Jim Murray - vocals, guitar
John Cipollina - vocals, guitar
Gary Duncan - vocals, guitar
David Frieberg - bass, vocals
Greg Elmore - drums
This run of five shows opening for Jefferson Airplane offers a fascinating glimpse into early Quicksilver Messenger Service. The band was still a quintet, with Jim Murray as primary lead vocalist. Although they had begun developing original songs, were still primarily playing cover material in concert. The repertoire veered toward electrified covers of contemporary folk and blues songs, with a heavy nod to Bo Diddley. The unique, intertwining lead guitar sound of Cipollina and Duncan was already becoming quite distinctive, and one can clearly hear why Quicksilver was being considered one of the most exciting bands in San Francisco at the time. Because so much of their material from this era remains unreleased, these shows provide a wealth of songs that were previously unavailable commercially. Several classic songs that did appear on their first and second albums are heard here in embryonic form, however, still ripe with potential.
In all reality, these QMS sets help to capture a turning point not only in their contemporary music scene, but in the general culture as well. Artists were just beginning to embrace spontaneity and experimentation in their work, and these 1967 sets reveal the band taking their earliest steps in that direction. To help put these shows in context, the first QMS album was still a year away, and Jefferson Airplane's Surrealistic Pillow LP had been released that same month, bringing the San Francisco music and dance hall scene into the national spotlight for the first time.
Like the afternoon set from earlier this day, this second Quicksilver Messenger Service set of the run gives additional insight into the influences that helped shape the band's sound - as well as a few hints as to what direction that sound would take in the near future. Again, the set features several interesting blues arrangements that the band often performed during this era, although none are repeats from the afternoon set. Hear the band tackle "Walkin' Blues" and "Hoochie Coochie Man." Neither of these songs would ever make it onto a proper QMS album, although the former would remain in their repertoire for another year or two. They also include the other song that was released on the rare Revolution movie soundtrack, "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You," a song later covered by Led Zeppelin to great effect.
The biggest surprises here include an excellent version of the pop hit "Stand By Me," with David Frieberg handling the lead vocals, and "Duncan And Brady," an old traditional, later recorded by The New Riders of the Purple Sage. Otherwise, the set reflects the direction in which the band would soon be heading. Three early versions of tracks that would feature on their debut album are included.
The set kicks off with "Dino's Song" (written by Dino Valenti), and also includes Hamilton Camp's "Pride Of Man." These two songs had perhaps the most commercial potential of anything the band was currently performing, and would soon be included on their first album (as would "It's Been Too Long"). The set-closing "Who Do You Love" is tame in comparison to the half hour excursions it would soon inspire, but as with the "Mona" from the afternoon set, one can clearly hear the birth of the sound the band would soon explore in-depth on their classic Happy Trails album two years later.