Gary Duncan was another deer caught in the headlights and he owes it to a myopic media strapped to headlines rather than story. In 2007, writers, papers and magazines flocked to his door, supposedly to interview Gary Duncan, musician. Duncan soon found that what they really wanted were a few lines to support already written headlines about the so-called Summer of Love.
“What I did 40 years ago, that's what I've been doing as far as interviews all year,” he said. “Going back and reliving all of those things is something I'm not really into. The music was good and the whole thing was great, but now it's 40 years later and my music is totally different. I've been trying to get the word out about what I am doing now. I have around twelve CDs out now, all newer. I had a recording studio for about 20 years and recorded everything I played. Then, when 9/11 happened, there suddenly weren't any more gigs. I didn't work for five years and lost the studio, but I kept the 500+ hours of music I'd recorded. If the music has been bad, it would have been easy. I could have just thrown it all away. But after listening to it, I realized it was good, so I ended up tying up with a guy named Karl Anderson, who owns Global Recording Artists. That's the label my music is released on now.
“I had stuff on cassette, on DAT tapes, two-track mixes, on 2-inch tape. We went through all of it and are slowly getting them out. I have maybe six CDs that we haven't released yet. They sell, but not a lot. I don't make a lot of money off of those.”
Why Global Recording, you ask? Why not a major label?
“Quicksilver's Peace By Piece came out on Capitol in 1986. It was getting really good promotion, was starting to move, then the president of the label got fired and everybody he'd signed got dropped. They dumped the record. They just stopped promoting it and didn't make any more copies. I called them and asked if they had the masters because I wanted to put it out and they said no, we don't have them. We don't even have a copy. Well, I did. I had a copy of the original mix, so I put it out myself.
“I put out Shape Shifter on my own label, as well, and now it is on GRA Records. Most people don't even know it's out there because it never got any promotion.”
Shape Shifter, originally a two CD set, took on a life all its own. Keying on theme and variations, Duncan recorded and re-recorded many of the tracks, some remarkably different than those on the original discs. The original set is now available on single discs as Volumes 1 & 2.
The third volume of Shape Shifter consists of three 'new' tracks--- Light Up the Night, Cover Girl, and Time to Shine--- and alternate versions of songs from Volumes 1 & 2.
Unlike the original set, on Volume 3 Duncan handles the vast majority of the instruments himself. “Volume 3 of Shape Shifter was actually the original demos Gary produced for the album,” explained Karl Anderson of Global Recording Artists. “Gary played almost everything on those tracks. The idea was to record the demos and give them to the band so they could learn the parts for the sessions. In the process, some songs were dumped and a lot of the tracks ended up significantly different than the final versions. While going over the material, we decided those 'demo' tracks were worthy of inclusion in the expanded set of discs we were going to put out.”
Volume 4 is another animal altogether. Some tracks are different versions of those from Vol. 1 & 2 sans voice, some were left over from earlier sessions, and some recorded fresh. Duncan kept it instrumental because he liked the way it sounded. This ain't your Granddaddy's Quicksilver, my friend--- more like Gary Duncan Unleashed.
Again, Karl Anderson: “Volume 4 was an instrumental version of songs from the original Shape Shifter. Originally, we were going to call it Waltzing the Warthog, but decided to add it to the Shape Shifter set because we didn't want to confuse fans as they purchased the different albums. You get very different versions on this album and get a chance to hear Gary really play some guitar.”
Duncan has unleashed himself on a number of albums over the years, some criminally overlooked. One wonders whether the Quicksilver fans from the sixties even know they exist and why the ones who do, like the writers who call for interviews, seem to prefer reliving the past to hearing the new. No matter, really. Gary Duncan has gained a loyal following of new fans, enamored almost as much as Duncan himself with his chosen style. Still, it gets frustrating at times, but Duncan has not let it daunt him.
“I grew up playing R&B and jazz. These days, when I can play what I want to, I play jazz--- in my own way. That's what Quicksilver was really doing, anyway. We improvised every night we played. The whole idea was to get stoned, get on stage, start the song and see where it went.”