[an error occurred while processing this directive] [an error occurred while processing this directive]

Rocket Scientists Looking Backward Box Set: performance DVD and 4 CDs

featuring Don Schiff on Stick and NS/Stick
from Think Tank Media - box set: $45

Most of us know Don Schiff for his incredible solo performances and recordings featuring the Stick and NS/Stick. But Don has made a name for himself in the progressive rock world performing with Lana Lane, and with the Erik Norlander - guided project, Rocket Scientists. Norlander is a keyboardist extraordinaire, and has a powerful solar presence in the group, but Don and singer/guitarist Mark McCrite are orbiting giants, along with drummers Tommy Amato and Greg Ellis who performed with the band on different releases. The band's chemistry has grown more complex and magical over time, and now we listeners have an opportunity to follow that evolution in an unusual way.

Rocket Scientists has just released a 5 disc retrospective, which includes 3 remastered CDs, a new audio CD (The 2007 Sessions) and a full-length studio performance DVD from those new sessions called Looking Backward. This compilation provides a complete picture of the band's evolution from 1993's Earthbound to the present.

For those not familiar with the Rocket Scientists' music, it falls decidedly on the rock side of Progressive music, with songs arrangements focusing more on depth than on "intricacy." Yes, there are the big symphonic arrangements and rapid-fire analogue synth solos that you would expect for this lineup, but there's also a great driving rock core to the rhythm section, ably and creatively anchored by Don's masterful Stick and NS/Stick playing.

The first CD, The 2007 Sessions, contains ten newly recorded versions of earlier songs, plus three tracks of remixes from earlier discs, performed by the core trio of Don, Erik and Mark, with most of the drumming from Greg Ellis, the drummer from the Oblivion Days sessions. Greg is also the drummer/percussionist on Don Schiff's 2005 prog rock solo album, Peering Over Clouds. Guest performers on this disc include Gregg Bissonette on drums, and Lana Lane on vocals. The 2007 Sessions were filmed, and make up the bulk of the studio performance DVD, which features 102 minutes of music along with some short interview segments with the band.

video screenshot
Looking Backward
Don Schiff, 1993
"Candid Studio Footage"
Don and Emmett, 2007
"An Afternoon with
Emmett Chapman

Then, "looking backwards" in time are three releases from the 1990s, remastered for this box set, Oblivion Days (1999, disc 2), Brutal Architecture (1995, disc 3) and Earthbound (1993, disc 4), discs 3 and 4 with Tommy Amato on Drums. Fortunately, there was a lot of informal video shot during these recording sessions, (more about that below).

There are two bonus videos on the DVD that will be of particular interest to Stick players and fans.

"An Afternoon with Emmett Chapman" (2007, 25 minutes) finds Don and Emmett having an informal conversation about Don's early years with The Stick, as well as some solo and duo performances and demonstrations by both Don and Emmett. Don is up to his usual amusing self, and it's a treat to get a glimpse into the friendship that he and Emmett have developed over the years.

The 21 minute "Candid Studio Footage" video has great clips of the recording sessions from all of the CDs in the compilation, including lots of segments of Don in action. It's a fascinating glimpse into the studio process from the perspectives of the various band members.

In addition to the five discs, the package comes with a 64-page booklet with lyrics and extensive liner notes from the band about what they were doing on the individual tracks.

If you're new to the band, you couldn't ask for a better introduction, and if you're already a fan, especially of Don's work, then the new tracks, the video, all the bonus material makes this a must-have.

You can find out more about the band at:

all images © 2007 Think Tank Media

"Pythagoras (Unbound)"
From the Looking Backward DVD

[an error occurred while processing this directive] [an error occurred while processing this directive]