Thursday, 2 April 2015

Quicksilver Messenger Service - Bill Graham Archives 1966-67


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Quicksilver Messenger Service (sometimes credited as simply Quicksilver) is an American psychedelic rock band formed in 1965 in San Francisco. They were most famous for their biggest hit, the single "Fresh Air" (from the album Just for Love), which reached #49 in 1970.

Quicksilver Messenger Service gained wide popularity in the San Francisco Bay Area and through their recordings, with psychedelic rock enthusiasts around the globe, and several of their albums ranked in the Top 30 of the Billboard Pop charts. Though not as commercially successful as contemporaries Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead, Quicksilver was integral to the beginnings of their genre. 


With their jazz and classical influences and a strong folk background, the band attempted to create an individual, innovative sound.  Member Dino Valenti drew heavily on musical influences he picked up during the folk revival of his formative musical years. The style he developed from these sources is evident in Quicksilver Messenger Service's swung rhythms and twanging guitar sounds.

After many years, the band has attempted to reform despite the deaths of several members. Recently, original members Gary Duncan and David Freiberg have been touring as the Quicksilver Messenger Service, using various backing musicians.

im Murray left the group not long after they performed at the Monterey International Pop Festival in June 1967. The band began a period of heavy touring on the West Coast of the United States where they built up a solid following and featured on many star-studded bills at the Avalon Ballroom and the Fillmore West. Sound engineer (and infamous LSD chemist) Owsley Stanley regularly recorded concerts at major San Francisco venues during this period, and his archive includes many QMS live performances from 1966–67, which were released on his Bear Recordings label in 2008-2009.


QMS initially held back from signing a record deal at the time but eventually signed to Capitol Records in late 1967, becoming the last of the top-ranked San Francisco bands to sign with a major label. Capitol was the only company that had missed out on signing a San Francisco “hippie” band during the first flurry of record company interest and, consequently, Quicksilver Messenger Service was able to negotiate a better deal than many of their peers. At the same time, Capitol signed the Steve Miller Band, with whom Quicksilver Messenger Service had appeared on the movie and soundtrack album Revolution, together with the group Mother Earth.

Quicksilver Messenger Service released their eponymous debut album in 1968. It was followed by Happy Trails, released in early 1969 and largely recorded live at the Fillmore East and the Fillmore West. "Happy Trails" has a few additions to the original live performances: a studio comment at the beginning of side 2 and a completely different version of "Calvary," which was recorded in the studio just before Gary Duncan left the band; otherwise it reflects Quicksilver's live sound faithfully. Happy Trails was awarded a gold album in the United States. 

These albums, which have been hailed as "...two of the best examples of the San Francisco sound at its purest," define the classic period in the group's career and showcase their distinctive sound, emphasizing extended arrangements and fluid twin-guitar improvisation. Cipollina's highly melodic, individualistic lead guitar style, combined with Gary Duncan's driving minor scale, jazzy sound guitar style, feature a clear, notable contrast to the heavily amplified and overdriven sound of contemporaries like Cream and Jimi Hendrix. 


In 2003 Happy Trails was rated at No. 189 in the Rolling Stone Top 500 albums survey, where it was described as "...the definitive live recording of the mid-Sixties San Francisco psychedelic-ballroom experience..." Archetypal QMS songs include the elongated, continually re-titled suite based on Bo Diddley's Who Do You Love??, featured on Happy Trails.

Duncan left the group not long after the recording of Happy Trails; according to David Freiberg, this was largely because of his escalating problems with opiates and amphetamines. His 'farewell' performances were the studio recordings that ended up on Happy Trails and a final live performance with the band on New Year's Eve 1969. Duncan recalled 18 years later:

"Well, let's put it this way, at the end of 1968, I was pretty burned out. We'd been on the road for, really, the first time in our lives. I just left for a year. I didn't want to have anything to do with music at all. And I left for a year and rode motorcycles and lived in New York and L.A. and just kind of went crazy for about a year."
Freiberg later recalled that Duncan's departure shook the core of the band: "Duncan was the 'engine' man, it just didn’t WORK without him ... for me. I was really ... I was devastated...


For their 1969 album Shady Grove, Duncan did not participate, replaced by renowned English session keyboardist Nicky Hopkins, who had played on scores of hit albums and singles by acts like The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The Who and Steve Miller, among many others. Hopkins' virtuoso piano boogie dominates the album, giving it a unique sound within the Quicksilver catalog.

The band that became Quicksilver Messenger Service originally was conceived as a rock vehicle for folk singer/songwriter Dino Valente (b. Nov. 7, 1943, d. Nov 16, 1994), author of "Get Together." Living in San Francisco, Valente had found guitarist John Cipollina (b. Aug. 24, 1943, d. May 29, 1989) and singer Jim Murray. Valente's friend David Freiberg (b. Aug. 24, 1938) joined on bass, and the group was completed by the addition of drummer Greg Elmore (b. Sep. 4, 1946) and guitarist Gary Duncan (b. Sep 4, 1946). As the band was being put together, Valente was imprisoned on a drug charge and he didn't rejoin Quicksilver until later.

Happy Trails They debuted at the end of 1965 and played around the Bay Area and then the West Coast for the next two years, building up a large following but resisting offers to record that had been taken up by such San Francisco acid rock colleagues as Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead. 


Quicksilver finally signed to Capitol toward the end of 1967 and recorded their self-titled debut album in 1968 (by this time, Murray had left). Happy Trails, the 1969 follow-up, was recorded live. After its release, Duncan left the band and was replaced for Shady Grove (1970) by British session pianist Nicky Hopkins. By the time of its release, however, Duncan had returned, along with Valente, making the group a sextet.

Just for Love This version of Quicksilver, prominently featuring Valente's songs and lead vocals, lasted only a year, during which two albums, Just for Love and What About Me, were recorded. Cipollina, Freiberg, and Hopkins then left, and the remaining trio of Valente, Duncan, and Elmore hired replacements and cut another couple of albums before disbanding. There was a reunion in 1975, resulting in a new album and a tour, and in 1986 Duncan revived the Quicksilver name for an album that also featured Freiberg on background vocals.

Personnel:
Gary Duncan - guitar, vocals
 John Cipollina - guitar
 Jim Murray - guitar, vocals
 David Freiberg - bass, vocals
 Greg Elmore - drums

Fillmore Auditorium 1966.11.05
Set 1:
01. Dino's Song
02. Hair Like Sunshine
03. I Hear You Knockin'
04. Babe I'm Gonna Leave You
05. Smokestack Lightning
06. If You Live
07. All Night Worker

Set 2:

01. Got My Mojo Workin'
02. You Don't Love Me
03. Suzy Q
04. Babe I'm Gonna Leave You
05. Gold And Silver
06. Stand By Me
07. Pride Of Man

Fillmore Auditorium 1967.02.04 

Set 1:
01. You Don't Love Me (Cuts In After 10 Seconds Following An Unknown Song)
02. I Hear You Knockin'
03. Gold And Silver
04. All Night Worker
05. Codeine
06. Got My Mojo Workin'
07. Mona
08. A Fool For You
09. I Can't Believe It
10. Look Around You

Set 2:

01. Dino's Song
02. Walkin' Blues
03. Babe I'm Gonna Leave You
04. Hoochie Coochie Man
05. Stand By Me
06. Drivin' Wheel (Early Version Of ''it's Been Too Long'')
07. Duncan And Brady
08. Pride Of Man
09. Who Do You Love

Fillmore Auditorium 1967.02.05

Set 1:
01. Suzy Q ( Cuts In )
02. I Hear You Knockin'
03. Dandelion
04. Gold And Silver
05. You Don't Love Me
06. Codeine
07. Instrumental
08. Smokestack Lightning

Set 2:

01. Dino's Song ( Cuts In )
02. Walkin' Blues
03. Drivin' Wheel ( Early Version Of It's Been Too Long )
04. Babe I'm Gonna Leave You
05. Hey Mama
06. Hoochie Coochie Man
07. All Night Worker
08. Stand By Me
08. Pride of Man

Fillmore Auditorium 1967.02.06

Set 1:
01. You Don't Love Me
02. All Night Worker
03. Gold And Silver
04. Hey Mama
05. Walkin' Blues
06. Year Of The Outrage
07. I Hear You Knockin'
08. A Fool For You
09. I Can't Believe It

Part 1: Link
Part 2: Link
Part 3: Link
Part 4: Link
or
Part 1: Link
Part 2: Link
Part 3: Link
Part 4: Link
.

7 comments:

drogos said...

Hello,
Happy to be the first to thank you for sharing so beautiful gems. Congratulations for your blog.
Best regards from the French West Coast,
Robert

drogos said...

Hello,
Happy to be the first to thank you for sharing so beautiful gems. Congratulations for your blog.
Best regards from the French West Coast,
Robert

Unknown said...

Hi Chris,

My blog Surfadelic is down, so I just want to let you know my new adress is

https://surfadelic2.wordpress.com/

Stay tuned,
Best,
Mr.E

john said...

Thank you is not enough to let you know how much i appreciate you giving us the music of Quicksilver Messenger Service.For those of us who think John Cipollina was a one of a kind guitarist (my favorite) this is a real treasure. thanks so much best of luck in the future.

Anonymous said...

Outstanding work, Chris! You still got it, after all these years!

Exilestreet said...

Damn! Just came across these, wouyld it be poss for a reup or if anyone could share? thanks in advance

Anonymous said...

Please Re-Up