And Baltimore got it right with Crack The Sky.
“Crack the Sky is an American progressive rock band formed in Weirton, West Virginia in the early 1970s. In 1975, Rolling Stone declared their first album “debut album of the year”, and in 1978, Rolling Stone Record Guide compared them to Steely Dan; their first three albums charted on the Billboard 200. The band has never achieved great success outside the Baltimore area. Despite this, they continue to release albums and perform to a small but devoted fan base to this day.”
Consider me “small but devoted.” It was love at first listen and after seeing them play live in 1977, I was irretrievably hooked.
Crack The Sky combines thoughtful lyrics (some would say bitterly ironic) with high levels of musicianship and a tight live band.
Incredibly incompetent promotion limited their exposure in the pre-internet days. Records were shipped to cities where there was no air-play and vice-versa. The one place that had records available while radio stations were featuring them was, you guessed it, Baltimore. And Baltimore sure knew what to do with this talented band.
It’s worth YouTubing these guys. If you’d like to hear bass and drums isolated on one of their songs, find it here.
For more information about Crack the Sky, read Joab Jackson’s insightful article/interview from Baltimore’s City Paper.
Meanwhile, the YouTube link on this page shows Crack the Sky raising funds for a charity by playing a 2008 concert in someone’s basement. If you like progressive music at all, you’ll have a new friend in 12 minutes.
On a personal level, although this video is filled with poignant lyrics and incredible musicianship, my favorite part is the band’s reaction at 10:38. Fame may have eluded these guys, but seeing their happiness at the audience’s reaction is a moment of authentic joy. They’ve earned it.