Wednesday, April 11, 2007


The Quicksilver Messenger Service was never as well-known as some other San Francisco bands of the late sixties, but they played first-rate music that was original and inspiring. In my own humble opinion, the band was at its best when vocalist Dino Valente was NOT a participant (i.e., pre-1970), and the first two albums produced by QMS remain among the very best recordings of the legendary "San Francisco Sound." "Happy Trails," recorded at the Fillmores East and West and released in 1969, represents an (edited) example of the band's very finest live performances; the music sounds fresh and exuberant even after more than thirty years.
What was originally the first side of a vinyl lp showcases the Quick's interpretation of Bo Diddley's fabulous "Who Do You Love." The result is a fabulous musical journey featuring incredible guitar solos by Gary Duncan and John Cipollina and also by bass player David Freiberg. Drummer Greg Elmore holds the whole piece together not only with his tight and steady rendition of the trademark Bo Diddley beat, but also his ability to provide a solid rhythmic backing to the improvised guitar solos.
The long, jazz-tinged solo by Duncan has always particularly impressed me with its inventiveness and structural near-perfection. "Who Do You Love" also includes a playful interchange between band and audience that leads gloriously into Cipollina's exuberant solo. Overall, this recording represents some of the finest and most memorable music to emerge from the amazing San Franciso rock scene that emerged during the "psychedelic era."
What was side two of the vinyl album begins with a fine version of another Diddley classic, "Mona," and finishes with a fun, campy rendition of the Roy Rogers/Dale Evans theme song, "Happy Trails." What comes in between, "Maiden of the Cancer Moon" and the definitely psychedelic "Calvary" (complete with spooky Spanish guitar riffs) has its moments, but in all truth represents a somewhat weaker portion of the performance than the breathtaking "Who Do You Love."
All in all, this recording is absolutely ESSENTIAL for anyone who "was there" during the glory years of the San Francisco sound, and also for anyone who wasn't but who loves great rock music. - Douglas A. Greenberg

1. Who Do You Love Part 1
2. When Do You Love
3. Where Do You Love
4. How Do You Love
5. Which Do You Love
6. Who Do You Love Part 2
7. Mona
8. Maiden Of The Cancer Moon
9. Calvary
10. Happy Trails

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Anonymous said...

You're right about Valenti.

Nice post.

zippy said...

Beautiful album --the first one is also fantastic-thank you! Cipollina was a great guitarist -it is a shame I never had the chance to see them live ..