QUICKSILVER MESSENGER SERVICE
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Andy Slater <email@example.com> (10.06.2003)
It is true that Quicksilver released their first album late in '68, but that doesn't mean the band was late-arriving on the scene. They were one of the original Haight-Ashbury hippie bands, along with the Dead, the Airplane, and Big Brother. Their pedigree is unassailable: they formed at the first Bill Graham Mime-Troupe benefit, and began playing at the Fillmore and the Avalon in early '66. According to Barney Hoskyns' Beneath the Diamond Sky: Haight-Ashbury 1965-70, "By early '66 the QMS were living in a shack in Larkspur and being managed by one Ambrose Hollingsworth, who ran a school of psychic magic up in Petaluma. The shack instantly became a den of dexedrine ingestion and sexual iniquity, a sanctuary for runaway teen vixens like the girls who went on to marry Duncan and Freiberg. In spare moments they rehearsed Bo Diddley songs like 'Mona' and 'Who Do You Love' transforming them from choogling garage-band staples into the fully fledged acid jams they were playing at the Fillmore and the Avalon." Thus their acid-jamming didn't come late in the scene, only its album release did. On the whole, QMS doesn't have the same distinguishing traits as its contemporaries, but it's definitely worthy buying their albums because they were another great band from San Francisco.
Pat Shipp <firstname.lastname@example.org> (18.10.2003)
Guess what, George? John Cipollina is the greatest guitarist that ever lived. I know you're probably thinking "Give me a break" or somethin' like that. But see, you've never heard him play live (other than Happy Trails, which didn't even feature John at his best). John was one of those guitarists that had to be heard live to be appreciated. There's a Quicksilver compilation album called Lost Gold And Silver, which I STRONGLY suggest that you check out. It's a double CD, and the first one is a live performance from '68, in which the band performs UNCANNY versions of "Smokestack Lightning" and "The Fool". I guarantee that if you heard these two particular versions, you'd agree with me that John is the greatest. There are no words in the entire English language that can describe his playing on those two songs. There's also killer live versions of "Back Door Man" and "Gold And Silver", both of which feature awesome Cipollina licks. The version of "Back Door Man" may even be better than The Doors' version. Maybe. But "Smokestack Lightning" and "The Fool" will leave you utterly speechless, I guarantee it. Only thing is, naturally, the album is hard to find. I have it on cassette but I can't seem to find it on CD. Oh how I hate those fucking record companies...
FRANCA CARO <email@example.com> (10.10.2005)
NY NAME IS GEORGE AND BACK AROUND 1970 SOMEONE LOANED ME A HOME MADE EIGHT TRACK TAPE AND IT WAS THE FIRST TIME THAT I HEARD QUICKSILVER MESSENGER SERVICE OUTSIDE OF POSSIBLY HAPPY TRAILS AND WHO DO YOU LOVE. SINCE THEN I THEN I'VE HEARD FRESH AIR ONCE ON THE RADIO. ANYWAY I TAPPED THE FOUR SONGS ON THERE 'CALL ON ME', 'ALL IN MIND', 'WHAT ABOUT ME' AND 'FRESH AIR'( A SIDE NOTE IT WAS FOLLOWED BY 'SPARKLING IN THE SAND' BY TOWER OF POWER WHICH BLENDED IN NICELY IN THAT ORDER TO FIRST REEL TO REEL THEN 8 TRACK AND EVENTUALLY TO A SONY CHROME TAPE. AFTER MY REEL TO REEL AND EIGHT TRACK RECORDER/PLAYER BROKE DOWN PROBABLY DUE TO OVER USE I ONLY HAD THE CASSETTE TAPE LEFT. I ENJOYED LISTENING TO THOSE SONGS FOR YEARS. AS THE NEW MILLENNIUM ROLLED IN AND I WAS NEVER SUCCESSFUL AT GETTING A QUALITY RECORDING ON TO ANOTHER CASSETTE AND THE ONE I OWNED WAS OVER 30 YEARS OLD I BEGAN TO LOOK AROUND. FINALLY I FOUND THE CD 'CLASSIC MASTERS, QUICKSILVER MESSENGER SERVICE AND IT HAD TWO OF THE AFOREMENTIONED SONGS ON IT. WELL YESTERDAY THE TAPE FINALLY BROKE AND I WAS UPSET. SO I DECIDED TO LOOK ON THE INTERNET. IT TOOK A WHILE BUT I FOUND IT AND HAD TO JOIN EBAY AND WAS ABLE TO BUY THE CD FOR $15 DOLLARS WHICH INCLUDES SHIPPING. NOW I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO HEARING THE REST OF THE SONGS AND MAKING A NEW CASSETTE TAPE. I'VE ALWAYS WONDERED WHY ON THE SONG 'WHAT ABOUT ME' WHY THEY SAY THE AIRS NOT GOOD TO BREATHE INSTEAD OF NOT FIT TO BREATHE. I GUESS I'M BEING PICKY. IT AMAZING HOW MANY OF THEM DIED SO YOUNG
Singer on 'Pride of Man' was David Freiberg
i think this album is much better than you think it is.perhaps you have to be a musician to appreciate what they were doing....its certainly alot more inspired than their follow-up, happy trails.jazz is too personal to criticize and this was a major influence,i think,in quicksilvers music.rock/pop critics tend to want the music to live up to something whereas a real musician lives it.
Well, one reason to get the early (i.e. before the return of the horrendous vocals of Dino Valenti) QMS was John Cippolina's guitar playing. I don't think I've heard anyone else get as vibrato out of a note as Cippolina did. Was it all with the left hand or was he jerking the daylights out of the whammy bar as well?The first four QMS albums have very different sounds. This one and Shady Grove have probably stood up over time the best. "Light Your Windows" reminds me of the Electric Flag of all things, the lead is lot like Mike Bloomfield (but with more vibrato of course). There is a specific Flag connection in Nick Gravenites, who wrote for Quicksilver and helped produce this album, and also was in the Flag as lead singer. I disagree with your takes on "Gold and Silver" and "The Fool" since I like both tunes a lot. "Gold and Silver" has a real reverby sound that I didn't hear on any of their other tunes; I liked to play guitar along with this a lot when I was in high school and was learning to play. "The Fool" may seem dated, but they do break it up into different sections so its not monotonous, unlike some long cuts other bands were doing at the time. Maybe having been around when a record came out makes a difference in how one feels about it, especially years later.
QMS were just as acid-dazed as the airplane, dead etc.Olympic Auditorium, LA,,,1970,,,,QMS throws 250 hits into the audience...4 bands, $5....not a bad show stevo PS The only SF band that sounded better with their lead singer in jail (dino valenti)
Nick Vesey <firstname.lastname@example.org> (18.10.2002)
I recieved a QMS compilation as a present a few months ago, and the only track from the Quick's debut that it excludes is 'Its Been Too Long', and out of the five remaining tracks I'd have to class this as being a pretty good album, overall. I'm actually able to enjoy the tune 'Gold & Silver' from time to time, but overall I have to agree it isn't that inspiring... it is, basically, a jam for the sake of a jam, and not much more... even though I have to admit the band are in top playing form.'The Fool' is a bit better in my opinion, despite it's pretentions; the guitar tone is really what interests me about it. That said, I have to concur with you that 'Pride Of Man' is the best song on the album, and I thought I should tell you that it wasn't originally a gospel song, but was written by a folkie named Hamilton Comp who knew the band in the earlier days.
jon herman <email@example.com> (13.02.2003)
Corrections:1. "Pride of Man" was written by Hamilton Camp (not Comp), a folkie-turned-actor, originally recorded on solo guitar and vocals on "Paths of Victory." The lead vocals are Freiberg. 2. At that time, Valenti had written very few songs the band performed. 3. "Too Long" was credited to Ron Polte, the band's manager, but written by Nick Gravenites, then of the Electric Flag. His compositions on their first album were also credited to Polte.
the 1st qms album was music to my ears- I actually found "Gold&Silver" my favorite tune-I bought this 1st wk of release-35 or so yrs ago. then i found it was a Dave Brubeck "Take 5" in my later experimentation. I got to know John during the early 80's-nicest guy in the world- probably did tapping while EVH was 6. I miss John
Pat Shipp <firstname.lastname@example.org> (15.11.2003)
Great review of a great album, George, except for one thing: "Gold And Silver" is an excellent song. I really dig those jazz licks, and the interplay between Cipollina (my favorite guitarist) and Duncan is marvelous. Also, I think that "The Fool" is great. This was obviously Quicksilver's dive into the world of 'experimentation'. John's guitar (or is it Gary's?) sounds very unusual on some of the parts. How the hell did he get that weird tone? Who knows, the guy is a genius. Eric Clapton even said that he admired John and was amazed by his style (and no, I'm not making that up, go to the John Cipollina website and you'll see for yourself). Clapton's exact words were "I played with John several times during our stops in 1968. His style really tripped me out and I could never really get a footing on it. Very unique". Isn't it great when one guitar god praises another like that? I love rock 'n roll.Anyhoo, you're totally right about "Pride Of Man", it's a killer. And that chorus sounds like some sort of hard rock choir or something! "Light Your Windows" isn't exactly a song to make you cry but it's still very soothing. John also plays some beautiful notes in the background during the vocals. And "Dino's Song"? Awesome! Fantastic, upbeat, feel-good tune, as is "Too Long" with it's wonderful vocal melody. And "The Fool" is slightly overrated by QMS fans, but I still think it's a fabulous song (though it's nothing compared to the live version on Lost Gold And Silver, in which John's playing is so passionate that it could make even the most cold-hearted person break down in tears).
Francis Mansell <Fgmansell@aol.com> (01.08.2004)
Guess the only thing we agree on here George is "Pride Of Man", which is a fine song well performed, if horrendously dated. But like many of your other correspondents here, I can't stand Dino Valenti, a thoroughly talentless individual, and I don't like his song here. Guess the guy didn't deserve to go to jail, but it was the best thing that ever happened to QMS and they certainly didn't do anything worthwhile after he rejoined them. But apart from "Pride Of Man", what I like about this album is "Gold And Silver" and "The Fool" (OK, the lyrics of the latter are pretentious hippy bollocks but hey, it was written in San Francisco around 1967 - what do you expect? And most of it's an instrumental anyhow.) But the music is just fine, and John Cippolina makes noises with his guitar that I've never heard anyone else make. And "Gold And Silver" - a deadly dull jam? Doesn't even sound like a jam to me, sounds pretty well rehearsed and arranged, though they doubtless jammed on it live. And a beautiful tune - one of my all time fave instrumentals in fact, despite the vague similarity to "Take Five". It certainly doesn't outlive its welcome.Definitely their best album (they never made anywhere near a perfect one), followed by Happy Trails, which is worth listening to for loads of tasty and unique John Cippolina guitar if not for much else.
i agree...the happy trails lp is overated...just listen to boots from this period and you'll hear why:the tongue-in-cheek concept of them(i hope!)doing bo diddley songs turns out to be an excuse to venture into miles davislike terrortory("bithches brew"era ,that is)quicksilver knew how to be super looswe and super tight,i liked that about them.what i love most about them are the tighter structured songs,like on the first lp....even side 2 is wonderfully orchestrated despite the goofy lyrics.hell,unless its folk-rock were talking about lyrics hardly matter...why should they?quicksilver were highly capable of making great music,that and their almost lazely chosen yet mostly inspired improvising is what makes this band appealing to me.
This seems to be an album I liked a lot more in 1970 than I do now. No, I wasn't on drugs.The "Who Do You Love" extensions on side one would've been really good with some judicious editing, mainly to get rid of that dumb "audience participation" in the middle. The bass solo is ho-hum. The guitars however are pretty good, especially Cipollina's reentry solo and his end bit...heck everything Cipollina does, really. Side two is more of a problem. Their "Mona" is redundant since they just gave us a whole side's worth of Bo Diddley. "Maiden of the Cancer Moon" and "Calvary" are hard to tell apart really: by then I'm doing something else and the sound is in the background. It's sort of like the "Feedback" cut on Live Dead. I usually suspect record label demands when confronted with an album like this...short on material. Oddly, the immediately preceding and following studio albums didn't have such problems.
mona kuper <email@example.com> (17.06.2006)
Oh, what a fun site. I agree this is a good album, just bought it, but have had Happy Trails for years. As for Happy Trails, ya' gotta think of the trend at the time. I'd much rather listen to a half hour of 'Who do you love?' than 'Inna-gadda-da-vida'. If you are looking for other good stuff of the era, try 'Elephant Mountain' by the Youngbloods, [Dino Valente of Quicksilver wrote the song 'Get Together' which made the Youngbloods so popular] or 'It's a Beautiful Day' by band of same name. Ya' might even dare to listen to some Fever Tree, not quite as good, but noteworthy. [also of note to the Quicksilver guys go to this website to read about John Copollina's contribution to the amplifier industry http://www.johncipollina.com/ ] I am always surprised when people my childres' age listen to 'my' music, as I will probably never own a Frank Sinatra of Bing Crosby record [my mother's music]. And in Russia no less.
Markus Samuelson <firstname.lastname@example.org> (29.06.2001)
George, are you kidding on this one?'Edward, (The mad shirt grinder)' is "the most accomplished, emotional, technically immaculate, resplendent instrumental composition to ever come out of the entire California rock movement of the Sixties." This song sounds to me like the soundtrack to a seventies soft porno movie: no interesting musical ideas, repetitive themes that don't lead anywhere and a fast and grandiose ending. Well, if you listen to it as backgound music to a groovy seventies porn flick (no, I haven't seen one) I guess it has some sort of function but as pure music it's dull. George, I think you should check out the Vampyros Lesbos soundtrack, sounds at bit like this but funnier. The rest of the songs on the album are not much better. The title track is quite catchy with some nice hippyish lyrics, but the others don't lead anywhere. Almost sound like parodies of "nice hippie songs", some acoustic guitars, a bit of fuzzed lead guitar, a flute pops up here and there but without any memorable melodies. I would recommend their first two albums instead. Not that they are perfect by any means, but the first self-titled album has some great songs like 'Pride of man' and if long and freaky but beautiful guitar solos is your cup of tea I strongly recommend Happy trails.
And yet another radical change in direction for QMS after the first album and then Happy Trails. Hopkins really took over this album's sound with his dominating piano, culminating in "Edward." Actually much of the stuff on this album is good...I could do without the slow tunes "Flute Song" and "Flashing Lonesome" though. I think my favorite is "Joseph's Coat" which has some good Cippolina guitar and a psychedelic middle section with a great fade back to the final verse...also continuing that Old Testament feel in the lyrics same as "Pride of Man" from the first album.I don't really see "Edward" as a jazz tune the chords and changes don't sound like jazz to me, it's more like then-standard Bay Area jamming only with a piano instead of guitars. I hear Hopkins remade "Edward" on his Tin Man Was A Dreamer solo LP with George Harrison supplying Cippolina's guitar fills. After this album came the plunge...when Dino got let out of the joint.
Terry Appel <email@example.com> (20.04.2004)
This was an anthem of my generation. I lost a lot of friends in Viet Nam, and a lot more came back "damaged." Some have taken their own lives since. Thank God my lottery number was high. I stood right in front of George Wallace when he told us that if he had his way he'd run over all of us with his limo. I've watched the environment die. I've watched the manufacturing jobs leave the US, and the people who had them go to work at Wal Mart and McDonalds. Listen to "Four Dead in Ohio," then talk to me about sacrifice. I'd say this song was prophetic in the least, which to me makes it very powerful. Prophecy is a gift from God. What more can I say?
I was going to wait until you got Just For Love to spell out my opinion of Dino Valenti's vocals, but that probably isn't realistic. Anyway..."In case you wondered, he sounds like a shriller, whinier, and fifty percent less majestic copy of Gary Brooker." This is grossly insulting to one of my favorite singers Gary Brooker for starters. Valenti is nowhere near 50 percent of Brooker's majesty. No actually in case you wondered, Valenti sounds like a shriller, whinier Bugs Bunny. On drugs. Trying to sing R&B. Without the humor. It goes without saying the best cuts on this album are the instrumentals "Local Color" and "Spindrifter." I hear "Local Color" as Cippolina's swan song with the group (he and Hopkins left after the sessions which produced both Just For Love and this album. John did return for the "reunion" album Solid Silver which I haven't heard). Shows he was a killer slide player in addition to his regular playing. Hopkins's "Spindrifter" is sort of a sequel to his "Girl From Mill Valley" which he did with Jeff Beck. BTW Mark Naftalin was distinguished as the keyboard player for the Paul Butterfield Blues Band during their peak period in the 1960s.
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