Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Crystal Haze - Crystal Haze (1977)

Crystal Haze are mostly shrouded in mystery, however it is known that the band sprang from the Decatur, Illinois sometime in 1975. Basically comprised of high school friends, Crystal Haze tracked their sole album mostly live in the studio with vocal duties being split between the two guitarists, Greg Bickers and Dave Ellis. After a rather slipshod attempt at mixing, the album was pressed as is in extremely limited numbers. It is rumored that only 100 copies were ever pressed. Since the rather low-key release of their debut album, very little has ever been heard of Crystal Haze though it is believed the band continued to gig around the area for another year before dissolving. The band's post-split activities are murky, though Bickers is now fronting local band, The Hitmen in his hometown.

"Crystal Haze" is certainly one of the most elusive mid-70's recordings in existence, fetching insane prices in collector's circles. From a rarity perspective, I can certainly understand the fervor often raised by this album, given how rarely it ever surfaces. What about the music though? Well, let me just say that the fretwork is fantastic. Excellent guitar tones & fiery performances abound here. Overall, the musicianship is pretty solid considering how young the players were at the time. There's some cool dual guitar work here and there as well, which elevates the intensity another notch. Standouts include the opening instrumental, "Flame" as well as two of the mellower tracks, "In The Night" and "Goodnight".

If you are a sucker for homegrown lo-fi 70's rock, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by "Crystal Haze". Tough to peg and elusive as the Dodo, this album's legend is at least somewhat justified. Dig it...