The Mystic Astrologic Crystal Band — “Flowers Never Cry”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — April 7, 2023


788) The Mystic Astrologic Crystal Band — “Flowers Never Cry”

’67 A-side is L.A. psych/sunshine/baroque pop heaven from the band’s first album The Mystic Astrologic Crystal Band Featuring Steve Hoffman.

Man, people either love or hate this band. In the former category, Albeth Paris writes in the LP’s original liner notes that:

[The band] was wholly conceived in [Steve Hoffman’s] own mind originally . . . and then brought to fruition after many months of auditioning, rehearsing  and recording!! . . . Hoffman . . . was discovered by his Manager and Producer, Clancy B. Grass III, in a little known teen-age club in West Covina [California] . . . . [H]e simply walked up to Mr. Grass and said. “I write great songs and you have got to listen to them!”  It only took one song to prove that here was a potential “giant” as far as the recording industry was concerned, and from that point on the two of them have worked together to create this album!! . . . [T]he consensus of opinion has been that this group has all the qualifications necessary to become the largest, most successful group ever to come from the U.S.A. In fact, it has been suggested that The MYSTIC, ASTROLOGIC, CRYSTAL BAND could be the “heir apparent” to the throne currently held by The Beatles!!! A very big statement, but listen to STEVE’S songs, hear what he has to say and how the band says it, pay attention to the musicianship of the group and then you too will be saying “Why couldn’t they?”… [C]ontained herein are the greatest sounds ever to be put together by an American group for more  than five or six years!!!

Wait, too over the top, was this a prank? No, Albeth was not only a real person, she was a member of the Paris Sisters!

Now, let’s move to the dismissive side. Richie Unterberger, the master of the put-down, writes that:

A third-tier late-’60s L.A. psychedelic outfit, the Mystic Astrologic Crystal Band were not as weird as their name indicated. They were, more to the point, as trendy as their name led one to believe, recording common-denominator psychedelic pop . . . that emulated much of the form, but delivered little in the way of lasting content.  Steve Hoffman wrote all of the group’s material, which largely consisted of passable emulations of the Association, the Seeds, and much of the L.A. psychedelic pop that fell between these extremes. Their sound is so anonymous, in fact, that one suspects they were only playing psychedelic music because it was fashionable — if it were 12 years later, they may have opted to wear skinny ties and sound like the Knack instead. Perhaps that’s too harsh an assessment, but there’s not much to put your back against on their albums, despite their status as collector’s items.

Stressing the lighter, sunnier side of the L.A. psychedelic sound (with occasional Seedsish bits), it’s well-produced, and full of the requisite bright harmonies and occasional spacy effects. But there’s so little that grabs your attention that it sometimes sounds like one of those anonymous bands that recorded soundtrack material for late-’60s hippie exploitation films.,

Hey, Richie, I love those late-’60s hippie exploitation flick soundtracks!

Edward Dunbar piles on:

Their eagerness to adopt such a myriad of styles is akin to shifting through a record store’s bargain bin — gems are far and few between. . . . Hoffman fails to elevate the music beyond mere imitation while relying too heavily on sounds that were probably already considered cliché back then. Hoffman could write a catchy tune, but the utter lack of originality is increasingly obvious throughout the album’s short run time. . . . this is the sound of a band dreaming of a psychedelic odyssey while facing the reality of their own limited creativity.

Hoffman was later to be the musical mastermind behind the Saturday morning The Monkees (with real chimpanzees) meet Get Smart TV series Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp. ( The resulting album Lancelot Link and the Evolution Revolution actually has some really cool songs! Maybe Albeth was right!

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