Animal Notes/Safety in Numbers

Crack the Sky

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Animal Notes/Safety in Numbers Review

by Peter Kurtz

Crack the Sky's two most popular records, but they're quite different in sound, mainly because songwriter/vocalist John Palumbo left after Animal Notes for solo work. The vocals on Safety in Numbers were handled by guest singer Gary Lee Chappell. Also, the songs on Safety aren't as strong as on Animal Notes, although "Lighten Up McGraw" is one of the band's better tunes. This two-fer is worth it for Animal Notes alone, a superb collection of idiosyncratic observations by Palumbo. All of the songs display an imagination and caustic irony not unlike that by Becker/Fagen or Warren Zevon, and the music migrates from the Eastern drone of "Animal Skins" to the operatic rave-up "Rangers at Midnight." Palumbo would later use different musicians for his diverse Crack projects, but the musicians here sound like "crack" L.A. professionals rather than working-class rockers from eastern Ohio, and they supply crisp, flawless licks to Palumbo's crafty arrangements.

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