Tuned In To Music

Reflections from a lifetime

Review: Quicksilver Messenger Service, Lost Gold and Silver

“Lost Gold and Silver” is one of the more interesting CDs to come our way in a long time.  It’s a two disc collection of tracks from the classic Quicksilver Messenger Service lineup of John Cipollina (lead qsm lostguitar), Gary Duncan (second guitar), David Freiberg (bass), and Greg Elmore (drums) recorded in 1967-’68 and almost all of it is previously unreleased.  The music ranges from absolutely outstanding to absolutely terrible.

The tracks on disc one were all recorded live and it’s brilliant.  Quicksilver’s great strength was that, at least at the beginning, they were a collection of first-rate musicians who had an exceptional ability to play and improvise in musical structures that were often much more complex than standard rock and blues.  For example, their mighty dual guitar epic “Gold and Silver” is based on the famous theme from Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” which is played in 5/4 time.  How many run-of-the-mill rock musicians could recognize 5/4 time if they heard it, let alone play and improvise comfortably in it.  These guys were immensely talented and that talent is on full display in the live recordings on disc one.  The disc includes versions of four tracks which appeared on their self-titled debut album, “Gold and Silver”, “Light Your Windows”, “Dino’s Song” and “The Fool”.  Their ability as musicians is illustrated both by how well they reproduce the studio tracks live and how they build exciting and often blistering improvisations into these familiar songs.  Disc one also contains several blues and extended rock jams in “Back Door Man”, “Smokestack Lightening”, “Who Do You Love” and “Mona/Maiden of the Cancer Moon/Mona”.  All four are terrific.  If anyone ever had a doubt that Cipollina was one of the great guitar players of his age then all they would have to do is listen to this disc to have those doubts burned down.  Cipollina is masterful.  While the musicianship captured on these tracks is scintillating, the vocals are often terrible or worse.  Out of tune only begins to describe it.  Thankfully only a small proportion of these songs are given to vocals but when they sing your toes will curl.  It’s that bad.

It’s clear from differences in sound quality that disc one is a collection of perfomances from any number of concerts.  No info is given about time and place of recording so there’s no knowing about where or when for any of this stuff.  Recording quality is not great but it’s not bad either, much better than I expected it to be.

Disc two contains a collection of studio tracks recorded in 1967 and ’68.  It ranges from somewhat interesting to dreadful.  If you’re a fan of Quicksilver things like an early version of “Gold and Silver”, called “Acapulco Gold and Silver” that includes a harpsichord and whistling a-la the theme from “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” will be of interest.  The penultimate track “Stand By Me” (not the Ben E. King song) foreshadows the soft-rock, folk sound that Dino Valenti would impose on the band in the near future.  It sucks.  Sorry, but there’s just no other way to put it; it flat out sucks.  It turns what was one of the most exciting and musically talented group of musicians operating anywhere at the time into a group that sounds like it’s headed straight for a weekend engagement at a Holiday Inn in a small town 50 miles east of Pittsburg.  Valenti was supposed to be in the original Quicksilver but was busted and sent to jail just as the group was forming.  They should have thrown him back in jail for what he ended up doing to this band.

If you’re a fan of early Quicksilver disc one is essential and you might find a thing a thing or two of interest on disc two.  If you’re not a fan but want to know what all the fuss was all about, if you like exciting, exceptionally well played live music, or if you play guitar and want to hear a master at work, disc one is highly recommended.  I heard Quicksilver play a small, free gig right around the time these recordings were made and I’ve long remembered it as one of the best live rock gigs I’ve ever heard in terms of thrilling, superbly played music .  Disc one fully confirms that memory.  Just don’t listen to the singing.

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10/27/2007 - Posted by | CD reviews, music, music reviews

6 Comments »

  1. […] wrote an interesting post today on Review: Quicksilver Messenger Service, Lost Gold and SilverHere’s a quick […]

    Pingback by Volcaniccep.Com » Review: Quicksilver Messenger Service, Lost Gold and Silver | 10/28/2007 | Reply

  2. CIPOLLINA..

    Comment by Pete T | 11/14/2007 | Reply

  3. Ugh. Why did I think there were two “p”s and not two “l”s? And why didn’t I ever notice the mistake? Anyway, spelling corrected, thanks for the heads up.

    Comment by kmurnane | 11/14/2007 | Reply

  4. […] than can be heard on the first two Quicksilver albums, the live disc from the two disc “Lost Gold and Silver” collection is strongly recommended followed by “Copperhead“, an album from […]

    Pingback by Review: John Cipollina, Raven « Tuned In To Music | 12/03/2007 | Reply

  5. I really enjoyed hearing original singer Jim Murray sing “Your Time Will Come”. Fantastic harmonica. Great lead work by John. Kind of Django-esque.

    Comment by Will | 12/12/2008 | Reply

  6. Weak and poor material: Nothing new on the disc 1, there’s almost the whole concert caught in Psycho double LP “Maiden Of The Cancer Moon” but the sound quality is miles away from “Maiden” album, in particular Cipollina’s guitar is mortified and buried under a muffled sound. The mixing work is very poor. Anyway in the liner notes no mention to Psycho album: the operation sound like a legal theft!
    The bonus disc “Studio” seems to be a trick!Poor demo material for die-hard fans. The two gems “Babe I’m gonna leave you” and “Codine” from “Revolution” suffer a bad mixing work and don’t shine as the original versions on LP.
    Best avoid! You better check “Maiden of the cancer Moon” on Grateful Breed blog, It deserves much more than this two disc set.
    Andrea Mian

    Comment by Andrea Mian | 07/13/2009 | Reply


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