To enjoy Quicksilver Messenger Service is to hear them in a live setting, to hear the chemistry and seeming psychic connection between the exceptional musicians so their solos seamlessly blend into one another creating a stunning aural painting.
Unfortunately, being born on the wrong coast and several years too late, I never knew this pleasure first hand-- Luckily Happy Trails captures QMS in that setting. In particular the late John Cippolina is on top form, truly an underrated guitarist this album puts on display some of his best musical efforts on the band's epic cover of Bo Diddley's Who Do You Love (spanning over 20 minutes), much of which is pure jamming that even the Fillmore audience gets into.
Cipollina also shares vocals with David Freiberg (also on bass and guitar) and Gary Duncan (also on bass and guitar) and the unit is rounded out by Greg Elmore on drums. Although he was technically a member, Dino Valenti (aka Chet Powers) was-- at the time in jail on a marijuana posession charge and wouldn't rejoin his bandmates until 1970 after the release of their Shady Grove album.
This is the 2nd and final album to feature the core quartet and it was, arguably, this core quartet that saw the band at its best (although their brief stint as a sextet in 1970/71 also produced some exceptional music).
Part of what makes this album so enjoyable that it is both a snapshot of the psychadelic era and a collection of timeless well-crafted music as QMS were not only torch-bearers but also transcended the very genre they were at least in part responsible for making popular in the late sixties.
So pop on your headphones, close your eyes, and let Quicksilver Messenger Service take you on the aural ride of your life!