Quicksilver Messenger Service

Shady Grove/Solid Silver

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The two albums packaged together here represent the beginning of the end of the Quicksilver Messenger Service. Shady Grove was recorded without guitarist and vocalist Gary Duncan who was, with John Cipollina, the spiritual center of the outfit -- he left to join founding member Dino Valente in New York in order to start a band. Duncan's replacement was British piano session ace Nicky Hopkins. There are fine moments here, but the hole Duncan left behind is too great to fill with piano textures. Standout tracks include the title, Cipollina's blues workout "Three or Four Feet From Home," and Hopkins' piano orgy "Edward the Mad Shirt Grinder." Solid Silver, recorded in 1975, is a reunion of sorts with Valente and Duncan back on-board as well as Cipollina, who had briefly left after Shady Grove. The playing is sound, but the material is simply unfocused, making for a deeply dissatisfying listening experience. Unless you are a hardcore Quicksilver fan who needs everything, this collection is best to avoid.

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