As Quicksilver Messenger Service fans know, the band was notoriously slow out of the starting gate as far as recording went. By the time QMS' self-titled debut LP came out in May 1968, Jefferson Airplane had released three already, even though the groups were formed around the same time. In the late summer of 1966, however, QMS were the equal of Jefferson Airplane or the Grateful Dead as a San Francisco concert draw, and a series of live recordings from the early days has been seeping out. This one is a half-hour excerpt from the band's September 9, 1966, show at the Avalon Ballroom, where QMS headlined for two nights over the Great Society. The familiar sound and repertoire are already in place, with John Cipollina's stinging guitar easily audible in songs like "Pride of Man" and "Gold and Silver" that would turn up on Quicksilver Messenger Service 20 months hence. One major difference is the presence of lead singer and harmonica player Jim Murray, who left the band shortly before the recording and release of the first regular album in 1968. He has a smooth, distinct voice that sometimes gives QMS a more conventional pop/rock sound, notably on "Stand by Me" (not the Ben E. King song, but a tune penned by erstwhile QMS member Dino Valenti). The sound quality here is iffy, and this is a release aimed at the faithful. They will enjoy it.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann