The celebrated author, H.G. Wells once wrote: “The past is but a beginning of a beginning.” In pre-historic…dig!, the debut album by Skeleton Crew, Mr. Wells’ profundity becomes embodied in a musical testimonial that’s just that; original songs of far-reaching lyrical and musical depth, vivid panoramic imagery, and an arrangement strewn with the subtle haunting of a familiar friend.
Pre-historic…dig!, and its “power acoustic”-based sound bars any formal labeling and transcends musical typecasting. Songs such as: “callalili,” “in sympathy,” “kiss the world goodbye,” and “everything a man can bring” flirt with the band’s pop sensibilities. The country-tinged ballad “we ought to know better” takes a nod from Nashville, while “trumpeting soul” – aided by legendary trumpeter Johnny Trudell (Sinatra, Streisand, Motown) – pays homage to Louis Armstrong and New Orleans’ jazz. The ballad “sentimental” and the album’s epic finale “lost my way” round off the band’s eclectic leanings.
The late great Detroit Free Press feature writer Bob Talbert noted in a past column that: “pre-historic…dig! is one of the best albums I’ve heard in years. The group’s terrific harmony and brilliant musicianship on original songs bring to mind both the Eagles and The Beatles.” No surprise since Skeleton Crew’s inclusion of John Lennon’s “I’am The Walrus” may have contributed in the comparison to the later.
Nationally recognized music writer and recording artist in his own right, Stewart Francke (Detroit News, CD Review, The Boston Phoenix, Minneapolis City Pages, Detroit Metro Times), writes of pre-histoirc…dig!: It’s certainly the most melodically sophisticated and emotionally comprehensive statement in recent memory.” Francke goes on to say that: “Like other most capable pop miniaturists (Jimmy Webb, Roy Orbison, Paul McCartney), Skeleton Crew writes songs rich in both romantic possibility and quotidian detail.”
To purchase the digital album or individual songs from “pre-historic…dig!” click on our Amazon.com Store link: http://www.amazon.com/Skeleton-Crew/e/B002NV0FFO/ref=ntt_dp_epwcd_0
Skeleton Crew was commissioned in 1998 to write a song to commemorate the birthday of Nikki Aguirre, the granddaughter of the late Detroit Tigers pitching great Hank Aguirre, by her mother Pam Aguirre. Under The Watersign (Nikki’s Song) is the en result.
The title and lyrics to the song are based on Nikki’s astrological “water sign” of Cancer and interviews with her mother, Pam, about aspects of Nikki’s personality and life. A poem Nikki wrote is incorporated into the orchestral bridge and was recited by Shaylene, the then 10-year old daughter of our producer at the time, Gary Spaniola. The recording also features very special guest musician/artist, Rich Nelson.
The song was pressed into a CD and distributed to family, friends and guests at a beautiful backyard party for Nikki’s birthday. Needless to say Nikki was very surprised when we unveiled the finished song in form of her invited guests. A very moving experience.
In addition to the full-length version of Under The Watersign, the EP also features a full-length instrumental version and a shorter “Radio Edit.” The EP was released in digital format by the Skeleton Crew Music in December of 2009. It is currently available from Amazon.com and Nimbit.com.
The recording sessions for “Faith,” Skeleton Crew’s contribution to the Christmas in Detroit 3 project, began on 09/09/09. There was a palpable energy and vibe in the air that was felt by everyone involved.
We had the pleasure of working with Grammy Award winning record producer, Mark Pastoria, and Pastor Henry Covington who brought in the choir we incorporated for backing vocals on the “Faith” recording. Pastor Henry is featured in Mitch Albom’s new book, “Have a Little Faith.” The choir was both inspirational and perfect for this song; they weren’t professional singers, but a group made up of diverse individuals who in some way or another ran into varying degrees of hard luck in their lives. These beautiful individuals, with the help of Pastor Henry and others, have managed to turn their lives around for the better. They have gone on to help and inspire others.
It was during the subsequent recording session to record this choir of hope that we had the pleasure of enjoying a break from recording to talk to one of the choir members. During our conversation about the overall recording experience, the topic returned to the song “Faith” and its meaning.
It was at this moment that the individual we were speaking with offered to share a story that moved us deeply and one we will never forget. The choir member revealed that there was a time in the not-so-distant past where they had slept in a cardboard box outside of the very recording studio in which we were working.
This candid individual lived to party and often frequented Lola’s, the nightclub that occupied the first floor of the building that housed Harmony Park Studios, located in the newly revitalized Harmonie Park area of Detroit. This person eventually dug down deep for the courage and pulled themselves up and got their life moving in a positive direction through the help of people like Pastor Henry and others.
Then came the point in our conversation where this individual told us that they were about to leave the mission that helped them get their life in order and where they worked helping others. This person did not share with us whether they were leaving to become the denizen of despair they fought so hard to conquer or if they were leaving to pursue other opportunities.
It was at the time the choir member was about to announce their departure from the mission when Brian, the talented choir director, handed this person the lyrics to our song, “Faith.” They had not heard a note of the music nor had they ever heard of the band Skeleton Crew before. The choir member told us that immediately after reading the lyrics they were so moved they changed their mind and decided right then and there not to leave. The lyrics moved this person so much they felt this was their reason to stay on at the mission and continue helping others. Speechless and holding back tears we thanked this individual for sharing their very personal story with us.
The reward for writing and recording “Faith” has exceeded even our greatest expectations. To have a song like “Faith” or something you’ve created affect someone so much to the point it alters their life course and steers them in a positive direction is priceless and worth every effort in its production.
Skeleton Crew also contributed original songs to the first installment of Christmas in Detroit in 1992 and Christmas in Detroit, Too! two years later. Christmas in Detroit featured “Nam Myoho Rengé Kyo” and Christmas in Detroit, Too! featured “Mary Christmas Was Her Name.”
Skeleton Crew would like to thank Brian and Mark Pastoria for generously inviting us to participate in this incredible musical journey. We would also like to thank our engineer Alan Tishk and everyone at Harmonie Park Studios for making this one of the most memorable recording experiences of our career. Here’s to working together again soon and Merry Christmas to all!
peace & love ~Skeleton Crew®
PS: Help the homeless in Detroit by purchasing Christmas in Detroit 3. Learn everything at: