Monday, November 9, 2009

silver tongues and crosses

Recorded in the studio and live at Filmore East and West - with el capitán, Dino Valente conspicuously in or out of the frame and serving a two year stretch for marijuana possession - "Happy Trails" is a saturnine tour de force of worming guitar and flowering intent.

Kings of the Bay Area, "Maiden of the Cancer Moon" is second guitarist Gary Duncan's crowning achievement; building seamlessly into the epic, "Calvary", which is given its definitive 'reading' live in the studio coming up on acid, laid bare at Golden State Recorders, San Francisco on November 19th, 1968.

Reap it and weep.

This is communion with more concrete seals than wafers or fish on the tongue.

John Cippolina: guitar;
Gary Duncan: guitar;
Greg Elmore: drums;

David Freiberg: bass.

QUICKSILVER MESSENGER SERVICE: CALVARY (LIVE 19/11/68) from "Happy Trails" LP (Capitol) 1969 (US)


Forever Changes said...

Thanks, Happy Trails is one of the great albums

Your driver said...

Damn, that was good. It's easy to glibly dismiss Bay Area psychedelia. It became a parody of itself very quickly. When I was a kid and first heard the stuff it damn near caused my brains to explode.
They don't play guitar like this around here no more.

Your driver said...

Oh, By the way, Fillmore East was in New York City. Fillmore West was in the still extant Fillmore Ballroom on Fillmore Street in San Francisco. I drove past it this morning. It was two doors down from the now destroyed People's Temple of Reverend Jim Jones. The People's Temple site stood empty and fenced off for a long time. There's a Post Office there now. I wouldn't want to work there.

ib said...

You are welcome, Forever Changes. Curiously, I was torn between posting on QMS or some Love... "Orange Skies" popped into my head.

ib said...

Jesus, Jon. These are the details which inform and astound.

They erected a Post Office on the derelict People's Temple of Jim Jones ? That alone is like some dark Holywood machination. Between that and those electric ghosts from two doors down there lurks a screenplay.

I don't know if this has occurred to you, but you could do a helluva lot worse than operate a tour service for tourists and residents alike. If your pension is looking a little shaky, maybe this is something worth investigating ? A joint venture with some pals who happen to drive buses for a living ?

ib said...

That. Or proceed directly to the screenplay.

Anonymous said...

jeah, i loooove the guitarwork on those two tracks, which in summer 83 made me finding out for the first time in four years or so that there was good music b4 punk broke loose.

"Ultrapsychedelic" as we pseudo droogs used 2 say then.

Especially the mesmerizing, somehow hispanophile guitarwork.

The 2 songs are obviously based on the "gibsy-scale", that is as well the base of a lot of flamenco music. Probably the result of the influence of the spirits or the ghosts of the spanish ancients of the Californians still flying around in the bay area. And maybe the use of Acid by Cippolina/Gravenites, aparently in common during the recording of Happy Trails, turned their receiver on for such a kind of influence.

... is considering anonymus no. 2

Your driver said...

To the second anonymous. I've often wondered where the Spanish and Arabic influence on Psychedelic music came from. I'd suggest that California guitarists were influenced by Dick Dale who learned Middle Eastern scales from his Lebanese family. Just prior to the Haight street scene, the two most popular forms of live music for young people were folk music and instrumental music. Live rock vocal groups were not that common. Any young aspiring guitar hero in California would have to learn his minor scales. I still don't know where Cippolina got that sound from. Nobody else plays like that.

ib said...


Well. Dino sang in the coffee bars back east alongside Dylan and Fred Neil when he was still plain Chet Powers. The folk thing was in his blood.

Like Robbie Kreiger, Cippolina was a clasically trained pianist before switching to guitar, so he would have been well acquainted with flamenco scales before picking up a Gibson. And it is maybe worth pointing out of course that the west coast was a melting pot of all manner of jazz influences which in turn informed the psychedelic scene, as was the case with Spirit; Miles Davis had been flirting with arabic scales for the better part of a decade back then, as had Dave Brubeck and a host of others.

Then you have the whole Spanish Mexican thing which lived in and around the desert right on the doorstep.

I definitely agree with you too, anonymous, that the whole mescalin and acid scene must surely have opened receptive souls to all manner of ancient vibrations drifting in on the ether and humming on the wire. All of it out there and hungry for a host.

Part of Cippolina's magic is that his playing feels genuinely haunted.

ib said...

BTW, Jon, I just caught as to why you mentioned that the Filmore East was in NYC... Thanks. And not merely a typo on my part, I might add.

@eloh said...

I am guessing that the added pictures is what tripped me up here.

You know you can't get too fancy or I get lost.

So, this was really nice. Made me feel like if I looked in the mirror I wouldn't scream for a change... there would be that nice lookin' thing from long ago looking back, smiling.

ib said...

You are not alone with that inclination to avoid reflective surfaces, @eloh. Even my wedding photographs could have done with a vigorous bit of airbrushing on my side of the picture...

The peculiar thing about the shot of Cippolina is that it was taken (by Pat Johnson) in San Francisco, 1985; just four years before he died.

Admittedly, I aged the look of the original. I wanted to give it the feel of sepia print from the nineteenth century. Edgar Allen Poe on acid instead of absinthe.

He doesn't look a day older than he did in 1969.

ib said...

Don't know if you are still hanging in here on the ether, anonymous...

but, speaking of ancestral spirits, I just spent the better part of fifteen minutes watching "Calvary" spinning and colliding in spectral globes. Okay. I was cheating. I had the visualiser set up on iTunes 9...

"Step into the light..."

Anonymous said...

well, even without the oral adding of chemistry or Psilocybe azurescens the sheer aural aplication of a dose of "Cavalry" (or as well of "the fool", available on some qms bootlegs) might lead to the visuals u were obviously encountering on the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

Don't od.

ano no. 2

ib said...

To compound matters, I am reflecting on this on Friday 13th.

I'm familiar with that version of "The Fool" from their first LP, and the live one on "Lost Gold and Silver".

Time, I think, to give it another listen. Thanks for the tip, anonymous #2.