Tuesday, 29 November 2016

"Just For Love" by QUICKSILVER MESSENGER SERVICE [feat Dino Valenti, John Cipollina and Nicky Hopkins] (December 1992 Beat Goes On CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"...It's Alright With Me..."

Recorded in and around the beautiful at-one-with-nature Opaelua Lodge in Hawaii in May and June of 1970 - Quicksilver Messenger Service's 4th album certainly looked the part with its tasty Capitol Records gatefold cover and colour collage of the boys on the inner gatefold giving in some live aloha homage to the Goddess Pele.

I’ve always thought "Just For Love" to be bloody genius - but with the album’s space-filling meandering instrumentals that seemed to be in search of a song amidst the drugs and grass skirts – and those ever-so-slightly irritating echoed vocals by someone clearly just about holding it together - not everyone was so 'peaced out' when it was released. I've always thought "Just For Love" a product of the times – something that must be taken on face value (the Sixties still hanging on in a haze of mind altering substances). But me - I adore that sloppy feel - like QMS has suddenly morphed into a melodic Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young having way too much fun in the studio and not caring about the placing of the microphones (juts play and feel it boys). Here is the world's most reasonable non-druggy review...

UK released December 1992 (reissued many times since including the latest December 2008) - "Just For Love" by QUICKSILVER MESSENGER SERVICE on Beat Goes On BGOCD 141 (Barcode 5017261201416) is a straightforward CD Remaster of the 9-track 1970 US LP and plays out as follows (39:31 minutes):

1. Wolf Run (Part 1)
2. Just For Love (Part 1)
3. Cobra
4. The Hat
5. Freeway Flyer [Side 2]
6. Gone Again
7. Fresh Air
8. Just For Love (Part 2)
9. Wolf Run (Part 2)
Tracks 1 to 9 are their fourth album "Just For Love" - released August 1970 in the USA on Capitol SMAS-498 and November 1970 in the UK on Capitol EA-ST 498. Produced by JOHN SELBY - it peaked at No. 27 in the USA (didn't chart UK)

DINO VALENTI - Lead Vocals, Guitar, Congas and Flute
GARY DUNCAN - Lead Electric and Acoustic Guitars and Maracas
JOHN CIPOLLINA - Lead Electric and Slide Guitar
DAVID FREIBERG - Bass Guitar, Guitar and Vocals
GREGORY ELMORE - Drums and Percussion
NICKY HOPKINS (Guest) - Piano

The 8-page inlay doesn't feature liners notes (bummer that) but it does reproduce that beautifully laid out Capitol Records gatefold cover art of 1970. The colour-collage is spread across the centre-pages whilst the 'world's most magical brat' and 'world's most rhythmic mystic' annotation is reproduced on the other pages (Dan Healy is the 'wired wizard' Engineer etc). Truth be told – BGO could do with upgrading the presentation of this reissue – I for one think the music deserves such a treat (big booklet, card slipcase etc).

It doesn't say which engineer Remastered the album at Sound Engineering Technology in Cambridge in 1992 (sounds like Duncan Cowell?) – but they did a stomping good job. Always a sloppy recording and perhaps not to everyone's taste – it's this very element that I love most about "Just For Love" and that's been kept in tact sweetly by this tasty transfer.

The re-introduction of the volatile Valenti into the ranks along with the guitar magic of Cipollina (would later form Copperhead) trading off against Gary Duncan while England's Nicky Hopkins adds the whole sound stage a classiness on his old piano - added up to a powerhouse unit.

A Flute and Tabla open Part 1 of the short instrumental "Wolf Run" – a sort of precursor to the who-gives-a-monkeys stuff to come. Then Part 1 of the title track "Just For Love" features Valenti who seems to wander up to and away from the microphone as he warbles on about being "touched softly" and being "free as the wind" (yeah baby). Huge drums introduce the wickedly good slightly country-ish "Cobra" which sounds like Gram Parsons is about to rock out – guitars flicking as a funky piano anchors proceedings. The ten-minute Side1 finisher "The Hat" is the kind of Stephen Stills-Band-Van Morrison acoustic-guitar sloppy work out that I adore. It's loose and feels improvised for sure and of course it overstays its welcome in places - but actually I quite like that and the band's chemistry is incredible as Gary Duncan proves his 'world's most funky saint' moniker in the liner notes while Valenti moans the vocals and Nicky Hopkins earns his stunning piano-playing sessionman reputation.

"...Let's try one more..." comes the count in for the band on the rollicking Side 2 opener "Freeway Flyer" where QMS sound like a drugged out Band letting rip on lyrics like 'dangerous stranger' rhyming with 'Psychedelic stranger'. Freiberg and Elmore keep the Bass and Drums rhythm section tight yet loose as Cipollina wigs out of Electric Guitar (I'm reminded of that in-house-jam feel guitarists Danny Kirwan and Jeremy Spencer got to their "Kiln House" LP for Fleetwood Mac also in 1970). That's followed by the lovely and very Hawaiian-peaceful seven minutes of "Gone Again" - the strummed guitar - the echoed vocals - the distant piano plinking as he sings "...my mind gets lonely...my crazy heart starts to gambling..." - I've always thought this one of this inexplicably gorgeous blissed out songs that feels right on a Sunday morning coming down ("...letting go feels so groovy now..."). There’s an almost Beach Boys quality to the band’s harmony vocal work on the ‘have another hit’ of "Fresh Air" – and dig the stunning piano work from Nicky Hopkins and Valenti’s impassioned ‘take me home with you’ vocals. It ends on two short snippets – Valenti singing of masquerades and the end of charades in the wildly echoed Part 2 of "Just For Love" while Part 2 of "Wolf Run" sounds cool and all hippyish if not a little pointless.

There are many (and will be many) who think much of "Just For Love" is a band faffing about and producing genius amidst the knob with perhaps too much emphasis on the whimsy. But I for one dig it the most.

"...Whatever you're doing...it's alright with me..." - Dino Valenti sings as the mighty ten-minutes of "The Hat" starts to fade out. Amen to that man...

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