ROCKET SCIENTISTS RELEASE LIVE CD FROM 1997 EURO TOUR
"Earth Below and Sky Above" encompasses performances from two continents
(Los Angeles, California 2 June 1998) Following their first European tour in the Autumn of 1997, the Los Angeles progressive rock quartet Rocket Scientists announce their release of the 73:49 long live disc, EARTH BELOW AND SKY ABOVE: LIVE IN EUROPE AND AMERICA. Tracks for the album were recorded at the 1997 German Progressive Rock Festival in Bruchsal, Germany and also during a private showcase at the industry standard 3E in North Hollywood, California. EARTH BELOW AND SKY ABOVE contains stunning live performances of 11 classic songs from Rocket Scientists' first two albums, EARTHBOUND and BRUTAL ARCHITECTURE, as well as a medley of two songs from keyboardist Erik Norlander's critically acclaimed THRESHOLD album captured in a rare performance with the Rocket Scientists band.
The atmospheric opener, "Dark Water Part One", harkens back to the sprawling space epics of the 1970's such as Pink Floyd's "Shine On You Crazy Diamond". Unlike the studio version from BRUTAL ARCHITECTURE, the live version of this track features the emotional guitar melody of Mark McCrite trading off ethereal riffs with the lush synthesizers of Erik Norlander. "Dark Water Part One" segues seamlessly into the title track from the Rocket Scientists debut album, EARTHBOUND. In true epic form, the band reprises the "Dark Water" theme during one of the breakdowns in "Earthbound", creating a far away nebula of melody, timbre and texture. Following "Earthbound" is the BRUTAL ARCHITECTURE classic, "Wake Me Up", which has often been described as the perfect cross between The Beatles and King Crimson. The acrobatic progressive intro undulates with the hyper - pyrotechnics of drummer Tommy Amato and Chapman Stick figure Don Schiff. Just when it seems like the band reaches the outer limits of energy, rhythm and harmony, add to this the fury of a cutting Moog synthesizer solo from Erik Norlander over the top of the whole track. McCrite's McCartney-esque vocals bring the song into a more melodic vein, only to swept away again by a long progressive middle section and McCrite guitar solo.
There is a paradoxical contrast between the first two Rocket Scientists studio albums. EARTHBOUND is a more commercial, studio - oriented disc, while BRUTAL ARCHITECTURE is clearly a progressive band effort. Following "Wake Me Up", the BRUTAL ARCHITECTURE band pushes the progressive element in Rocket Scientists even further with what they call the "Prog Medley". The "Prog Medley" begins and ends with the angular introductory polyrhythm to the song "Brutal Architecture", and contains in its innards the most progressive piece from EARTHBOUND, the 56 - second instrumental, "Pythagoras", along with its BRUTAL ARCHITECTURE counterpart, "Copernicus". This medley illustrates that Rocket Scientists clearly know how to live in the prog world.
And while the prog train is rolling, the band continues the album with the seafaring epic, "Mariner". "Mariner" comes alive on EARTH BELOW AND SKY ABOVE with McCrite's lead guitar filling the Bruchsal hall like a warm cloud's summer rain. Norlander's spacious Mellotron string work on the track expands the mysterious mood for this deep colossus. Norlander's edgy vocals on the song contrast with McCrite's more pure vocal tone from "Wake Me Up" and the rest of the set.
Following "Mariner" is the unique performance of the "Threshold Medley", where Rocket Scientists execute two songs from Erik Norlander's THRESHOLD album. This gargantuan keyboard tour - de - force gains new dimension from the addition of McCrite's guitar and changes shape from the studio album with Tommy Amato's aerobic drumming. The band starts with the THRESHOLD opener, "Neurosaur", with what Keith Emerson referred to in the THRESHOLD liner notes as a "menacing minor riff". After navigating through numerous time signatures, "Neurosaur" migrates into the THRESHOLD finale, "Critical Mass", with its regal pipe organ figures and symphonic piano chorale.
Instead of giving Norlander a well - deserved break, the band completes "Critical Mass" and dives right into the BRUTAL ARCHITECTURE fable, "The Fall of Icarus". McCrite's pure, fireside vocals return as he tells the story of the ill - fated flyer set against the canvas of the famous Brueghel painting. The middle of "The Fall of Icarus" again sets keyboardist Norlander in motion with several acrobatic passages of world - class piano runs, patterns, arpeggios, riffs and figures.
A special bonus on "Earth Below and Sky Above" comes next with the guest performance of symphonic rock vocalist Lana Lane. Lane accompanied the band on their European tour performing several songs both of her own and of Rocket Scientists. Presented on EARTH BELOW AND SKY ABOVE are two tracks with Lana Lane. The first is the moody "Avalon" from EARTHBOUND, extended from the studio version with more guitar solo time and additional Hammond organ parts. "Avalon" was such a success on this tour that it has now become a standard component in Lana Lane's own live set. The second Rocket Scientists / Lana Lane song is the spacious ballad, "Stardust", which was released in Japan as a bonus track to BRUTAL ARCHITECTURE and then later in Europe on the EMPIRE MUSIC ART ROCK COLLECTION VOLUME ONE. The live version of "Stardust" displays the incredible blending of vocalists Lane and McCrite as they trade verses and choruses in a show of symphonic majesty.
Following "Stardust" is the melodic EARTHBOUND favorite, "Picture Show", driven by McCrite's strumming guitar and powered by the rhythm engine of Schiff and Amato. New ethereal synthesizer chords immerse the Brucshal audience in a sea of sound and color. The vocal harmony between McCrite and Norlander is particularly rich on "Picture Show" as the energy of the live audience raises the intensity of this performance.
Closing the live set is the song from where the name of the live album comes, "Millennium 3". Beginning with a sparse Stick and drum groove, McCrite and Norlander add on elements one piece at a time until Schiff adds the final and most unexpected piece, which is a slide - Stick theme over the top of the track. "Millennium 3" builds to the progressive bridge, where McCrite's E-Bow guitar weaves intrically around the daunting Norlander / Schiff clav and Stick polyrhythmic groove. The tracks ends the show with a classic rock vocal "Na Na" section that conjurs The Beatles "Hey Jude", but this time with a progressive twist.
Rocket Scientists return to the stage with an encore performance of the resiliently powerful "Calm Before the Storm" from EARTHBOUND. The studio slickness of the EARTHBOUND version gives way in the Bruchsal hall to a hard rocking anthem pushed to the walls by the Schiff / Amato rhythm section. Lush vocals from McCrite and Norlander cascade over the top of the song as they alternate lead and harmony parts throughout the different sections. After the high voltage bridge, Norlander tears into a powerhouse Hammond organ solo expanded for the the live rendition. At the end, the band breaks down into a dangerously sparse round of two part harmony vocals and Chapman Stick tapping, concluding the concert with the highly relavent acapella lyric, "This will be our finest hour".
From the clubs of Los Angeles to the halls of Europe, Rocket Scientists offers a true state of the band address in EARTH BELOW AND SKY ABOVE. Free from the limitations and restrictions of the studio walls, Rocket Scientists take their music to the people and deliver and unforgettable performance that captures the true essence of the band, the members and their music. It is a performance not to be missed.
ROCKET SCIENTISTS • EARTH BELOW AND SKY ABOVE: Live in
Europe and America
CD tracking listing
Dark Water Part One
Wake Me Up
i. Brutal Architecture | ii. Pythagoras | iii. Copernicus | iv. Brutal Architecture Reprise
i. Neurosaur | ii. Critical Mass
The Fall of Icarus
Avalon (with Lana Lane)
Stardust (with Lana Lane)
Calm Before the Storm
total running time . . . 73:49 (whew!)
Produced by Mark McCrite for Think Tank Media