Listen: Fresh Air / Quicksilver Messenger Service 01 Fresh Air.mp3
I was somehow attracted to them – as with both Big Brother & The Holding Company and Blue Cheer. All from San Francisco, all sporting super long hair – two things arrogantly against my better judgement at the time, yet I liked them still. Quicksilver were cursed with a forever tinny sound, oddly devoid of any mid-range, negatively enhancing the shrill of Dino Valenti’s vocals. Combine that with Capitol’s nasty habit of using recycled vinyl (ever notice the pops and crackles on all those pressings) and you should have a recipe for disaster but still – I liked them. Now some of their singles (‘Hope’, ‘Bears’) were……so not ‘singles’, that they attracted me even more. And then some were super great ‘Pride Of Man’ (I heard this once on late night Boston radio), ‘Shady Grove’ (shrill overkill) and ‘What About Me’. Lyrically, very period and very Haight-Ashbury. The secret weapon for Quicksilver was undoubtably guitarist John Cipolinna. His sound was so unique, he just scared off any potential imitators. I was lucky enough to see him play a few times in his later years – thankfully nothing had changed, not the hair, clothes, sound or sideburns. Oh, then there was the name: Quicksilver Messenger Service. Names are really important. They are the first thing to get you curious, to invite you in, then ultimately represent. This one really, really worked.