After Country Joe McDonald had left The Fish he quickly needed to establish himself as a solo artist; to push forward the persona of mouthpiece for the disaffected, to vanguard the rallying cry of the American left.
To do this, he decided to go right back to his roots, and follow in the footsteps of others that had championed human rights before him, by getting right back to basics: the wandering balladeer, a man, a guitar and a song; capturing in performance what is really on everybody's mind (as long as they share ideology, of course - but then all human rights singers perform to those who are of the same opinion, don't they?).
This release in 1972, capturing Joe in a small, intimate venue, endorsed by a very obliging enthusiastic audience represents all that Joe was about at this time.
With the war in Vietnam still raging and a yet to be found out 'Crook' running the country, as well as an audience that would well have remembered The Fish, Woodstock and draft card burning, Joe's 'anti' persona and ideological songs go down a storm.
But it's not all politics and intellectualising. On this album Joe Mcdonald comes across as funny, engaging and very genuine; it also showcases his guitar playing, and apart from, ironically, a slightly lugubrious instrumental ('Walk in Santigo'), his playing adds great colour and vivacity to the songs.
Nice link here to a Charles Shaar Murray review written for Cream when the album was first released.
I'm not sure if he liked it or not; typical Murray, he brings his own agenda and angle to whatever it is he's supposedly writing about; but the article is still a great read, and really shows up the majority of our contemporary music journalism as being the shit that it is.
It's also worth checking out Country Joe on the excellent resource Internet Archive, where over a dozen shows are available, some uploaded by Joe himself - if you haven't visited the archive before and you go there now, don't expect to get anything done for the next few hours or so... apart from scrolling through lists and downloading performances by your favourite artists, that is.
Country Joe Mcdonald - Incredible Live (1972)
Entertainment Is My Business
Kiss My Ass
Living in the Future
Walk in Santigo
You Know What I Mean
Oh My My
Deep Down in Our Hearts
Free Some Day
I'm On the Road Again
Excellent cassette rip @320kbs
If burning remove pauses for best effect
Grab a piece of early 70s agit prop here