Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Crack the Sky

  • Crack the Sky [Lifesong, 1975] B-
  • Animal Notes [Lifesong, 1976] B

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Crack the Sky [Lifesong, 1975]
After too many legends of Atlantis and concept albums about the last cowboy, I was impressed to come upon John Palumbo, who can end one of his existentialist fables "Being is my . . . life" and make it sound like an aperçu. But in the end the words ("Robots for Ronnie," "A Sea Epic") are brittle, while Palumbo's dense modal structures (and Rick Witkowski's guitar inventions) have real tensile strength. Mannered, sure--so's Big Star. Slick, sure--hmm. B-

Animal Notes [Lifesong, 1976]
"We Want Mine," a jarring little rocker about Third World deprivation, and "Animal Skins," which quotes George Harrison as it salvages every religious leader who's ever lived, convinced me for a while that the rest of this systematically disjoint music flowed and crackled appropriately. But for the most part the melodies of these art-pop set pieces don't live up to the harmonies; their premeditated shifts recall late Beatles when they work and middle Uriah Heep when they don't. I still prefer songs about Mounties to songs about centaurs. But I also prefer Mountie songs that keep galloping when the lyrical conceit gets boring, which it does. B