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Quicksilver Messenger Service - Castles In The Sand (1969-1970)



John Cipollina - Guitar
Dino Valente - Vocals
David Freiberg - Bass, Vocals
Nicky Hopkins - Piano
Greg Elmore - Drums

"Most of the songs, a couple of them running for nearly nine minutes each, were never to appear on album, although they featured in the group’s concerts. As well as working on new songs such as 'Subway' and the rarely-performed 'The Fool', the band run through several country, gospel and blues standards that they were familiar with, such as 'I Know You Rider', 'Walk In Jerusalem', Hank Williams' 'May You Never Be Alone' and Cindy Walker's 'Warm Red Wine'."

"The record is about this: Dino Valente was Cesar Millan, and the great musicians of QMS were his dogs. He was pack leader from the end of 1969, they obeyed his every command. Valente was good at lyrics and lousy at instrumentals. QMS were Meister instrumentalists. But Valente took charge of the instrumentals. "Castles in the sand" shows how ordinary--and even less than ordinary--QMS musicians became with Valente as pack leader. They know it; as a fly on the wall, you get to hear Elmore and Duncan get explicitly berated by Valente for being asleep while playing. When Cippolina starts to do more than just play rhythm backing, Valente stops the tape. No other egos allowed. This record shows that QMS musicians lost their spirit and their ability to play extraordinary music. The result: this record is really boring. Flat line boring.

I do not want to discourage Charly from putting out unreleased QMS material; there is lots of great stuff out there. Charly just needs to hire someone who knows good music from bad... this record is in reality not a QMS record---these guys were just dependent sidemen for Dino session." (Gregory Satrr)

"I strongly believe that this Quicksilver Messenger Service release "Castles In The Sand", which consists of tracks, recorded in a Jam situation, and works in progress, (from 1969-1970) whilst not being the first port of call for people new to Q.M.S, is still interesting enough for a casual listen. In retrospect it really plays like a country blues jam, on the porch, and is very laid back, which is o.k for a relaxing listen.

Dino Valente's vocals, are high pitched and quite soulful in these improvisations, Greg Elmore's drums are workmanlike and confident, David Freiberg's bass is good, and Nicky Hopkins piano playing is o.k too, John Cippollina's amazing guitar work is NOT evident on this release, it's all strumming and fills, NO electric freakout on display here. If you want the electric Q.M.S, get "Happy Trails" or the excellent, "Q.M.S - Sons of Mercury" compilation. (2 CD set) All up. It's still vintage material, by a band striving for a new direction, finding roots and picking fruits from the vast orchard of American musical history, it's great to hear this, I think.

Once you get over any initial disappointment, regarding this release, I would still recommend this to anyone who thinks being in a band, and recording music is easy, this really drives home the fact that all art is 99 percent perspiration, and only One percent inspiration!" (Oannes)

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