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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Quicksilver Messenger Service - Solid Silver (1975 us, classic west coast psych, last official album)

A rejuvenated Quicksilver reconvened in '75, after a well-received compilation album, 'Anthology', seemed to revive interest in the band. The line-up that cut 'Solid Silver' featured long-serving QMS alumni Gary Duncan (guitar, vocals), Dino Valenti (vocals, guitar), John Cipollina (guitar), David Freiberg (backing vocals, bass), and Greg Elmore (drums). Various keyboard assists from the likes of Nicky Hopkins and Michael Lewis helped flesh out the band's sound.

Although hopes were high that 'Solid Silver' might kick start the band's career, the reality was otherwise. Whilst the musicianship is excellent, the big problem with 'Solid Silver' is the lack of particularly inspired material. The songs struggle to reach a head of steam, and, although John Cipollina's distinctive lead guitar style is much in evidence, even he can't get overly worked up about it. 'Worryin' Shoes' is a blues shuffle by numbers, but its taken at quite a clip,which pushes the energy level up a few notches. 'Cowboy on the Run' isn't bad, a plaintive rock ballad with a heartfelt Valenti vocal. Other tracks such as 'The Letter' and 'They Don't Know' have their moments, but there's little of the old QMS frictional guitar sparks to lift the thing above the lightweight at best, or mundane at worst.

QMS toured to support the album, but neither the tour nor the album were a great success ('Solid Silver' made number eighty-nine on the Billboard album chart), and the band ground to a halt. Freiberg enjoyed rather more success as a member of Jefferson Starship. Cipollina died on 29th May 1989, from complications assocaiated with emphysema, aged forty-two. Dino Valenti sloughed off this mortal coil on November 16th 1994, aged fifty-seven.

Quicksilver Messenger Service remain a fondly-recalled, if ultimately underachieving acid-rock band. There's still a version of the QMS knocking about, featuring Gary Duncan on guitar, and of course, CD reissues of the band's albums have helped add lustre to their legend. 'Solid Silver' may not be the finest Quicksilver album, but it has its moments, and Cipollina was always a guitar player worth listening to. I hope you enjoy it.
by Alan Robinson

1. Gypsy Lights (Gary Duncan) - 3:40
2. Heebie Jeebies (John Cipollina) - 4:15
3. Cowboy on the Run (Dino Valenti) - 3:13
4. I Heard You Singing (David Freiberg, Robert Hunter) - 3:48
5. Worryin' Shoes (Valenti) - 3:25
6. The Letter (Valenti) - 4:06
7. They Don't Know (Duncan) - 3:54
8. Flames (Cipollina, Valenti) - 4:20
9. Witches Moon (Valenti) - 2:59
10.Bittersweet Love (Valenti, Duncan) - 4:23

Quicksilver Messenger Service

*Gary Duncan - Vocals, Guitar, Pedal Steel Guitar
*John Cipollina - Vocals, Guitar, Hawaiian Steel Guitar
*David Freiberg - Vocals, Bass
*Greg Elmore - Drums
*Dino Valenti - Vocals, Guitar
Guest Musicians

*Nicky Hopkins - Piano
*Pete Sears - Piano
*Michael Lewis - Piano, Organ, Arp Synthesizer
*Skip Olson - Bass
*Mario Cipollina - Bass
*Kathi Mcdonald - Vocals

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