29 March 2013

29th March - Quicksilver Messenger Service's Happy Trails

Artist – Album: Quicksilver Messenger Service – Happy Trails
Released:  29th March 1969
Sounds Like: How Much Do You Love (psychedelic jams)?

How much you like Quick Silver Messenger Services’ Happy Trails depends an awful lot on how much you love great big, protracted guitar solos. A friend of mine (the guitarist/vocalist in a hitherto unnamed Nottingham band) was recently moaning to me about songs that overuse the guitar solo; how they‘re just speedy progressions through scales performed by pompous wankers. But he does like to moan a lot. Similarly, another guitarist friend (who used to carve up the fretboard in my shortlived teenage band The Cornerstones) completely denounced simple pop songs and melodies and fully embraced the jazzy jams performed by mostly unknown guitar gods such as Mike Walker. Although by no means jazz, Happy Trails is likely to satisfy the second friend more than the first. But, as I said, the first friend likes to moan a lot, so really it’s win win.
The first half of Happy Trails is one long extended jam through Bo Diddley’s classic ‘Who Do You Love’, split into 5 parts. Every last ounce of cool is squeezed from the tune, as the group’s shifting emphasis focuses on the rhythm, then the guitars, then the drums, then the vocals, then the guitars again. You’re never but a few seconds away from a blistering lick or solo.
It’s said that listening to this album is the closest you can get to experiencing what it was like to see their critically acclaimed live performances. This, for me, is the crux of the problem. It’s quite clear that it would have been awesome to have been there, to see the original Quicksilver Messenger Service quartet play. But live albums tend to disappoint unless you’ve experienced the band yourself. You can’t see the group play, you can’t see the dynamics between them and the crowd and the way they bounce off each other; the rush of rocking tracks and the sentiment of ballads are dimmed when they’re heard solely through your laptop speakers.
Unfortunately, for me, this album is a sorry substitute for watching a great live band play live.
Albumaday... rating: 6/10

1.       Who Do You Love? Part 1 – 3:32
2.       When You Love – 5:15
3.       Where You Love – 6:07
4.       How You Love – 2:45
5.       Which Do You Love – 1:49
6.       Who Do You Love? Part 2 – 5:51
7.       Mona – 7:01
8.       Maiden of the Cancer Moon – 2:54
9.       Calvary – 13:31
10.   Happy Trails – 1:29

Listen to ‘Who Do You Love? Part 1 ’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTeArrWk2qI

Also released on the 29th March:
1994: Ali Farka Toure/Ry Cooder – Talking Timbuktu

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