Quicksilver displayed acute weakness on their previous album and they remain very much in evidence on What About Me. Though the group has polished up considerably — at times nearly to the point of respectability — a simple coat of polish cannot disguise the fact that they haven’t solved their problems.
The amateurish production which so handicapped their last album asserts itself again on the material recorded in Hawaii, but even the cuts recorded stateside suffer. The band’s sound, for all the potential richness afforded by three guitars and piano (not to mention the introduction of horns and added percussion on some tracks), still feels only half-realized (attributable to a basic weakness in material) or muddled (attributable to a production and engineering still far from acceptable).
The question as to whether Quicksilver now exists merely as a vehicle for the rambling romanticism of Dino Valenti is once more made unavoidable. He penned seven of the ten songs on the record. many of which (most notably “Long Haired Lady” and “Call On Me”) lose themselves in tedium, and handles all the lead vocals save one. His unfounded domination can only be viewed as divisive, for he cuts off Quicksilver from their earlier musical identity without replacing it with anything of real substance.
John Cipollina’s lucid lead guitar, at one time the band’s instrumental trademark, comes to us now only in brief and largely uninspired flashes. He has since left the group, presumably (on the basis of this album) to avoid artistic starvation. David Frieberg, formerly the band’s primary lead vocalist, is confined to the vocal on “Won’t Kill Me,” a rather clumsy country thing which he wrote. Replacing these perennials are the wandering ballad and droning vocal styles of Valenti.
There is, however, a fair amount of good music to be found on What About Me. With editing, the title tune has hit single potential in the same vein as the last album’s “Fresh Air.” It’s substantially better recorded, and features some nice flute from Martin Fierro and percussion from Jose Rico Reyes. “All In My Mind” is perhaps the most attractive exposition of Valenti romanticism: a gently Latinish number with accent on piano and acoustic guitar. Cipollina’s “Local Color” and Nicky Hopkins’ “Spindrifter” are fine mood pieces for guitar and piano respectively.
The good music on this album notwithstanding, the thought lingers that this is Quicksilver’s fifth album and they have not produced a statement of full musical sustenance since the first side (“Who Do You Love”) of their second album. They could conceivably go on offering irritatingly uneven music like this forever, but considering the wealth of talent they hinted at on their first two albums, how long the public will continue to accept this comparatively bland substitution may be an entirely different matter.