Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Quicksilver Messenger Service

  • Shady Grove [Capitol, 1969] C+
  • Just for Love [Capitol, 1970] B-
  • What About Me [Capitol, 1970] C-
  • Anthology [Capitol, 1973] C+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Shady Grove [Capitol, 1969]
Despite the presence of Nicky Hopkins--whose taste in groups is less than extraordinary anyway; he does consort with Jeff Beck--this is yet another not-quite record for the fabled Frisco foursome, inspiring the musical question: "What's the big deal?" C+

Just for Love [Capitol, 1970]
Whether Happy Trails is one of the great live albums or (my theory) one of the greatly overrated ones, Quicksilver needn't have bothered--their studio LPs capture that ballroom ambience right down to the echoed vocals and the imprecise impressionistic accompaniment. And though the debut is more listenable, this beats it for sheer documentary charm. Complete with twin guitars and a "Ladies Section" on the jacket comprising twenty-six first names, here is the quintessential Frisco band--its writing folky without the roots, its playing jazzy without the chops, its concepts unencumbered by any sense of form. The big news is the return of Dino Valenti, but the big attraction is the quintessential Quicksilver anthem, "Fresh Air," as in "Have another hit." Plus those twin guitars--John Cipollina and Gary Duncan, we salute you. B-

What About Me [Capitol, 1970]
From the self-righteous "political" singalong to the putdown of New York to the phony samba to the horny production number, this is what people don't like about hippies. Another thing they don't like about hippies is that Dino Valenti is a hippy. C-

Anthology [Capitol, 1973]
With nary a selection from last year's flop and four awful ones from its predecessor, this compilation is where they admit defeat, and why not? Neither Nicky Hopkins expressing himself nor Dino Valenti acting free--good thing (for him) that he was busted for dope rather than impersonating a vocalist or he'd still be up the river--could stop this band from dating in record time. C+

Further Notes:

Everything Rocks and Nothing Ever Dies [1990s]