I-feel-like-i'm-fixin'-to-die Country Joe & The Fish


Psych / Garage
Catalogue Id:
VMD 79266

This second album from Country Joe & The Fish followed hot on the heels of their debut 1967 release, but it represented a major step forward with both material and the overall sound achieved by Vanguard Records' key producer Sam Charters. It quickly became one of the corner stones of the new 'psychedelic rock' of that wonderful period of musical expansion. Its key was that it was accessible in a number of ways and very much in tune with the alternative culture of those mid-sixties years, starting with the anti-Vietnam rant of the title track. Based in Country Joe's earlier folk rock/jug band days, the song had first seen light of day on their first privately produced and now very collectable EP that had only limited release in California. It was their second EP that garnered much bigger and wider sales and got them the attention of Vanguard, with whom they quickly forged ahead with their career. Yet this album hardly qualified as what is now referred to as psychedelic, as it features a number of blues songs and quieter reflective works that would now be more likely called come-down songs.

Having opened the album with overtly political crowd-pleasing satire, they immediately turned to the gently wistful ‘Who Am I’ that was destined to become a Vanguard single. It certainly did not take them into any commercial mainstream as it stalled in Billboard's Bubbling Under chart at #114 in early 1968, but this coincided with the time when album sales and exposure were becoming so much more important so it hardly mattered. The group was never going to be a threat to the Monkees, Turtles or even The Strawberry Alarm Clock, all of who were hitmakers of the time, nor would they have wanted to be. More fitting to them was a six-minute track like ‘Thought Dream’ which integrates the 'Bomb Song', very much another song of the times, with a slow and delicate song that features some lovely gossamer guitar work from lead guitarist Barry Melton. Simiar integration happens with ‘Thursday’, which opens with a jugband styled paean to LSD referd to as the 'Acid Commercial', and then drifts into a dreamy instrumental section. The group was certainly prepared to play with listeners pre-conceptions, as this track in its turn changes into ‘Eastern Jam’ that has parts of its melody reminiscent of Paul Butterfield's ‘East-West’. With other songs like ‘Janis’ (guess who that was about), ‘Pat's Song’, ‘Magoo’ and ‘Colors For Susan’, the group was able to stretch out with a really interesting and radical musical palette that was astute enough to invite its audience to share its delights rather than batter them into submission. They were musically intelligent, and they expected their audience to be so too. The fabulous album, complete with its (probably rarely played) fold-out stoner Fish Game, has quite rightly remained one of the key works of that wonderful period of growth, and still sounds as fresh as it did back in 1967.


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