Thursday, January 30, 2014

Quicksilver Messenger Service “Live at the Old Mill Tavern March 29 1970”

GUEST REVIEW BY GENTLEMAN JOHN BATTLES (Purple Pyramid) This is pretty raunchy stuff for QMS circa 1970. Dino Valenti returns to the fold but it’s plain to see this was still John Cippollina’s band. As Jeff Dahl once said, “that guy never played a bum note in his life.” Even when he’s stretching out a bit on a solo you know he’s going somewhere. The vocals don’t sound affected, like some very precious later stuff I’ve heard. Some of the songs drag on a bit, but that was still their norm. Besides, they sound like they were in the moment. “Mona,”the standout track in ANY Quicksilver set starts out the with the prerequisite Diddley beat accentuated by Cippollina’s tremeloed rhythm guitar. It’s crazy, screamin’ wah wah blooze that might have been borne of the SF hippie scene, but like Moby Grape and early Airplane, they can take the music somewhere elese and bring it back, making it all make musical sense, even when they are in danger of briefly losing the map. After “Mona” the band does a song called “Baby Baby” they claim to have just learned, which is OK, just considerably less rockin’, as is “Rain,” but “Mojo” brings back the rain, establishing Quicksilver as a force in the hard rock age to be, as they say, reckoned with, with screamin’ guitars and even a screamin’ Valenti. The liner notes support that the hot keyboard fills here are by none other than Nicky Hopkins, though he was to part company soonafter when his services were needed by various Stones, Whos and ex-Beatles. The two blues jams with James Cotton (who played the North California ballromm circuit) are predictably a bit off the cuff, but they’re having a good time. Cotton isn’t showboating, he’s just comfortably jamming, sitting in with a young blues/rock band like it’s second nature. Sure there’s 23 minutes of such jamming, but you can run some errands…like Jake always says, that’s the beauty of the blues: it’s like watching All My Children, you can leave and come back at any point in the near or distant future and you’ll still be able to understand what’s going on, you didn’t really miss anything, just enjoy it!

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