This album was released in the spring of 1968, a year that produced a great deal of music that's now very hard to listen to. Even the Grateful Dead didn't hit their stride until the "Live/Dead" album of 1969. The Doors were in a slump, the Beatles were at each other's throats, and even the Rolling Stones wouldn't break their British Invasion mold and come into their own until the next year, with "Let It Bleed."
There's a gleeful sloppiness to this album. At this time, many garage bands were producing material of their own (remember the Strangeloves' "I Want Candy"?), but there's something different about Quicksilver Messenger Service. Though this sounds like a garage album, it's a garage album by a band of extraordinary talent and discipline.
From the opening notes of "Pride of Man," a grossly overlooked anti-war anthem that more peace advocates today should utilize, we're bowled over by the skill and quality of the band. In particular, the guitar majesty of the late John Cippollina leaves any number of current lesser imitators in the dust. The songwriting leaves something to be desired on most tracks, but Quicksilver Messenger Service was never a songwriters' band. They have the chops to cover shaky lyrics, and it's difficult to weary of listening to them.
In a day when studio tricks have washed out the human qualities of most rock bands, this album sounds like there's real human beings, playing in concert, right here. The very elements that make it dated make it desirable from a music lover's point of view. Not everyone will like it--ir represents values that have now gone out of date--but for those who appreciate solid playing and honest artistry in their rock, this is an album to be treasured.
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