And More Again...

But it’s the first two Quicksilver albums recorded by the quartet of Cipollina, Duncan, Elmore and Freiberg that are the high point of the group's career. The albums have a distinctive sound, based around extended arrangements and twin leads of Cipollina and Duncan. Cipollina plays in a highly melodic style, sparking off Gary Duncan's driving rhythm, a jazzier sound than the heavily amplified and overdriven sound of some of their contemporaries. 

The first album, Quicksilver Messenger Service, featuring jams like the 12-minute The Fool and 6:43 of Gold and Silver. The rest of the album was shorter. Hamilton Camp’s Pride Of Man, mid-sixties folk-rock apocalyptic visions with a tasty solo, the Duncan/Freiberg Light Your Windows is tasty psych-pop, very Summer of Love and Valenti’s Dino’s Song are all pleasant enough without giving much indication of the heights the band was capable of scaling.

Gold and Silver and album closer The Fool display the band's highly planned jam sound. There’s not much difference between the studio versions, the longer out-takes on Unreleased Quicksilver Messenger Service: Lost Gold And Silver and bootleg recordings of live performances apart from the lengths of the various tracks. 

One suspects that once they’d worked up something that worked, the band were loath to vary it too much, a factor that may have contributed to some of Steve Miller’s fairly dismissive comments about his contemporaries’ instrumental abilities.

Gold and Silver starts off as Brubeck’s Take Five, then goes for a little wander through the park for a couple of minutes. The Fool, which took up the bulk of Side Two has some tasty interplay between Cipollina and Duncan, and there’s a particularly tasty growling guitar sequence leading into some fairly hippy-dippy lyrics. There are plenty of little tempo changes in the twelve minutes and it’s the longer tracks that are the album’s strengths.


B© Ian Hughes 2012