Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Quicksilver Messenger Service
After the old man yelled for months, our big sister got a job – which leaves lots of time for us to peruse the record collection in her bedroom. Today we found a true psychedelic relic – Happy Trails by Quicksilver Messenger Service. At least I have always heard it is a classic; it sure doesn’t sound that way to me.
Fire up a fat one: this is certainly a record best enjoyed with a little, ah, stimulation. Released in 1969, Happy Trails is the San Francisco band’s second album and it was recorded mostly live, mainly at the Fillmore East and West auditoriums. With the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver was one of the big “jam” bands of the Frisco hippie daze and side one of Happy Trails establishes their credentials.
Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love” goes through 25 minutes of tempo changes, guitar pyrotechnics from John Cipollina and Gary Duncan, some trippy bass work from David Freiberg. And that takes up all of Side One of the record – what, you weren’t high? You better charge one up and listen again … yeeeeeah. This is the side that people seem to like the most, and probably the reason behind the record’s reputation. I must admit, it has its moments.
Side Two keeps a thumpin’ to the Diddley beat with “Mona,” a little more of the same with nice work on the wah-wah by Cipollina. He also shines in the next tune, a little instrumental called “Maiden of the Cancer Moon,” then goes deep into Miles Davis-land with the ultra-psychedelic “Cavalry.” Thirteen minutes of flamenco flavored jam, with a little taste of LSD.
And then we get to the final song, a short cover of Dale Evans’ “Happy Trails,” tacked on as a goof. Nice way to end the party, I guess, especially if you’re coming down off the stoned buzz you need to get through the rest of the record. I can enjoy extended, Dead-like jams as much as the next old hippie, but I dunno – Happy Trails doesn’t spark my bong.