Happy Trails (album)

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Happy Trails
Live album by Quicksilver Messenger Service
Released March 29, 1969
Recorded 1968
Genre Psychedelic rock, art rock
Length 48:41
Label Capitol
Quicksilver Messenger Service chronology
Quicksilver Messenger Service
(1968)
Happy Trails
(1969)
Shady Grove
(1969)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[1]
Head Heritage (very favourable)[2]
Rolling Stone (Positive)[3]
Sputnikmusic 4/5 stars[4]

Happy Trails is the second album of the American band Quicksilver Messenger Service. Most of the album was recorded from two performances at the Fillmore East and Fillmore West, although it is not clear which parts were recorded at which Fillmore. The record was released by Capitol Records in stereo.

Side 1[edit]

The first side of the album is the "Who Do You Love Suite", a recorded live performance of the band's extended version of Bo Diddley's song, "Who Do You Love?." The movements of the suite are given separate titles and writing credits. This performance has received high praise:

  • "The perpetually inventive chops of QMS are what is truly on display here. The musicians' unmitigated instrumental prowess and practically psychic interaction allow them to seamlessly weave into and back out of the main theme." (Lindsay Planer, All Music Guide) [1]
  • "They use the infamous Bo Diddley rhythm not as a crutch, not as something for the rhythm section to play with while the lead takes it; Quicksilver finds dimensions of that "bump buddy bump bump — bump bump" beat that no one has even suggested before, as they stretch it, bend it, move around it, as a motif or a bridge, as an idea rather than as a pattern." (Greil Marcus, in Rolling Stone.) [3]

Other reviewers have been less enthusiastic:

  • "In reality it's an excuse for an extended solo from (mostly) guitarist John Cipollina which ranges from bluesy licks to...almost nothing else. [...] In addition to serving mainly as a vehicle for Cipollina's technically-proficient but unimaginative guitar work (he'll play the kind of repeating arpeggios or repeating string bend licks so incessantly it's easy to understand why punk rock by-and-large eschewed and abhorred the guitar solo), the song's head features unimaginably dull vocals; the arrangement pretty much stinks of white imposter blues[.]" (Elliot Knapp) [5]
  • "Trying to sit through these jams and pay attention to them is, however, a totally useless idea - and it only makes matters worse. If you have, for some unexplainable reason, purchased this album, never make the mistake of paying attention to it. [...] [T]his album manages to, indeed, epitomize all the worst excesses of American hippie music, and never concentrate on the best." (Odds and Sods) [6]

"[T]he ever-modest [John] Cipollina" said "'it was just a two-chord jam.'" (Mick Skidmore, April 2001, Notes to Acadia CD "Copperhead") [7]

Who Do You Love Suite[edit]

1. Who Do You Love? (Ellas McDaniel) (a.k.a. Bo Diddley) This is a straightforward rendering of the song in Quicksilver's rock/blues style.

2. When You Love (Gary Duncan) A guitar solo by Duncan in a style somewhere between jazz and rock (described as "Bloomfield-like" [3] ) with a walking bass line by Freiberg.

3. Where You Love (Quicksilver and Fillmore audience) Some apparently improvised guitar and bass plucking and sliding, with feedback, handclapping and audience participation 'almost like a "found object" out of Dada.' [3]

4. How You Love (John Cipollina) A rock guitar solo by Cippollina, returning to the Bo Diddley beat.

5. Which Do You Love (David Freiberg) A bass solo by Freiberg over the Bo Diddley beat.

6. Who Do You Love? (Part 2) (Ellas McDaniel) A slower, quieter reprise of one verse of the Bo Diddley song, leading to a pianissimo ensemble vocal, and a finale in which "they hit it all at once, guitars harder and harder. Elmore pounding, voices screaming; everything working." [3]

The original live performance of the "Who Do You Love Suite" (approximately 26:53 in length) was cut to 25:17, perhaps to make it fit on an LP record. Most of the deleted music was from Duncan's guitar solo ("When You Love"). An recording of the uncut performance has circulated unofficially. At the end, Bill Graham announces, "Quicksilver Messenger Service."

Side 2[edit]

Greil Marcus, writing for Rolling Stone, noted that the record has another side but "it took me two hours to even get to the other side." [3]

The second side of the album contains "Mona", another Bo Diddley song, and two compositions by Duncan, "Maiden of the Cancer Moon" and "Calvary", all of which segue. The three songs were originally parts of a single continuous live performance. Following them is a version of "Happy Trails", the theme of Roy Rogers's television show, written by Dale Evans. The live recording of "Calvary" was abridged shortly after the end of "Maiden of the Cancer Moon" and a studio version was recorded and substituted. The ironic comment at the beginning of side two, "This here next one's rock 'n' roll," was also added in the studio. The original live performance of "Mona", "Maiden of the Cancer Moon" and "Calvary" used to be on Etree but seems to be no longer available there.

"Mona" by Quicksilver was ranked number 88 on the 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time by Rolling Stone.[8] Both Cippollina and Duncan take a guitar solo.

"Maiden of the Cancer Moon" is an instrumental written by Duncan. The lead guitar is played by Cipollina. It follows "Mona" as "attitude filled hard rock with that tough guy, slick style of guitar playing that makes you stomp your feet in the middle of class." [4]

Duncan's instrumental composition "Calvary" was called the "F-Sharp Thing" by the band.[9] This music has been described as "acid-flamenco",[3] but it is definitely not flamenco music. It's also been called an "Ennio Morricone-flavored Spanish instrumental[.]" [5] It does resemble orchestral or symphonic music, and it is not readily classifiable as rock, jazz or blues. In the studio, Quicksilver took the themes of Duncan's piece and redid them with an extended introduction, a different cadenza by Duncan, guitar and bass feedback, a brief interlude that rises out of the feedback, and a closing melody, played staccato, that fades out. There are a variety of percussion instruments used besides the standard drum kit: piano (apparently played by pressing all its keys simultaneously with a piece of wood or something), tympani, a tam-tam, a whip, tubular bells, bar chimes (or perhaps the newly invented mark tree), a triangle or a bell, and güiro. In addition, Duncan lays down his electric guitar to play an acoustic guitar during the brief interlude, and then takes up the electric one again. The band also sings wordless vocals in harmony, Duncan shouts, "Call it anything you want!", and the track fades out with "shhh" vocals. The album sleeve says that "Calvary" was recorded "live" at Golden State Recorders, presumably meaning that none of this was overdubbed and it was played by the four members of the band only.

As a coda, the band sing the theme tune from Roy Rogers' western television show, which lends its title to the album. "Happy Trails" is also different from the other songs on the album. It has "clip-clop percussion, piano and drawling vocals by Elmore[.] " [2] It's a "a sweet, slightly corny way to end things." [10] "It clears the sonic palette and also bids adieu to this particular fab foursome of psychedelia." [11] There is no bass played on this track; Freiberg plays a honky-tonk piano part.

Other Reviews[edit]

  • "The album's mesmerizing power remains as true as ever. The George Hunter cover painting is also indispensable." [12]
  • "Cipollina and Duncan exchange solo and rhythm duties on "Happy Trails" so effortlessly that despite the production's extreme stereo separation (Duncan on the left channel, Cipollina on the right) it's never anything but a seamless series of intuitively placed fits of opposing forces with an undying attraction to each other. At times Duncan's rhythm is a fat, toned-down punk buzzsaw working as a wash against Cipollina's agile counterpointing and sometimes Cipollina's solos are the smallest of strategic rhythmic strokes while Duncan's rhythm playing at times appears more like solos rendered in shorthand. These free-flowing qualities were accented with carefully controlled, soaring feedback and stinging arpeggios of the purest tones." (Julian Cope) [2](This review gives a much longer description of all the music on the record.)

In 2003, the album was ranked number 189 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[13] The song "Mona" was ranked number 88 on the list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Songs also of Rolling Stone.[14]

Track listing[edit]

Side A[edit]

  1. "Who Do You Love? - Part 1" – 3:32 (Ellas McDaniel)
  2. "When You Love" – 5:15 (Gary Duncan)
  3. "Where You Love" – 6:07 (John Cipollina, Duncan, Greg Elmore, David Freiberg)
  4. "How You Love" – 2:45 (Cipollina)
  5. "Which Do You Love" – 1:49 (Freiberg)
  6. "Who Do You Love - Part 2" – 5:51 (McDaniel)

Side B[edit]

  1. "Mona" – 7:01 (McDaniel)
  2. "Maiden of the Cancer Moon" – 2:54 (Duncan)
  3. "Calvary" – 13:31 (Duncan)
  4. "Happy Trails" – 1:29 (Dale Evans)

Personnel[edit]

Awards and Charting[edit]

In 2003, the album was ranked number 189 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[1] It was #44 in Rolling Stone's "50 Coolest Records." [15] In 1992, the album was certified gold (over 500,000 copies sold in the US) by the Recording Industry Association of America. [16]

CD Rereleases[edit]

"Happy Trails" was remastered and rereleased in audiophile versions of June 2012 (a “mini LP” on CD) and January 2013 (HQ vinyl). An English version came out in 2010. Japanese versions surfaced in 2008 and 2009. Capitol Records released a CD version in 1994.[17]

Album

Billboard (North America)

Year Chart Position
1969 Pop Albums 27
Singles

Billboard (North America)

Year Single Chart Position
1969 "Who Do You Love" The Billboard Hot 100 91

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Planer, Lindsay. Happy Trails (album) at AllMusic
  2. ^ a b c Head Heritage review
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Greil, Marcus (3 May 1969). "Happy Trails | Album Reviews | Rolling Stone". rollingstone.com. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c "Quicksilver Messenger Service - Happy Trails (album review ) | Sputnikmusic". sputnikmusic.com. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Knapp, Elliot (17 September 2011). "Elliot Knapp: Quicksilver Messenger Service - Happy Trails". elliotknapp.com. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  6. ^ "Odds And Sods". oocities.org. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  7. ^ "John Cipollina Discography - Copperhead". mjckeh.demon.co.uk. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  8. ^ "Rolling Stone‘s 100 Greatest Guitar Songs Of All Time - Stereogum". stereogum.com. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  9. ^ http://db.etree.org/lookup_show.php?shows_key=283655
  10. ^ "Cult Albums: #3 QUICKSILVER MESSENGER SERVICE – Happy Trails (1969) | Music Musings and Miscellany". dezji.wordpress.com. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  11. ^ "iTunes - Music - Happy Trails by Quicksilver Messenger Service". itunes.apple.com. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  12. ^ "Quicksilver Messenger Service - Happy Trails CD Album". cduniverse.com. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  13. ^ Rolling Stone - 189) Happy Trails. Retrieved 2011-01-24. "If you weren't there, this is the next best thing: the definitive live recording of the mid-Sixties San Francisco psychedelic-ballroom experience. Mostly taped at the two Fillmores, in San Francisco and New York, Quicksilver Messenger Service's second album captures twin guitarists John Cipollina and Gary Duncan in high, bright flight, making rare magic from a couple of old Bo Diddley numbers ('Mona', 'Who Do You Love?'), while the gorgeous, composed intricacies of 'Maiden of the Cancer Moon' and the acid-flamenco studio epic 'Calvary' prove that psychedelia was not just about tripping out."
  14. ^ Rolling Stone - The 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time. Retrieved 2011-01-24. "A Bo Diddley cover transformed into tribal ecstasy. When guitarist John Cipollina cuts the air with his wah-wah, your high is real and all natural."
  15. ^ Rolling Stone 4/11/02, p. 108)
  16. ^ http://www.riaa.com/goldandplatinumdata.php?content_selector=gold-platinum-searchable-database
  17. ^ Psychedelic Sight - 'Happy Trails’ finally feels the love 1/8/13)