After years of line-up changes, break-ups, drug busts and assorted tomfoolery, the original Quicksilver Messenger Service came together for one last hurrah with ‘Solid Silver’.
Written by: Eric
ARTIST: Quicksilver Messenger Service
ALBUM: Solid Silver
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Dino Valenti – lead and background vocals, electric and acoustic guitar * Gary Duncan – lead vocals, lead and rhythm guitars * John Cipollina – lead guitar * David Freiberg – bass, background vocals * Greg Elmore – drums
Additional Musicians: Nicky Hopkins, Pete Sears – piano * Michael Lewis – piano, organ, arp * Skip Olsen, Mario Cipollina – bass * Kathi McDonald – background vocals
TRACK LISTING: 01 Gypsy Lights * 02 Heebie Jeebies * 03 Cowboy On The Run * 04 Heard You Singing * 05 Worryin’ Shoes * 06 The Letter * 07 They Don’t Know * 08 Flames * 09 Witches Moon * 10 Bittersweet Love
What was it about sailboats and rock bands in the 1970s? CSN, Black Oak Arkansas, Loggins and Messina and the Pure Prairie League all yacht rocked their way through album cover photo shoots that were hardly complimentary and you gotta wonder if any of them slipped off the bow only to be fished out of the high seas after too many lines in the galley.
Not that Quicksilver Messenger Service would know anything about that but as one of the original San Francisco psychedelic bands it’s safe to assume they indulged, in fact my first and only exposure for many years to Quicksilver’s music was the 1970 single ‘Fresh Air’ and that was written about weed, so connect the dots.
After years of line-up changes, break-ups, drug busts and assorted tomfoolery, the original Quicksilver Messenger Service came together for one last hurrah with ‘Solid Silver’. Bassist David Freiberg by this time was already a member of Jefferson Starship and band mate Pete Sears makes a guest appearance on three tracks although neither are able to salvage what is a rather bland album.
It’s not bad just boring, almost as if they knew the bong water had gone stale and just didn’t give a shit. There are a few worthwhile songs scattered here and there including lead-off rocker ‘Gypsy Nights’ featuring a back-up vocalist who shouts remarkably like Grace Slick giving the tune a throwback Jefferson Airplane feel.
‘Cowboy On The Run’ despite its hippie idealism is as good as anything Poco were doing in hazy 1975 while the up-tempo jangle rock of ‘Heard You Singing’ reminds me of Five Man Electrical Band‘s classic 1970 coming of age single ‘Signs’.
More breezy country rock vibrations with ‘The Letter’ and serious Doobie Brothers plagiarism with ‘They Don’t Know’ can’t wake the LP from its musical slumber. For a band who created the peerless acid flecked ‘Shady Grove’ and ‘Happy Trails’ albums, it’s easy to hear why fans bailed as ‘Solid Silver’ barely scratched #88 on the Billboard charts.
Another good indication Quicksilver’s time had come and gone was the tour in support of the album. Meandering around North America throughout 1975 and well into 1976, the band were booked into clubs and small hall soft seater’s with an impressive list of opening acts including Kiss, Journey, Angel and The Runaways among others.
A hungry new generation was waiting in the wings and the Quicksilver Messenger Service’s tie dyed Haight-Ashbury heyday must have seemed like a lifetime away.
Quicksilver Messenger Service on Video
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