Wharfrat99's Concert Photos|
Recent concert photos of Gary Duncan's Quicksilver and upcoming concert information for the group.
The John Cipollina Homepage|
Information about the late guitarist, a founding member of Quicksilver Messenger Service.
Shady Grove - The Quicksilver Messenger Service Page|
Official site with information about the history of and current incarnation of the band.
Shady Grove (Audio CD),11 July, 2000|
List price $17.98
Nicky Hopkins tries to jump start QMS, with a limited degree of success / 3
For years, decades actually, I could not name another song by Quicksilver Messenger Service other than the title track from this 1969 album, which was the group's third release. I really like the song, or I should say that I really liked the introduction to the song, with the pounding piano and the guitar of John Cipollina slowly winding up to the basic theme of the song. The song itself is okay (if it was a bit better I might have decided to have picked up the album before the decade ran out), but the introduction is absolutely great. Now that I have checked out the album I am slapping my head over not recognizing the keyboard stylings of Nicky Hopkins on the piano. But then you say the name Nicky Hopkins and you think of him playing sessions with the Rolling Stones for albums like "Their Satanic Majesties Request" and "Let It Bleed." But he also worked with the Beatles on "The White Album," as well as the Kinks, the Who, and the Jefferson Airplane. That last one probably explains why he ended up with a psychedelic group out of San Francisco.
The other thing I was surprised to learn several years back was that "Shady Grove" is not an original composition but an Appalachian folk song. The Kingston Trio did a really nice medley of it with "Lonesome Traveler," and if you want something more authentic you can go track down Doc Watson doing the purest bluegrass version I have come across to date. Despite the frenzied piano playing that sets up the song, when Quicksilver Messenger Service does it they sure sound to me like they are channeling Bo Diddley more than Doc Watson. Still, when I was putting together my own set of folk music CDs and I started putting together one devoted to folk rock, this had to be the opening track (followed by Led Zeppelin's "Gallows Pole"). On balance this is still just a near-great song, and the bad news is that the rest of the album is as inconsistent as the opening track.
From what I have heard of the first two QMS albums, and as I can see just by looking at their play lists, the group was more into jamming than anything else (each album has a track in double-digits in length, "The Fool" and "Calvary" respectively). Adding Hopkins into the mix certainly changed the group's direction and sound, although the subtraction of guitarist Gary Duncan probably played a key role as well. Ironically the longest track on the album comes courtesy of Hopkins. "Edward, the Mad Shirt Grinder," which slows down the album to almost a dead stop at one point on the last track after offering some decent instrumental moments. "The Flute Song" quickly reminds you that is a psychedelic group and if you play this album for somebody who has never heard it they will probably ask you what group is doing the second song in this collection of forgotten late Sixties music.
Time and time again Hopkins's piano playing stands out despite the best efforts of the rest of the band to drown him out at times. It is the best part of the rollicking' "Three or Four Feet From Home," the pretentious sounding "Too Far," and "Word's Can't Say," the last one being a reminder that QMS was not only hung up on western cowboy images for the covers of their albums, but tried to move musically in that direction without noticeably success. "Joseph's Coat" is a blue song that badly needs to be remixed (and a rewrite of the lyrics would be in order as well), and "Flashing Lonesome" is another forgettable trippy little tune. Then there is "Holy Moly," which should have been the last track on the album, because there is nothing to say after that one. If you are an absolute hard core devote of psychedelic music then you might find another track of interest besides "Shady Grove," but now that I have actually heard this album I am right back where I started.
Song "Light Your Windows"
Hold on girl, now don't be blue, dry those tears for me and you,
Can't you see our love is true, when you remember,
To do just what you say you'll do, can't you see I live for you,
And I need you to trust me too, open your eyes,
So the sun can shine lights in you, will light on your windows,
And change all your baby blues to golden sparks that light your eyes,
When you finally realize that your fears were all just lies,
So open those eyes and let the sun shine lights in you,
Light on your windows and take all your baby blues.
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