Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Age of Aquarius: Fresh Air


Quicksilver Messenger Service: Fresh Air
[purchase]

In the late 1960’s, Quicksilver Messenger Service was a popular Bay Area band, but it has been overshadowed by its more successful contemporaries like The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin and Santana. According to some accounts, the group was to be led by Dino Valenti, who wrote the song “Get Together” (under his birth name, Chet Powers). Unfortunately, before they really got going, Valenti spent almost two years in jail on marijuana possession charges. Instead, the band included David Freiberg, who later was a member of Jefferson Starship, guitarist John Cipollina, and guitarist and singer Gary Duncan, among others. For their fourth album, “Just for Love,” Valenti finally joined the fold, wrote most of the songs (this time under the name Jesse Oris Farrow), and their sound became more pop oriented.

“Fresh Air,” the single from the album, is Quicksilver’s biggest hit, reaching 49 on the Billboard chart. The song has a nice jam band feel to it, Marty Balin-esque vocals, good harmonies, a great Santanaish guitar solo from Cipollina and a piano solo from Nicky Hopkins, the great session musician, who was a member of the band at the time.

In the song, the singer tells a woman to “have another hit” of:

Sweet air;
Fresh air;
Sweet love; and
Sweet California sunshine

What I think he really is telling her to “have another hit” of:

Marijuana.

I could be wrong, but it was 1970, and considering the musicians involved, I’m going to go with that.

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