The eighteen tracks collected here have been compiled from the seven solo albums that Joe McDonald cut for Vanguard Records between 1969 and 1975 and the one-off soundtrack album for the film Quiet Days In Clichy. After the San Francisco-based Country Joe & the Fish years of 1965 - 1969 and the initial couple of Nashville-recorded solo albums when Joe re-visited Woody Guthrie songs on one and a set of well known country standards like ‘Ring Of Fire’ and ‘Six Days On The Road’ on the other, Joe's horizons broadened as he traveled to Europe, with him undertaking the writing of soundtrack music for the first time for the afore-mentioned film of the Henry Miller novel, and included here is ‘Mara’ from that project. The third solo album “Hold On It's Coming” was recorded in London in the summer of 1970, with one track, ‘Air Algiers’, describing Eldrige Cleaver's 'getaway' from the US, though it could equally suit Joe's own departure. The album's title track included the talents of Spencer Davis on guitar, vocals and harmonica, while he is joined by guitarist Peter Green on ‘Air Algiers’.
It was obvious by this time that Joe McDonald wasn't about to follow any pre-planned career progression in any accepted sense as after the two Nashville albums and the rockier London album, for the fourth one, “War, War, War”, he went back to some stripped-down basics. Included here are two poems by Robert Service that Joe had set to music, ‘Man From Athabaska’ and ‘The Call’, both of which remind us of Joe's talent for making us totally believe in the themes and roots of songs. Next comes a song from the fifth album, with the choice of a live outing being made to show how Joe thrived in this environment with direct audience contact with just the man and his guitar. ‘Living In The Future In A Plastic Dome’ is certainly tongue-in-cheek, but at the same time it has at its root Joe's social concern and desire to make his listeners think. The same could be said for the one-off 7" single ‘Fantasy’ from 1973. For this one Joe teamed up with The Pretty Things for a decidedly different song that features a big thumpy drum beat of almost Spectorian proportions that certainly demands attention, though it never appeared on an album at the time. The same year Joe was playing and recording in France, as evidenced in the Paris sessions album that included even more musical pals like pianist Dorothy Moskowitz and members from Big Brother & the Holding Company. Two tracks from Paris sessions, ‘Movin'’ and ‘St. Tropez’, are included, and we also experience an almost carnival feel of Joe's All-Star Band on the live track ‘Sweet Marie’, the first time this has been made available. This CD closes most suitably with three from the “Essential Country Joe” album, including ‘Memories’ and ‘It's Finally Over’, eloquently describing the trials and tribulations of working bands.