Plying their trade in the fertile San Francisco scene of the late 60’s, Crystal Syphon’s name was only known to aficionados through viewing copies of old SF gig posters and through the index of bands at the back of Ralph Gleason’s book on the rise of Jefferson Airplane. Then both their studio and live 1967-1969 archival recordings were discovered that replaced the imagination with true grooves in 2012 & 2015 with the release of the 2 lps below on vinyl on Roaratorio Records. Trying to find comparison with other Bay area bands from that era has proven a bit fruitless as they don’t specifically evoke any of the heavy hitters of the era. They have a bit of a dreamy, stoned vibe with some great harmonies and some have compared their style to Quicksilver Messenger Service (John Cipollina was their idol!!) as well as H.P. Lovecraft. As with so many bands of the era, the draft, time and declining fortunes signaled the end of the band. There is some great guitar work alongside the Farfisa organ in the extended jams, and fans of the west-coast sound should delight in these recordings.
Sparked by spooky organ passages, ‘Jose & Fuzzy’ soon turns into a hard-hitting trip of acid-baked ecstasy before changing course again and melting into waves of mellowness. ‘Elephant Ball’ is a spellbinding instrumental dominated by the intoxicating interweaving of hypnotic keyboard and guitar notes, while ‘Have More Of Everything’ buzzes with brain-bending riffs, and ‘Paradise’ shimmers and swirls with psychedelic beauty, supported by a cast of feathery harmonies. On ‘Winter Is Cold’, Crystal Syphon crank the volume and power, resulting in a rocking ride of piercing bluesy guitar licks and penetrating rhythms.The collection also contains a selection of tracks taped live at the Fillmore West in San Francisco, such as the jazz flavored ‘There Is A Light There’ and the high energy gospel styled folk rock of ‘Don’t Fall Brother’. Clocking in at over an hour and a half in length, ‘Family Evil’/’Elephant Ball’ is required listening for fans of the freewheeling West Coast sounds of the sixties. Had these awesome songs been publicly available when they were originally produced, there is no question Crystal Syphon would have attained worldwide recognition.Beverly Paterson
The reissue tracks are: Disc 1: Family Evil1)Marcy, Your Eyes 2) Paradise 3) Have More Of Everything 4) Try Something Different 5) Fuzzy And Jose 6) ) Are You Dead Yet? 7) In My Mind 8) Family Evil + 9) Fails To Shine+ 10) Winter Is Cold+ 11) Winter Is Cold+++Total Time- 53:16
Disc 2- Elephant Ball1) Dawn Sermon 2) For All Of My Life 3) Tell Her For Me 4) Elephant Ball++ 5) Sing To Me++ 6) It’s Winter++ 7) Snow Falls++ 8) Don’t Fall Brother++ 9) There Is Light There++Total Time- 39:35
+ Live at The Fillmore West, 21 January, 1968
++ Live at Fillmore West, 18 November, 1969
+++ Recorded 2008
Available soon on Amazon