Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Quicksilver Messenger Service: Fresh Air

Today’s feature is one of those little known bands and their semi-hit: Quicksilver Messenger Service and “Fresh Air.”

I remember hearing this song when it came out, so it must have gotten some airplay in the Pittsburgh market. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until about a decade later that I discovered the identity of the artist and the title of the song. I thought it was called “Have Another Hit,” as that is the predominant hook in the tune. To top that off, the first line it is used it is combined with "Sweet Air" and not "Fresh Air." In another place, the line "Sweet California Sunshine" replaces "Fresh Air."

This is a great little song with a Santanaesque feel with the organ, guitars, and congas that are similar to their fellow San Francisco based musicians in Santana. The keyboard leads are courtesy of Nicky Hopkins who is playing an RMI Electra Piano (see my post on Rory Gallagher). Exchange the RMI Electra Piano with a Hammond B3 and replace vocalist Dino Valenti with Greg Rollie and this could pass for Santana any day.  From their fourth LP "Just for Love," "Fresh Air" was Quicksilver Messenger Service’s only single, and it barely scratched the surface charting at a dismal #49 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in 1970.

Besides Hopkins who has played with everyone from the Beatles to the Rolling Stones, the only other Quicksilver alumnus on this LP who is known predominantly outside of his work with QMS is bassist David Freiberg. In 1972, he joined Jefferson Airplane and replaced Jack Cassidy who left the Airplane to pursue his role as bassist in Hot Tuna. Eventually as the band metamorphosed into the Jefferson Starship, Freiberg continued in this role until 1984. Twenty-one years later Freiberg rejoined Starship and the rest as we might say is musical history.

Enjoy one of the great quasi-psychedelic bands of the 60s and 70s (with even a vintage light show on the video) – Quicksilver Messenger Service and “Fresh Air.”

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