might even go so far as to award it Five Star status.
A Sea Epic
She’s a Dancer
Robots for Ronnie
I Don’t Have a Tie
AMG 4 1/2 Star Rave Review!
The astonishing success of Crack the Sky’s eponymous first album raised expectations that the band was never able to fulfill for the rest of their career. Critics and audiences alike delighted in the wry, intelligent lyrics, complex and powerful progressive rock, and carefully crafted harmonies… Rolling Stone’s designation of Crack the Sky as “Album of the Year” for 1975 helped did as much as anything the record company did, and in retrospect their award was well-deserved. The album still holds up very well, especially the delirious “A Sea Epic,” one of the rare examples of a driving and complex progressive rock song with a really good sense of humor… Highly recommended.