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Quicksilver Messenger Service - Live At The Quarter Note Lounge, New Orleans, LA, July 26 1977

  by Chris O'Toole

published: 13 / 12 / 2009

Quicksilver Messenger Service - Live At The Quarter Note Lounge, New Orleans, LA, July 26 1977
Label: Bear Records
Format: CD X2


Rewarding double live CD recorded at a gig in 1977 by influential San Francisco acid rock outfit, Quicksilver Messenger Service

Originally among the leading lights of the San Francisco acid rock scene – alongside such luminaries as the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane – Quicksilver Messenger Service dominated the club scene of West Coast America during the late 1960s. Although constant line-up changes and a somewhat indulgent sound limited their commercial impact, those who witnessed the band live invariably enjoyed one of the most intense, psychedelic experiences of their lives – if they remembered it at all! No live record can hope to capture the mixture of sounds, smells and chemicals which swirled around a band during the period – and to an extent 'Live at the Quarter Note Lounge' simply does not attempt to. This is not a recording of the group at their hedonistic peak, but is recorded in 1977 in New Orleans. The great acid wave had already broken and receded, and the musicians are secure in the shining legacy of the group. Only founding member Gary Duncan – who still tours as Quicksilver Messenger Service to this day – represents the original spirit of the band, supported as he is by long time member Dino Valenti and a cast of hired guns. But while not the sound of the group in their pomp, Quicksilver Messenger Service are well represented here. Running through a set of their most recognisable material the freeform, jam sounds are in ample evidence. Duncan wails through 'Fresh Air', 'Dr. Feelgood 'and the slower 'Baby Baby' – with stage banter reminiscent of Rob Tyner of the MC5 – before hitting his stride with their signature tune, a cover of Bo Diddley’s 'Mona'. The version presented here, however, cannot hold a candle to the recording offered on 1969’s 'Happy Trails', perhaps the definitive recording of Quicksilver Messenger Service, and certainly the closest to their frenetic live sound. There are hints of a rockier, more conventional Tim Buckley in the vocal performance throughout, but the shrill, hard-rocking guitars belie a different musical direction. The Quicksilver Messenger Service were known as a live band – indeed it took them three or four years to even record their first LP, at a time when they were at least of the equal of the Grateful Dead on the live circuit – and their loose, free spirited playing easily justifies their position as one of the most important bands of their era. The set closes with another reworking of a Bo Diddley classic, 'Who Do You Love?' Again a holdover from the band’s earliest days the track is given an extended ten minute workout in a rousing finale. Fans might also like to check out the 'Live at the Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco', recording, which documents the band on September 9th 1966 and is also available on Bear Records. The disc illustrates the group at the other end of their journey; an up and coming jam band touring the local circuit a year before they would be signed to Capitol Records. 'The Quarter Note Lounge', in contrast, is a document of a group nearing the end of their original run, but is no less rewarding and captures the fun loving spirit of the group, even as the times changed around them.

Track Listing:-
1 Fresh Air
2 Dr. Feelgood
3 Baby Baby
4 Mona
5 Play My Guitar
6 Gypsy Lights
7 Cowboy On The Run
8 Bittersweet Love
9 What About Me?
10 Freeway Flyer
11 I Wanna Fly
12 Subway
13 Rambling Gambler
14 Who Do You Love?

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Live at the Summer of Love (2012)
Fantastic live double CD of covers and original numbers from 60's San Francisco-based psychedelic act Quicksilver Messenger Service, which provides an excellent introduction to their early career
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