Live at the Winterland Ballroom, December 1, 1973
Quicksilver Messenger Service
Reviewed by Michael Lohr
From the dusty pages of musical history comes a previously lost concert from the legendary, if not severely underrated, Quicksilver Messenger Service. Recorded live in 1973 at the equally legendary Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco, California, this release displays one of the primary anchors of the San Francisco psychedelic rock scene in full stride.
By 1973, founding guitarist John Cipollina had left QMS to form his own band Copperhead, but for this gig Copperhead had been the opening act and Cipollina agreed to sit in on the QMS gig. The results were hard rocking, early 1970s musical magic.
The opening track “Losing Hand” is a full on swamp fuzz blast that would be at home on an Allman Brothers or early Lynyrd Skynyrd album. On “Play My Guitar,” Cipollina and second guitarist Gary Duncan exchange dueling lead lines in an Allman/Betts inspired jam. “Mojo” is heavier and much more ferocious live than the studio version and in my opinion the quintessential QMS song here and perhaps overall. Vocalist Dino Valenti never sounded more focused and composed. And of course the prerequisite QMS cover song “Who Do You Love” is included in this set and comes with an almost eleven minute jam session (broken into two parts) at the end.
For anyone who is a Classic Rock fan or 1960s rock music aficionado, this is a must have recording of a rare concert when the band in question was firing on all cylinders. For this style of music, it doesn’t get much better than this!