The San Francisco ballroom scene of the mid- to late-60s produced some genuinely legendary groups — Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service and Moby Grape among them. But for every band that went onto stardom, there were dozens of other outfits that never hit the big time, who simply became names on posters for shows at the Fillmore. For decades, Crystal Syphon has been one of those names. But thanks to a recent release on Roaratorio Records, the group finally emerges from the mist — and they’re better than anyone could have expected.

Made up of studio, live and rehearsal recordings cut between 1967 and 1970, Family Evil is a “lost masterpiece” that actually lives up to the hype — an LP that deserves a space next to the other classics of the era on your shelf — Quicksilver’s Happy Trails, the Dead’s Anthem of the Sun, the Airplane’s Bathing at Baxter’s and the first Moby Grape release. The Grape might be the closest comparison sonically, but Crystal Syphon mines an altogether darker vein on the ten tracks here, with doomy organ work, minor key melodies and tortured fuzz guitar. The band is tight and uptight, with lyrics to match. Bad trips abound! In a good way. The live stuff that closes out the LP, recorded at the Fillmore West, suggests that they brought the goods to the stage as well. There are hints that Family Evil is just the tip of the Crystal Syphon archive iceberg. Let’s hope so. words/ t wilcox

MP3: Crystal Syphon :: Fuzzy And Jose

9 Responses to “Crystal Syphon :: Family Evil”

  1. Thanks for posting this. I love finding this lesser known stuff. This is really a great record. It’s also available at Itunes!

  2. Great call on this. Picked it up too. Too cool.

  3. These guys are amazingly dark and original. When I first heard their sound, I flashed back to the smoky haze of the Fillmore circa late sixties. This band didn’t just open for big-time groups like the Doors — they were the headliners! Treat yourself to some truly trippy music.

  4. The album cover art looks to be from the hand of the great psych artist Rick Griffin.

  5. Sloop Jon F, were you there at the Fillmore when we played? If so, I’d like to discuss that with you. Third Axis, the cover was done by San Francisco artist Norman Orr. Thank you all for the reviews !

  6. Thanks for your response, Dave. Great cover, btw. And this is indeed an unsung classic record, one which I was unaware of until now. Hope your band receives its due after all these years, and that this record reaches the listeners it deserves. Are there possibly more recordings in your possession that may see the light of day?

    Be well, and thanks again*

  7. Here’s a great link to info on Crystal Syphon, and also some examples of the fine concert poster art of Norman Orr elsewhere on the site:

    http://mercedmusic.wordpress.com/crystal-syphon/

  8. Along with Dave Sprinkel and the rest of the Crystal Syphon, thank you for the great review…and truly, thank you for listening! The band has a few other vintage recordings that need to be dressed up a bit prior to release, and we are rehearsing for live shows in the near future. Rock ON!

  9. Third Axis, thanks again for your comments and support ! There may be some new recordings coming out in the near future thanks to your interest !
    Dave

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