Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Give me an eff...

Yes. This post even took me by surprise.

But I love Country Joe.
Fish or no Fish.

I discovered Joe Macdonald’s music (the country prefix mimicked one of Stalin’s ‘pet names’) back in the late seventies; so his music was always in retrospect; but little did I know, as he was still doing it.

And he still is!

And he’s not stuck in the past; his lyrics are still deeply relevant, and so are his causes.
In fact, Joe has one of the more interesting voices of dissent heard in recent years.

Check this out:

As for this album, well, it’s a fantastic introduction to his music, and includes some brilliant live recordings unique to this release.

Part One is made up of the best of the Fish’s early material, and captures in sound the whole San Francisco, Haight-Ashbury, Monterey kind of vibe; full of love and peace, agit-prop, finger cymbals, pot, love songs to Janis Joplin, warnings about the taking of crystal meth and some quite beautiful music.

Part Two includes some wonderfully recorded live performances, captured at the end of the Fish’s career (they split in 1970, reforming in 77 for the Reunion album).

And despite the slightly reserved nature of Part One, the Fish really kicked arse during these live recordings.

Barry Melton’s guitar playing is quite superb; to say nothing of his vocal delivery; his voice on ‘Love’ is tonsil breaking and nerve shattering. Yeah, man, he really means it.

Marijuana was one of the big flavours of the day, and the Fish weren’t afraid to celebrate it at any opportunity.

My favourite moment on this album occurs during the transition between the tracks ‘Rock and Soul Music’ and ‘Love’.

‘Rock and Soul Music’ ends with a repeated chord played seven times, staccato-like. On the eighth beat, the whole band shout in unison: ‘marijuana’, which is the cue into ‘Love’.
Okay, sounds a bit complicated.
I guess you’ve got to hear it; but honestly, cracks me up every time.

The anthemic herb even gets its own song; and the whole band takes part in an absurdist paean to their favourite plant; resulting, of course, in Pythonesque disorder, breakdown and chaos.

The album opens and closes with the band’s most famous of tunes, ‘Fixing to Die Rag’, the first version from the beginning of their career, and the second from Woodstock, the end of their initial incarnation.

The track still raises a smile, and is still able, in all its cynicism, to make the listener feel a little contrite, and listening to it now, makes one feel a little disillusioned.

It reminds me that we blew it.
An opportunity lost.
And we are now paying the consequences.

Pretzel anyone?

Country Joe and the Fish - The Life and Times of Country Joe & the Fish: From Haight-Ashbury to Woodstock (1971)

Fixing to Die Rag
Bass Strings
Flying High
Porpoise Mouth
Untitled Protest
Who Am I
Waltzing in the Moonlight
Death Sound Blues
Sing Sing Sing
Not So Sweet Martha Loraine
Rock and Soul Music
Crystal Blues
Masked Marauder
Love Machine
Fixing to Die Rag

Excellent cassette rip @ 256kbs
Grab a whiff of the sixties here for Part One
Inhale with the Fish here for Part Two


Fusion 45 said...

Just discovered your thing via Fuzzy. Thanks for the seafood. Music Junkie at Fusion 45

Anonymous said...

many thanks, this was in fact my intro to the fish back in 74, but although I've amassed the original lps over the years I lost the compilation en route - good to hear it again [esp the live tracks]

Anonymous said...

never knew the country joe bit.. hippie friend introduced me to these guys.. good music.. thanx man, roger

roy rocket said...

Glad to turn you on.
I have some other interesting Country Joe pieces.
May well post some of those in the future.
But really glad others still dig his music.
Shanti, roy

Anonymous said...

Though all other CJ&tF rercords seem to have been reissued on cd I'm not sure about this one. Pretty hard to find anyway and nice to hear those tracks again, especially the live songs that really smoke.


Anonymous said...

I managed to get part 2, but can't grab part 1. Can anything be done?
Thank you.

roy rocket said...

Keep an eye on an update; I'll re-up this.

roy rocket said...

Links fixed.
Navigate as normal

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the re-up. now I can complete this great post. Know this band well, but have never seen this one. Thanks for all your efforts.

roy rocket said...