Quicksilver Messenger Service


Band members                             Related acts

   line up 1 (1965-67)

- John Cipollina (RIP 1989) -- guitar, percussion
- Gary Duncan -- vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion
- Greg Elmore -- drums, percussion
- David Freiberg -- vocals, guitar, bass
- Jim Murray -- vocals, guitar, vocals

 

   line up 2 (1967-69)

- John Cipollina (RIP 1989) -- guitar, percussion
- Gary Duncan -- vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion
- Greg Elmore - - drums, percussion
- David Freiberg - - vocals, guitar, bass

   line up 3 (1969)

- John Cipollina (RIP 1989) -- guitar, percussion
- Gary Duncan -- vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion
- Greg Elmore - - drums, percussion

NEW - Nicky Hopkins -- keyboards

 

   line up 4 (1969-70)

- John Cipollina (RIP 1989) -- guitar, percussion
- Gary Duncan -- vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion
- Greg Elmore - - drums, percussion
- David Freiberg - - vocals, guitar, bass

- Nicky Hopkins -- keyboards

NEW - Dino Valenti (aka Chris Farrow, Jesse Otis Farrow, 

  Chet Powers, Dino Valente) -- vocals, rhythm guitar

 

   line up 5 (1970) 

- John Cipollina (RIP 1989) -- guitar, percussion
- Gary Duncan -- vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion
- Greg Elmore - - drums, percussion

- Mark Naftain -- keyboards (replaced Nicky Hopkins)

NEW - Mark Ryan -- bass (replaced David Freiberg)

- Dino Valenti (aka Chris Farrow, Jesse Otis Farrow, 

  Chet Powers, Dino Valente) (RIP 1994) -- vocals, rhythm guitar

 

   line up 6 (1970) 
- John Cipollina (RIP 1989) -- guitar, percussion

- Gary Duncan -- vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion
- Greg Elmore - - drums, percussion

- Mark Naftain -- keyboards (replaced Nicky Hopkins)

NEW - Jose Rico Reyes -- percussion, vocals

- Mark Ryan -- bass (replaced David Freiberg)

- Dino Valenti (aka Chris Farrow, Jesse Otis Farrow, 

  Chet Powers, Dino Valente) (RIP 1994) -- vocals, rhythm guitar

 

   line up 7 (1970-71) as Quicksilver
- Gary Duncan -- vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion
- Greg Elmore - - drums, percussion

NEW - Mark Ryan -- bass (replaced David Freiberg)

- Dino Valenti (aka Chris Farrow, Jesse Otis Farrow, 

  Chet Powers, Dino Valente) (RIP 1994) -- vocals, rhythm guitar

NEW - Chuck Steaks -- keyboards (replaced Mark Nattain)

 

   line up 8 (1972-75)

NEW - Harold Aceves -- drums, percussion
- Gary Duncan -- vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion
- Greg Elmore - - drums, percussion

NEW - Bob Flurie -- bass (replaced Mark Ryan)

- Dino Valenti (aka Chris Farrow, Jesse Otis Farrow, 

  Chet Powers, Dino Valente) (RIP 1994) -- vocals, rhythm guitar

NEW - Roger Stanton -- bass (replaced Mark Ryan)

NEW - Chuck Steaks -- keyboards (replaced Mark Naftain)

 

   line up 9 (1975)

NEW - John Cipollina (RIP 1989) -- guitar, percussion
- Gary Duncan -- vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion
- Greg Elmore - - drums, percussion

- David Freiberg - - vocals, guitar, bass

NEW - Michael Lewis -- keyboards (replaced Chuck Steaks)

- Dino Valenti (aka Chris Farrow, Jesse Otis Farrow, 

  Chet Powers, Dino Valente) (RIP 1994) -- vocals, rhythm guitar

 

   line up 10 (1975-79)
- Gary Duncan -- vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion
- Greg Elmore - - drums, percussion

- David Freiberg - - vocals, guitar, bass

NEW - Skip Olsen -- bass (replaced David Freiberg)

- Dino Valenti (aka Chris Farrow, Jesse Otis Farrow, 

  Chet Powers, Dino Valente) (RIP 1994) -- vocals, rhythm guitar

 

   line up11 (2006-08)
- Gary Duncan -- vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion

NEW - John Ferenzik -- bass

- David Freiberg - - vocals, guitar, bass

NEW - Linda Imperial -- vocals

NEW - Prairie Prince -- drums, percussion

NEW - Chris Smith -- keyboards 

 

   line up 12 (2008-09)

NEW- Donny Baldwin -- drums, percussion (replaced Prairie Prince)
- Gary Duncan -- vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion

- John Ferenzik -- bass

- David Freiberg - - vocals, guitar, bass

- Linda Imperial -- vocals

- Chris Smith -- keyboards 

 

 

 

 

- Bodacious D.F.

- The Brogues

Copperhead (John Cipollina)

- Nicky Hopkins (solo efforts)

- Jefferson Airplane (David Freiberg and Nicky Hopkins)

- Jefferson Starship (David Freiberg)

- Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver

- Gary Duncan's Quicksilver

- Dino Valenti (solo efforts)

- Starship (David Freiberg)

 


 

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Just for Love

Company: Capitol

Catalog: ST-498

Year: 1970

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG

Comments: --

Available: 1

Price: $12.00

 

With Duncan and Valenti back in the line up (getting confused?), 1970's "Just for Love" was recorded in Hawaii. As usual, recording sessions proved chaotic, keyboardist Hopkins bailing ship in order to work with The Rolling Stones. He was quickly replaced by former Butterfield Blues Band keyboardist Mark Natalfin (see separate entry). With Duncan and Valenti back, the results were immediately evident; tracks such as "Just for Love", "Gone Again" and the extended "The Hat" moving away from the earlier psychedelic rock moves in favor of a far more commercial and mainstream sound. Released as a single "Fresh Air" b/w "Freeway Flyer" (Capitol catalog number 2920) provided the band with their biggest radio hit. Curiously, to our ears much of the album (particularly Valenti's vocals) suffers from an odd, echoey, metallic sound. Backed by strong reviews, the parent album peaked at #27. (The set was originally released with a gatefold sleeve.) Naturally success brought controversy and strife; 

"Just for Love" track listing:
1.) Wolf Run (Part 1) (instrumental) (Jesse Oris Farrow) - 1:10
2.) Just for Love (Part 1) (Dino Valenti) - 2:55
3.) Cobra (instrumental) (John Cipollina) - 4:20
4.) The Hat (Jesse Oris Farrow) - 10:30
5,) Freeway Flyer (Jesse Oris Farrow) - 3:45
6.) Gone Again (Jesse Oris Farrow) - 7:10
7.) Fresh Air (Jesse Oris Farrow) - 5:20
8.) Just for Love (Part 2) (Dino Valenti) - 1:35
9.) Wolf Run (Part 1) (Jesse Oris Farrow) - 2:05

Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  What About Me

Company: Capitol

Catalog: SMAS-630

Year: 1970

Grade (cover/record): VG/+VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 3

Catalog number: 1239

Price: $12.00

 

This mid-career Quicksilver Messenger Service album tends to get middling reviews from critics and fans, but over the years I've grown to appreciate it for more than the title track.  Is it there best album ?  Nope, but in spite of an irritatingly flat production sound (much of the album sounding like it had been recorded in a subway station), it was far better than you would expect from the write-ups. 

 

With personality issues raising their ugly heads (Valenti apparently rubbed several members the wrong way),1970's "What About Me" was released within months of their previous album.   Apparently meant as somewhat of a stopgap effort while the band settled internal issues, the collection included several tracks recorded during the earlier "Just for Love" Hawaii sessions.  Given the circumstance the album was far better than you would have expected; certainly their most enjoyable effort in several years. Writing under the name Jesse Oris Farrow, Valenti was again responsible for the majority of the album's ten tracks.  Clearly reflecting their growing dissatisfaction in the band, John Cipollina, David Freiberg, and Nicky Hopkins were each represented by one composition.  Musically the set was quite diverse; highlights including the classic anti-establishment title track, the rocker 'Subway' and three of the group's prettiest numbers ('Baby Baby', 'Long Haired Lady', and the Hopkins penned instrumental 'Spindrifter'). Sure, there were a couple of missteps.  Freiberg's C&W influenced 'Won't Kill Me' and the jazzy, bossa nova-tinged 'All In My Mind' weren't  particularly entertaining,, but in spite of occasional missteps the overall results were quite impressive.   Another strong seller, the set hit # 26 on the US album charts.   

 

Unfortunately, shortly after the album was released Cipollina quit, reappearing with the band Copperhead.  The album also proved to be Hopkins last release with the band.  Adding to the turmoil, bassist Freiberg found himself busted on a third drug charge and ended up in jail. 

"What About Me" track listing:

(side 1)
1.) What About Me  (Jesse Oris Farrow) - 6:43

One of the most attractive songs they ever recorded.  I guess I never thought of these guys as having an activist agenda, but in hindsight 'What About Me' was quite insightful with lyrics that managed to take on ecological disaster, unhappiness with the 4th estate, demographic changes that would shake the American landscape; unhappiness with Vietnam (a requirement for any San Francisco band), changing public views on drugs ...  wow, the whole counter-culture agenda packed into a nifty, percussion heavy, and dance-ready package.  Wonder why I never really noticed the funky horns before ...  Capitol marketing was at least smart enough to release an edited version as a single - want to guess what segments of the lyrics hit the chopping block ?    rating: **** stars
2.) Local Color (instrumental)  (John Cipollina) - 3:00

Cipollina's lone contribution to the album, 'Local Color' started out as a bluesy instrumental that showcased his impressive acoustic slide guitar work.  About halfway through he added some blazing electric guitar to the mix.  Even if you weren't a big blues fan, you had to admire the guy's chops.    rating: ** stars
3.) Baby Baby  (Jesse Oris Farrow) - 4:44

Dino Valenti's nasally voice has always been an acquired taste for me and surrounding him with a country-tinged melody didn't  seem to be the smartest you could make.  Hearing Valenti squeeze a country twang into his delivery initially made me shudder, but luckily, the song had some sweet harmony vocals that at least momentarily took some of the attention off of Valenti.   Not sure where it was filmed, but YouTube has an entertaining live performance of the tune at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Dr1QoDsz3s   rating: *** stars
4.) Won't Kill Me  (David Freiberg) - 2:32

Straightforward acoustic country-blues that exploded into a slightly better Hopkins keyboard-propelled good-timey number.  I'll admit that after a couple of cold beers this one sounds much better.  Easy to see why Freiberg didn't get to sing all that often.   rating; *** stars
5.) Long Haired Lady  (Jesse Oris Farrow) - 5:55

Starting out with a raga and psychedelic influence, 'Long Haired Lady' was one of the prettiest things the band ever recorded.   The song also found Valenti turning in one of his most impassioned vocals.  rating: **** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) Subway  (Gary Duncan - Jesse Oris Farrow) - 4:29

You don't usually equate QMS with funky rock tunes, but 'Subway' was one of those rare exception.   Hard to believe these San Francisco hippies would be able to pull it off, but they managed to cough up an enjoyable dance number with some nice Duncan-Cipollina twin guitar moves.    rating: **** stars
2.) Spindrifter (instrumental)  (Nicky Hopkins) - 4:38

One of the prettiest melodies Hopkins ever wrote, though the piano-powered instrumental felt a mid MOR-ish and sounded strangely out of place on the album.   rating: *** stars
3.) Good Old Rock and Roll  (Jesse Oris Farrow) - 2:30

Nice martial paced rocker, though Valenti's vocals sounded like they'd been recoded it in a gym shower.   rating; *** stars
4.) All In My Mind (Gary Duncan - Jesse Oris Farrow) - 3:48

Hum, QMS doing a bossa nova tune ?   Yup.   Certainly unexpected, but kind of cool with Duncan turning in a nice Flamenco-styled lead guitar.   Definitely the album's biggest surprise.   rating: *** stars
5.) Call On Me  (Jesse Oris Farrow) - 7:36

And tacked on to the end of the album was the collections most commercial tune; a radio friendly country-rocker that sported a great melody; then-trendy horns; Latin percussion, a strong Valenti vocal, and some of the band's frequently overlooked sterling harmony vocals.  What wasn't there to like on this one ?   rating: **** stars

 

The single was:

 

  

- 1970's 'What About Me' b/w 'Good Old Rock 'N' Roll' (Capitol catalog number 3046)

 

 

 

Always loved the Michael Cantrell gatefold cover art.

 

 

 

 

 


Genre: rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Quicksilver

Company: Capitol

Catalog: SW-819

Year: 1971

Grade (cover/record): VG/+VG+

Comments: minor ring, edge and corner wear

Available: 2

Catalog number: 1237

Price: $10.00

 

 

Prior to the release of 1970's "Quicksiilver" David Freiberg was arrested on a third drug charge which saw him jailed for three months - he subsequently reappeared as a member of The Jefferson Airplane.  Freiberg's incarceration saw the band hire Mark Ryan as a replacement on bass.  At the same time keyboardist Mark Nattain left, quickly replaced by Chuck Steaks.   Interestingly, faced with having to operate with a piecemeal lineup,1971's "Quicksilver" was surprisingly impressive. Creatively the group was rapidly becoming little more than a backing outfit for David Valenti (who was credited with penning eight of ten selections.)  Guitarist Gary Duncan contributed the two other compositions. While that may have sounded like a creative death knoll, Valenti turned in some of his most impressive material; 'Hope', 'Out of My Mind' (sporting a surprising anti-drug lyric), and the country-flavored ballad 'Don't Cry My Lady Love' all standing among the band's best work.  Personal favorites, Duncan's dark and psychedelic  'Fire Brothers' and the wild 'Rebel' (check out the whooping and yelling). After all the years standing in John   's shadow, Duncan also took advantage of the personnel shake-up to demonstrate his technical facility.  I'm a big guitar fan, but Duncan seemingly crammed every free space on the album with his piercing guitar.  To my ears it quickly became a source of irritation (check out 'r').  Given it was one of their most commercial outings and probably the most consistent of their late-inning career, it was interesting to note the set proved a commercial disappointment, peaking at # 114.

"Quicksilver" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Hope (Dino Valenti) - 3:00

Sporting  a very likeable mid-'60s vibe, 'Hope' started the album with an unexpected folk-rock tune. Echoes of Scott McKenzie's 'San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)'.   Who knew Dino Valenti had it in him.  Nice opener.   rating: *** stars
2.) I Found Love (Gary Duncan) - 2:53

Another surprise - who would have expected these guys to come up with a breezy, almost '50s influenced rocker ?  Not only that, but the song was highly commercial.  For goodness sakes, a happy Quicksilver song !!!   Capitol tapped it as the single.  rating: **** stars
3.) Song for Frisco (Dino Valenti) - 4:56

Instantly recognizable as a QMS tune ...  Valenti sounded a little uncomfortable on this one; particularly when stretching for the higher notes, but it was one of the prettier tunes he'd ever wrote.    rating: **** stars
4.) Play My Guitar (Dino Valenti) - 4:41

Nice rocker that was seemingly intended as a showcase for Duncan's chronic overplaying, though it didn't sound bad in this environment.  Valenti almost sounded hippy-funky on this one.   rating:*** stars
5.) Rebel (Dino Valenti) - 2:59

One of the funniest things they ever wrote and recorded, the thought of these San Francisco hippies identifying with a bunch of Confederate rebels was a hoot.   Still, there was lots of energy and the in-studio screams and shouts were a blast.  rating: **** stars

 

(side 2)
6.) Fire Brothers (Gary Duncan) - 3:07

Duncan's second song and the album's most dark and psychedelic performance.   Interestingly Duncan kept the guitar pyrotechnics down to a strumming acoustic allowing keyboardist Chuck Steaks to carry the melody.   Duncan also handled the lead vocal.   Kind of a post-apocalyptic 'Wooden Ships' feel here.    rating: **** stars
7.) Out of My Mind (Dino Valenti) - 4:37

Surprisingly subdued acoustic ballad with some highly personal Valenti lyrics - never quite figured out if it was an anti-drug tract, or Valenti was simply mulling over his own mental health issues.   Pretty.  rating: **** stars
8.) Don't Cry My Lady Love (Dino Valenti) - 5:10

The vocals sounded like they'd recorded this one in a subway tunnel, but propelled by some gentle Mark Steaks barrelhouse piano, 'Don't Cry My Lady Love' had a beautiful, old-timey feel to it.   Sweet and comforting.   rating: **** stars
9.) The Truth (Dino Valenti) - 6:56

And for anyone wondering what happened to the band's classic sound, there was the closer - 'The Truth'.  Even though it was almost seven minutes long and included quite a bit of jamming, this was easily the album's most mainstream and commercial rocker with some unexpectedly insightful and thought provoking lyrics (coming from a guy with more than his share of personal problems at that point in time).  It's always reminded me a bit of their classic 'Fresh Air' period.   rating: **** stars

 

 

As mentioned above, the album's single was:

 

  

 

- 1071's 'I Found Love' b/w 'Hope''  (Capitol catalog number 3233)

 

 


 

Gerre: psych

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Anthology

Company: Capitol

Catalog: SVBB-11165

Year: 1973

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG+

Comments: double LP; gatefold sleeve; minor ring, edge and corner wear; slight bottom seam splitting

Available: 2

Catalog number: 1241

Price: $15.00

 

A double album, 16 track retrospective, 1973's "Anthology" served as a a decent career retrospective. Like any retrospective, fans could argue endlessly over what was included and what had been left off.  Had I been asked, I would have voted for 'The Truth' off of  1971's "Quicksilver".  Regardless, hearing it for the first time in several years, I was immediately struck by the depth of band's talent (five members contributing material) and versatility - checkout the first side which effortlessly bounced between catchy top-40 pop ('Dino's Song') and extended psych jams (the 12 minute plus 'The Fool'). Among the few complaints; the absence of any previously unreleased gems and the lack of detailed liner notes. All you got were writing and performance credits. Given the band's next to invisible profile, and the fact it was a double LP, the set sold respectably, peaking at # 108.

"Anthology" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Pride of Man (Hamilton Camp) - 4:05
2.) Dino's Song (Dino Valenti) - 3:03
3.) The Fool (Gary Duncan - David Freiberg) - 12:03

 

(side 2)
1.) Bears (Roger Perkins) - 2:06
2.) Mona (Eugene McDaniels) - 6:53
3.) Edward, The Mad Shirt Grinder (Nicky Hopkins) - 9:20

 

(side 3)
1.) Three of Four Feet From Home (John Cipollina) - 3:04
2.) Fresh Air (Jesse Oris Farrow) - 5:18
3.) Just for Love (Dino Valenti) - 4:30
4.) Spindrifter (instrumental) (Nicky Hopkins) - 4:32

One of the prettiest melodies Hopkins ever wrote, though the piano-powered instrumental felt a mid MOR-ish and sounded strangely out of place on "What About Me".   rating: *** stars
5.) Local Color (instrumental) (John Cipollina) - 2:58

Cipollina's lone contribution to the "What About Me" album, 'Local Color' started out as a bluesy instrumental that showcased his impressive acoustic slide guitar work.  About halfway through he added some blazing electric guitar to the mix.  Even if you weren't a big blues fan, you had to admire the guy's chops.    rating: ** stars

 

(side 4)
1.) What About Me (Jesse Oris Farrow) - 6:41

One of the most attractive songs they ever recorded.  I guess I never thought of these guys as having an activist agenda, but in hindsight 'What About Me' was quite insightful with lyrics that managed to take on ecological disaster, unhappiness with the 4th estate, demographic changes that would shake the American landscape; unhappiness with Vietnam (a requirement for any San Francisco band), changing public views on drugs ...  wow, the whole counter-culture agenda packed into a nifty, percussion heavy, and dance-ready package.  Wonder why I never really noticed the funky horns before ...  Capitol marketing was at least smart enough to release an edited version as a single - want to guess what segments of the lyrics hit the chopping block ?    rating: **** stars
2.) Don't Cry My Lady Love (Dino Valenti) - 5:10

The vocals sounded like they'd recorded this one in a subway tunnel, but propelled by some gentle Mark Steaks barrelhouse piano, 'Don't Cry My Lady Love' had a beautiful, old-timey feel to it.   Sweet and comforting.   rating: **** stars
3.) Hope (Dino Valenti) - 3:00

Sporting  a very likeable mid-'60s vibe, 'Hope' started the album with an unexpected folk-rock tune. Echoes of Scott McKenzie's 'San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)'.   Who knew Dino Valenti had it in him.  Nice opener.   rating: *** stars
4.) Fire Brothers (Gary Duncan ) - 3:09

One of two Duncan penned tunes on 1971's "Quicksilver" and the album's most dark and psychedelic performance.   Interestingly Duncan kept the guitar pyrotechnics down to a strumming acoustic allowing keyboardist Chuck Steaks to carry the melody.   Duncan also handled the lead vocal.   Kind of a post-apocalyptic 'Wooden Ships' feel here.    rating: **** stars
5.) I Found Love (Gary Duncan ) - 3:53

Another surprise - who would have expected these guys to come up with a breezy, almost '50s influenced rocker ?  Not only that, but the song was highly commercial.  For goodness sakes, a happy Quicksilver song !!!   Capitol tapped it as the single.  rating: **** stars

 


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