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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
QMS' debut album is generally thought to be their best, after which each subsequent release found diminishing critical favour, though their first five all contain something worth hearing. They seem to have been in a state of constant flux. This album includes the superb 'Dino's Song', written by singer Dino Valenti, who was absent from recordings as he'd been busted. He returned for later albums. Crucial to the success of 'QMS', however, was the presence of twin lead guitarists John Cipollina and Gary Duncan. They display a similar rapport on the magnificent instrumental, 'Gold And Silver', to that enjoyed by Ted Turner and Andy Powell on Wishbone Ash's classic 'Argus'. This track seems to take its initial inspiration from an unlikely source, Dave Brubeck's jazz hit 'Take Five'.

The longest track, 'The Fool', is less accessible but repays repeated listening. It doesn't rely as much on the fluid lead guitar lines of previous tracks and it comes as a surprise when a vocal bursts in after six minutes. The remaining songs are great covers of 'Pride Of Man' and the funkier 'Too Long' and an impressive original 'Light Your Windows'. The album only stretches to just over half an hour but is first rate throughout.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 2 September 2009
I always believed Happy Trails was the only lp/cd to own by the Quicksilver Messenger Service. Partly because of the boring later albums.
Quicksilver Messenger Service is simply a great debut though. I don't really understand why it was critizised at first. The songs are fine, the playing is terrific. Although the guitarplaying is not as spectacular as on Happy Trails (maybe that's why), it's all excellent. The only lesser song is The Fool but that also features some great jamming by the band.
Quicksilver Messenger Service is not to be overlooked. You should own the 1st TWO albums by this band.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 30 May 2011
This is indeed a great album and a bit of a lost classic from the West Coast 60s scene, but I feel I should just put a polite correction concerning the reviewer claiming this never had a mono release; It did, and I know because I'm looking at my mono LP. The original release did come out on EMI/Capitol in stereo, cat no. ST 2904, as advertised on my mono copy. The mono version has the cat no. T 2904, so please enjoy this re-mastered mono CD without fear of somebody somewhere having messed up during the mastering.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 10 March 2010
For some reason QMS never had the kind of success in UK enjoyed by the Doors and the Airplane nor seemed to attract the kind of cult following of Love or the Dead. However this is one of those albums of that era that should not be missed. If you appreciate great guitar playing - pretty much as described by other reviewers - then you will enjoy this. And . . . if you like this you'll like "Happy Trails" where their extended version of "Who do you Love?" is another classic.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 23 June 2002
This is a brilliant debut album by QMS.The album opens with the single "Pride of Man",followed by two up tempo numbers,"Light your windows" and "Dino's song" written by the late,great Dino Valenti.QMS would have been an even stronger band with Dino on board!My favourite track is "Gold and silver" which is a lovely melodic instrumental with great guitar interplay between Cipollina and Gary Duncan."It's been too long" is another nice,happy song and the album finishes with the track "The fool" which has some good violin playing by David Freiberg,the lyrics are a bit hippy trippy,but afterall it was the '60s
After the brilliant "Happy trails" the band lost some of it's magic,so check out the debut it will brighten up your life!!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 5 December 2008
I can agree with most of what Jingles from Sunderland says in his review above but, he is wrong with the vocalists.
Dino Valente wasn't in the band for the first three albums, as he was in prison for a drugs bust. I think he was arrested the night before the recording of this the first album.
The lead singer on most of the tracks is bassist David Freiberg, and the other vocalist is guitarist Gary Duncan.
However, what Jingles is right about is the quality of this recording. It may sound a little dated in places, but when Cipollina and Duncan open up - look out!
If you know nothing of this band, get 'Happy Trails' too. My friends and I listened to nothing else for quite a few years on its initial release.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 November 2013
I think that for anyone having the beauteous 'Happy Trails' in their collection yet ambivalent about the Valenti and other QSM discs as I am, this is as manna from Heaven: it is EXACTLY what you need. 'Gold and Silver' and 'Fool' would not be out of place on 'Happy Trails' - in fact they very much belong with - the beautiful, fluid not-quite-blues sprung from the guitars of the wonderful Gary Duncan and John Cipollina on 'HT'.. Oh yes, there's other stuff here like 'Pride of Man', that lyrically portentous, po faced effort, with its slightly insipid early 60's vocal one finds in even Beefheart's first outing - very dated, and not in a good way - , but those two main tracks are the real and loooong, deal, well worth the price of the whole thing, easily so. 'Gold and Silver' features the haunting tone that's the band's hallmark at its peak and the soft/hard licktrade is often delicate, whining and stirring; equally so 'Fool', featuring Freiburg's more than decent vocal and inspired riffing by the boys against the usual thumpetty thump of Greg Elmore's drums,( never going to get a Bonham style solo out of this boy!) including a wah-wah pedal that really RASPS as Cip cranks it almost tuneless and slowing to a gentle croon about Love/Life and other semi apercus of the time. It's a disc I cannot recommend too highly to the 'Happy Trails' fan , since at its two-track-best it's up to that high level. And the rest's fine too. To think, I listened all those years loving 'Trails' and not much loving 'What About Me' and 'Shady Grove' when this gem eluded me. Don't ignore it even if it IS ridiculous that this has 5 stars and 'Trails,' manifestly a disc whose nearly every track is GREAT, has half a star fewer. This is terrific but Happy Trails' is unquestionably their masterwork. You must buy this if you like that, though. You just MUST!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 5 August 2001
This is where it is.....the sounds of San Francisco in the heady days of 1967. Bay Area acid rock doesn't get much better than this album or "Happy Trails" by QMS (although, one must also listen to Country Joe & The Fish's essential first two albums!). A scorcher of an opening track ("Pride of Man"), blistering acid instrumentals ("Gold & Silver"), superb Rock and Roll ditties ("Dino's Song"), and Flowery lyrics representing those Haight-Ashbury hippie days and nights ("The Fool"). A must have for anyone interested in owning a piece of rock and roll history.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 15 January 2006
No getting away from it. I love this album. From start to finish. When it ends I turn around, go back down, go back the way I came.
Given my stated bias I will try to objectively review this album as best I can. From the point of view of being a debut album, this is superb. Everything in it is top quality. For instance the songs and their arrangements are exceedingly well done and the album has a sophistication about it that many of it's contemporaries lack. The songs are more than the standard four minute love songs which predominated the charts on both sides of the Atlantic at that time. Similarly the band were not afraid to break new ground as shown by the length of the closing number, 'Fool' with the sumptuous wah-wah solo.
The band have a very strong presence, a togetherness, throughout the album where no one band member predominates or overwhelms. Dino Valenti's vocals have a distictive sound which gave him and Marty Balin a bit of an edge over other Bay Area male vocalists.
John Cipollina and Gary Duncan, both with their different playing styles and techniques are the perfect foils for each other and the entire album has these great litlle interplays as well as some measured and some less measured, solos from both which add to the tightness of the band.
The limitations of the songs for the purpose of recording are a little limiting for a band which had a reputation for jamming, vying for pole position at the time with the Grateful Dead, but they are alluded to here on several occasions, firstly on Gold and Silver, a sort of tribute to Dave Brubeck which the Stranglers were to do something similar with years later. The refrain which sticks in the mind is played with and used as a departure point and a point of return and is at once melodic and exploratory urging the listener to go beyond where man has gone before.
I love Dino's song as a personal favourite for a couple of reaons. Firstly I think that it, probably more than any other encapsulates what was meant for many as the summer of love. 'all I ever wanted to do was know you, maybe hope that you could know me too...all I ever wanted to do was love you, maybe hope that you could love me too', he croons. Just breaking down that external shield of private "me" and my feelings and bringing more openness into social Amerika was and is a great aspiration. And the barriers that were broken down are here and now being built back up.
Between Gold and Silver and the soaring and majestic Fool is It's Been Too Long, a brief love song but marked by the tantalising Cipollina tremelo throughout and a great little solo.
The ultimate track, Fool, is a sprawling twelve minutes. It is a crowning achievement on a short thirty-one minute album which begins with a guitar intro which builds with the rest of the band gradually joining in a developing the theme before opening out into a beautiful rythmic piece before changing again with a guitar break and some interesting interuptive pieces before setting off on a little mellow aside with guitars sounding almost like violins at times, all sustained by Friedberg's great basslines. Five minutes or so into the track and there is a little teaser of wah wah before a restrained guitar solo with reverb and wah wah aplenty. After a couple of minutes the vocals arrive with a heavenly choir and the track metamorphises into a quintissentially Quicksilver sound with soaring vocals from Valenti leading the band forwards. Life is love, love is life he intones. Certainly a track for a Timothy Leary experience.
All in all this is the crowning glory to a majestic work which I feel was never bettered by later recording efforts. There again however, the band were more known for their performances rather than there recordings. Alas, as a Brit I never did get to see them live but I was priviledged to see the Electric Gunslinger, John Cipollina, play with Man at Newcastle City Hall much later.
This has to be one of the albums of thedecade if not the century and I wholeheartedly recommend it.
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on 11 September 2014
I have been putting off buying this waiting for the powers that be to include the two QMS tracks, featuring this line-up, from the
'Revolution' soundtrack, (which I never thought would come out, since the film never did) But now the soundtrack has been issued and I'll have to buy that too, as it features blistering versions of 'Babe I'm Gonna leave You' and 'Codine'
But back to this and 44 years on, I can't get 'Pride of Man' the opening track on this CD, out of my head, with its semi-Biblical gloomy overtones. Gold and Silver starts with Dave Brubeck's 'Take Five' riff and then the guitars take over.
Only six tracks but the band is tight and there is plenty of guitar interplay and Freiberg's vocals are the equal of anyone's.
The Fool is a bit pretentious(but only a bit) and there is much to admire.
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