Country Joe &The Fish – Electric Music For The Mind And Body (1967)

FrontCover1Electric Music for the Mind and Body is Country Joe and the Fish’s debut album. Released in May 1967 on the Vanguard label, it was one of the first psychedelic albums to come out of San Francisco.Electric Music for the Mind and Body is Country Joe and the Fish’s debut album. Released in May 1967 on the Vanguard label, it was one of the first psychedelic albums to come out of San Francisco.
Tracks from the LP, especially “Section 43”, “Grace”, and “Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine” were played on progressive FM rock stations like KSAN and KMPX in San Francisco, often back-to-back. A version of the song “Love” was performed at the 1969 Woodstock Festival.
“Grace” is a tribute to Jefferson Airplane’s lead singer, Grace Slick.

The album was recorded during the first week of February 1967 at Sierra Sound Laboratories, Berkeley, California, by Robert DeSouza, with production by Samuel Charters. It was released on May 11, 1967, on the Vanguard label.  (by wikipedia)


Their full-length debut is their most joyous and cohesive statement and one of the most important and enduring documents of the psychedelic era, the band’s swirl of distorted guitar and organ at its most inventive. In contrast to Jefferson Airplane, who were at their best working within conventional song structures, and the Grateful Dead, who hadn’t quite yet figured out how to transpose their music to the recording studio, Country Joe & the Fish delivered a fully formed, uncompromising, and yet utterly accessible — in fact, often delightfully witty — body of psychedelic music the first time out. Ranging in mood from good-timey to downright apocalyptic, it embraced all of the facets of the band’s music, which were startling in their diversity: soaring guitar and keyboard excursions (“Flying High,” “Section 43,” “Bass Strings,” “The Masked Marauder”), the group’s folk roots (“Sad and Lonely Times”), McDonald’s personal ode to Grace Slick (“Grace”), and their in-your-face politics (“Superbird”). Hardly any band since the Beatles had ever come up with such a perfect and perfectly bold introduction to who and what they were, and the results — given the prodigious talents and wide-ranging orientation of this group — might’ve scared off most major record labels. Additionally, this is one of the best-performed records of its period, most of it so bracing and exciting that one gets some of the intensity of a live performance. (by Richie Unterberger)


Bruce Barthol (bass, harmonica)
David Cohen (guitar, organ)
Gary “Chicken” Hirsh (drums)
Country Joe McDonald (vocals, guitar, bells, tambourine)
Barry Melton (vocals, guitar)

01. Flying High (McDonald) 2.37
02. Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine (McDonald) 4.20
03. Death Sound Blues (McDonald) 4.22
04. Porpoise Mouth (McDonald) 2.47
05. Section 43 (McDonald) 7.22
06. Super Bird (McDonald) 2.02
07. Sad And Lonely Times (McDonald) 2.22
08. Love (McDonald/Melton/Cohen/Barthol/Gunning/Hirsh) 2.19
09. Bass Strings (McDonald) 4.58
10. The Masked Marauder (McDonald) 3.08
11. Grace (McDonald) 7.02



Country Joe And The Fish – Reunion (1977)

FrontCover1Country Joe and the Fish was a rock band most widely known for musical protests against the Vietnam War, from 1966 to 1971, and also regarded as a seminal influence to psychedelic rock.
The group’s name is derived from communist politics; “Country Joe” was a popular name for Joseph Stalin in the 1940s, while “the fish” refers to Mao Zedong’s statement that the true revolutionary “moves through the peasantry as the fish does through water.” The group began with the nucleus of “Country Joe” McDonald (lead vocals) and Barry “The Fish” Melton (lead guitar), recording and performing for the “Teach-in” protests against the Vietnam War in 1965. Co-founders McDonald and Melton added musicians as needed over the life of the band. By 1967, the group included Gary “Chicken” Hirsh (drums) (born March 9, 1940, in Chicago, Illinois); David Cohen (keyboards) (born August 4, 1942, in Brooklyn, New York) and Bruce Barthol (bass) (born November 11, 1947 in Berkeley, California). The 1967 lineup lasted only two years, and by the 1969 Woodstock Festival, the lineup included Greg ‘Duke’ Dewey (drums), Mark Kapner (keyboards) and Doug Metzler (bass).

CountryJoe01The band came to perform an early example of psychedelic rock. The LP Electric Music for the Mind and Body was very influential on early FM Radio in 1967. Long sets of psychedelic tunes like “Section 43”, “Bass Strings”, “Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine”, “Janis” (for and about Janis Joplin) and “Grace” (for singer Grace Slick) (all released on Vanguard Records) were often played back to back on KSAN and KMPX in San Francisco and progressive rock stations around the country. Their first album charted at #39 on September 23, 1967, their 2nd album at #67 on February 3, 1968, and their third at #23 on August 31, 1968. Country Joe and The Fish were regulars at the original Fillmore auditorium, the Fillmore West, Fillmore East, and Chet Helms’ Avalon Ballroom. They were billed with such groups as Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Moby Grape, Blue Cheer, Led Zeppelin, and Iron Butterfly. They played at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and at the Woodstock Festival in 1969. In 1971 the band appeared in a Western film starring Don Johnson as an outlaw gang called the Crackers. The film, titled Zachariah, was written by the Firesign Theatre and was billed as “The First Electric Western”. They also appeared in the George Lucas film More American Graffiti and in the 1971 Roger Corman film Gas-s-s-s.

Their biggest hit was the anti-war “I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die Rag”, which debuted the same year as the band, but became best known after Country Joe’s solo acoustic performance of it at Woodstock. Country Joe was sued in 2001 by Kid Ory’s daughter, Babette Ory, who claimed McDonald’s “Fixin” Rag infringed her copyright to Kid Ory’s Dixieland jazz standard “Muskrat Ramble”. In August 2003, the court case was decided in McDonald’s favor, since Kid Ory, Babette Ory, and the Muskat Ramble publisher had all known of the song in the late 1960s, but no complaint was made for decades. Finding the complaint objectively unreasonable, the court awarded McDonald some of his attorney’s fees and costs. Due to the long delay and prejudice, including death of key witnesses, the court did not even reach the lack of substantial similarity issue. Babette Ory and her attorney appealed, and the appellate court affirmed the decision in favor of McDonald.

Country Joe’s anti-war activity led to his being called as a witness at the Chicago Seven conspiracy trial in 1969, where he recited the lyrics to “I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die Rag”.

Country Joe continued to tour and practice with other California based bands.

CountryJoe02Barry “The Fish” Melton was later a founding member of The Dinosaurs and has recently released new recordings of that band whose members included Peter Albin from Big Brother and The Holding Company and John Cipollina from Quicksilver Messenger Service and Copperhead. Melton studied law while on the road as a musician and was admitted to practice by the State Bar of California in 1982. In 2009, Melton retired as the Public Defender of Yolo County, California, although he continues to tour internationally from time to time.

Melton and McDonald have occasionally reunited to play music in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and as recently as 2002 in support of a Christmas toy drive in San Francisco for Toys for Tots.

2004 and 2005 saw several short United States and UK tours and the release of a live CD by the Country Joe Band, at that time comprising McDonald, Cohen, Barthol and Hirsch.

Reunion is the sixth studio album by the San Francisco psychedelic rock group Country Joe and the Fish, released in 1977 by the original 1967 band. It was produced by Sam Charters for Fantasy Records and recorded between January and April 1977. The music is not so psychedelic and several tracks are Country rock. (by wikipedia)

What a great album … listen to songs like “Time Flies By”, “Insufficient Friends” or “Come To The Reunion” and you´ll know what I mean.

Bruce Barthol (bass, harmonica)
David Cohen (guitar, organ)
Gary “Chicken” Hirsh (drums)
Country Joe McDonald (vocals, guitar, bells, tambourine)
Barry Melton (vocals, guitar)
Sam Charters (jug)
Bobby Keys (saxophone)
Steve Madaio (horn)
Jim Price (horn)

01. Come To The Reunion (Hirsh) 3.03
02. Time Flies By (J.McDonald) 4.09
03. Stateline Nevada (Melton) 2.03
04. Love Is A Mystery (Melton) 2.04
05. Dirty Claus Rag (J.McDonald/B.McDonald/Charters/Marsh) 2.04
06. Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine (J.McDonald) 3.25
07. Thunderbird (J.McDonald) 3.42
08. Gibson’s Song (instrumental) (Cohen) 3.37
09. No One Can Teach You How To Love (Melton) 3.16
10. Insufficient Friends (Barthol/Marsh) 2.36
11. Dreams (Cohen/Richardson) 2.55