John Cipollina - guitar, vocals; Gary Duncan - guitar, vocals; David Freiberg - bass, vocals; Greg Elmore - drums
This performance was the first of three extraordinary QMS shows from an inspired run at the Fillmore West. The wonderful quality of the recording aside, this is just a fantastic performance.
Unfortunately, this is only a partial recording, as the tape begins with the show in progress. The first track, "Cowboys and Indians," is an outstanding, unreleased instrumental that contains all the elements that made this lineup so well respected among San Francisco musicians of the day. By late 1968, when this concert was recorded, Cipollina and Duncan's guitar playing was reaching peak levels of intensity and their creativity seemed boundless - this track exemplifies that and more.
After almost nine minutes, this segues directly into "Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You," a song QMS recorded for the 1967 movie Revolution soundtrack. Here it is far more developed and has a much heavier sound. "Smokestack Lightning," a staple of all early QMS sets, follows. They must have been considering this track for the Happy Trails LP, as excellent versions are available on these reels from three different nights on this run. Why no version was ever released when they obviously had several phenomenal live takes remains a mystery.
This version of "Mona" is just as exciting as the Happy Trails version, which was likely also recorded during this run. "Mona" transitions into introspective jamming on "Maiden Of The Cancer Moon," before exploring deep psychedelic space on "Calvary."
This is unquestionably one of the finest unreleased QMS recordings in existence - intriguing music from beginning to end.