Crack the Sky: Variety for the albums, familiar songs for the shows | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Crack the Sky: Variety for the albums, familiar songs for the shows

“I try to change things with every album.”

Crack the Sky
Crack the Sky

The landscape of pop history is littered with one-and-done acts, artists whose first album — no matter how good it might have been — failed or was lost in the commercial marketplace. Nearly all of these groups fade into obscurity, never to make an album again. Crack the Sky doesn’t fit into this particular narrative, though. In 1975, Rolling Stone named Crack the Sky’s first record “debut album of the year.” And then … nothing happened.

Because of the group’s record label’s distribution conflicts, many potential fans couldn’t find its albums, even if they knew to seek them out. As a result, Crack the Sky never got the national-level exposure it deserved. 

But the progressive-rock band, led by guitarist and songwriter John Palumbo, persevered. 

“I hate looking back,” Palumbo tells CP in a phone interview. Instead, he and his bandmates focused on making high-energy and adventurous music for themselves, and for the band’s small yet ardent fanbase.

Today, Crack the Sky uses social media to connect with listeners in a way that it couldn’t have back in the early days. “It’s amazing how social media has shrunk the world,” Palumbo says. “Our music gets out to a whole lot more people now.”

Since 1975, Crack the Sky has released more than 25 albums. Many have been released on the band’s own label, Aluminum Cat Recordings. While most bands splinter within a few years, the 2017 version of Crack the Sky features three of its original members. Asked to reveal the secret to keeping a lineup together for such a long time, Palumbo chuckles and admits, “We don’t play that often!” 

As driven as Palumbo is to create new music, he’s responsive to what live audiences want. “We do what people want to hear; we’re there to entertain,” he says. So while the band might preview a track or two from the upcoming album, he says Crack the Sky’s live set features “the songs people know and have grown to appreciate.” Palumbo is straightforward when he tells what people coming to the show can expect: “Two-and-a-half hours of rock ’n’ roll.”

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