Quicksilver Messenger Service | Live At The Quarter Note Lounge, New Orleans 77 – CD Review

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Recorded way back in the day in that sticky New Orleans summer of 1977 (though
what summer in New Orleans isn’t sticky) at the the Quarter Note Lounge, the
four-piece Quicksilver Messenger Service put down a blistering set of 15 tunes,
now available for the first time on a double disc set called Live At
The Quarter Note Lounge, New Orleans 77
. From the outset you have to
excuse the sound quality — Rick Wetzel’s bass simply clicks and Captain
Kirk’s keys are way too forward in the mix — but the band does make the
best of this live show broadcast over the radio.

They open with a big favorite “Fresh Air,” featuring original singer
Dino Valenti and Gary Duncan wailing away on guitar. The organ gets loud on
what should have been a mid-tempo “Baby Baby,” but things are settling
in for “Mona,” a Bo Diddley tune from the band’s second album Happy
Trails
. “Gypsy Lights” bops, “Cowboy On The Run”
is a sweet tune, with just enough of that 60s sensibility to the lyric, almost-there
backing vocals and some nice touches by Duncan. Chris Myers gets to show off
his drumming on “Bittersweet Love” and the totally 60s “What
About Me?,” with its low sweep organ and cozy beat, ends the first set.

The second disc begins with a Rick Wetzel’s solo on “Freeway Flyer,”
a spirited chunker-of-a-number from 1970’s Just For Love
album, reminding me of “Goin’ Home” by Ten years After only with
the organ taking the lead. Duncan’s got a great rhythm going on the spectacular
“I Wanna Fly”, and, of course, we wouldn’t get past a QSM concert
without their explosive version of another Bo Diddley classic, “Who Do
You Love?.”

Quicksilver Messenger Service was a band of renown, from the same ilk, place
and time as Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead (Quicksilver and Airplane
even shared members). Yet they never really enjoyed the wider success of other
Bay area bands. Live At The Quarter Note Lounge, New Orleans 77
does not feature all the original members of the band in their prime. It is,
however, a solid live concert and a pointed document of what the band was all
about during the late 70s.

~ Ralph Greco, Jr.


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