Friday, October 12, 2007

No. 189: Happy Trails

Band: Quicksilver Messenger Service
Album: Happy Trails
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: I have no idea. This album is forgettable San Francisco psychedelia.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: It's simply an album by a band with a cool name. Whatever their influence at the time, QMS is a secondary band in the an Francisco scene, paling in comparison to other bands from that scene like Jefferson Airplane, Santana and The Grateful Dead.
Best song: "Who Do You Love?" is always good.
Worst song: Come on, the rest of this album is just nonsense psychedelia or jams. It's not that good.
Is it awesome?: Not even close.

You want example of the boomer nostalgia? Look at this record's presence on this list. Quicksilver Messenger Service should not be on anyone's best records of all time list. If the band had been on the Nuggets boxed set, it would've been perfect to leave them off, but I'm sure some acid head in the magazine's offices still listens to "Happy Trails" and remembers the old days.

In trying to put my head around this album's placement, I think this way: Psychedelia was super important in the mid-late 1960s and QMS was a big band out of the center of that scene (San Francisco). While they're not the main rock band from that era or place, or even the second band, that scene was hugely important and that particular importance needs to be reflected in the list. I guess I can understand that.

Here's the problem: Seattle, 1991 is quite similar to San Francisco, 1968. There were a slew of interesting bands coming out of the same scene, doing sort of different things. Sure, Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden are on the list (albeit too low, with Pearl Jam first appearing at 207 and Soundgarden's sole record at 336), but if the two scenes are analogous -- as I believe them to be -- QMS is like Mudhoney or Screaming Trees. Good, maybe even great. But, worthy of this type of list? I don't think so.

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