Quicksilver Messenger Service – Quicksilver Messenger Service and Happy Trails

The first two albums from QMS are considered by many devoted fans and critics to be from the “classic period” before the original lineup underwent a series of changes. The reputation is deserved.

TONE staff collector Tom Caselli, always on the alert for additional clean copies of these LPs, notes that early stamper originals are “tough to find that aren’t beat. These were the ultimate party records back in the 60s.” If you can find them, early stamper black label Capitol LP’s are the ones you want. Clean copies fetch about $100 each. UK import pressings can go for twice that amount, and it remains open for debate about whether they sound any better than US versions.

Compared to the later-version Capitol LPs, Pure Pleasure’s reissues sound fantastic and reveal layered sound, not unlike my favorite Dead albums. The sound instantly brings back a 60s jam band vibe, and both records offer tremendous depth and guitar texture.  What the albums lack in modern studio trickery, they make up for in spades with soulful performance. The self-titled set possesses a soundstage with more depth than width, with only an occasional drumstick hitting the rim of a snare on the far right or left to remind you that this is, in fact, a stereo recording. Hearing “The Fool” restored to its former glory is worth the price alone.

While barely a year separate the S/T record and Happy Trails, the latter possesses a much bigger and cleaner sound. The sound spreads well beyond the speaker boundaries, and guitars occupy not only a larger space but enjoy greater prominence on the recording. Happy Trails also has stronger dynamic contrast than the first, with instruments convincingly fading into the distance, and much greater low-level detail, revealing more nuances in the guitar playing.

Pure Pleasure has more QMS titles on the way. For now, this pair makes for an excellent addition to any psychedelic collection.

Pure Pleasure, LP