13 February 2014

Country Joe and the Fish - 1967 - Electric Music For the Body and Soul

Quality: 4.5 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4 out of 5

This one was not particularly obscure in its time, but this is a band that has perhaps unjustly drifted towards the edges of obscurity in the time since.  Although Country Joe McDonald is still notorious for his "F-I-S-H" chant at Woodstock, I rarely come across any discussions of this absolutely fantastic debut album.  You can take the mid-60's Beatles, Americanize them with the Byrds and the Buffalo Springfield (should that be Canadianize?), and then throw them directly into the psychedelic eye of San Francisco armed with jug band sensibilities.  With absolutely stellar songwriting and execution, this easily stands up with any of any of the other Summer of Love luminaries.  I grew up with this LP in the family record collection, and to this day when I hear the term 'psychedelic rock,' this album cover is usually the first thing that pops to mind.

Everything on this disc is pretty good.  Those first two tracks, "Flying High" and "Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine" drag you right on in as rough-edged, yet poppy confections that have San Francisco scene written all over them.  You get the full psychedelic lightshow, ballroom blast on the seven minute long "Section 43."  My father told me on multiple occasions that he had wanted "Porpoise Mouth" played at his wedding (it wasn't), but I could never tell if he was joking or not.  "Superbird" serves up another top-notch, full-tilt shuffle, while "Grace" ends the album by taking us to the ghostly outer atmosphere of Height Ashbury-laced folk rock.

I imagine quite of few of those reading this are already completely down with this recording, but I'm guessing that this'll be new for some of you.  This is one of those psychedelic uber-
classics along the lines of "Surrealistic Pillow" or "Buffalo Springfield" again, but I have the impression that it's gotten a little lost in the wilderness.  I could be wrong, but this is prime, key rock to groove along with.


Anonymous said...


Mystere2 said...

'Electric Music for the Mind and Body' was psychedelic music for me. I found it at the same time as the Ring Trilogy. The sensuality and wonder of the music will be forever associated with Middle Earth to me. Porpoise Mouth indeed? Country Joe had a world weary way with words that matter of factly caught the ineffable. Put it on and sit back to wonder and wander. At my pad it certainly launched a dozen trips.

Anonymous said...

Last year's remaster - the first good digital transfer, and from the original tapes, coupled with the explosive original mono mix - is the one to get.

Flake Cosmo said...

Definitely one of the great psychedelic albums, but you are so right, in discussions of great psych albums, I rarely hear this one mentioned anymore. It's also one of the greatest album titles ever.

Gusman Bluesman said...

I can't believe what my eyes are reading!! f**king Dr. Schluss reviewing my favorite album of all time!. strange you didn't say anything about "Bass Strings", a really, really psychedelic anthem. Your blog just get nicer with this, so thanks.

Gusman Bluesman said...

btw, kinda hate to do this but you missed the album's name in the title of the post.