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4.7 out of 5 stars
49


HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 4 December 2014
Sometimes you stumble on a reissue that blows you away - and this is one of them. I'm not quite sure how this nugget escaped me - but I'm glad I caught up with it. Most collectors will know the name Ace Records of the UK and their long-held reputation for quality CD reissues - but even they've outdone themselves on this sucker. All hippy jokes aside - it's time you expanded your mind and depleted that wallet. Here are the groovy people details (with angel bands and the I Ching)...

Released April 2013 - "Electric Music For The Mind And Body" by COUNTRY JOE & THE FISH is a 2CD Set on Ace/Vanguard Masters VMD2 79244 (Barcode 029667047425) and breaks downs as follows:

Disc 2 (44:28 minutes):
1. Flying High
2. Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine
3. Death Sound (Blues)
4. Happiness Is A Porpoise Mouth
5. Section 43
6. Superbird [Side 2]
7. Sad And Lonely Times
8. Love
9. Bass Strings
10. The Masked Marauder
11. Grace
Tracks 1 to 11 are the original MONO mix - released May 1967 in the USA on Vanguard Records VRS 9244 and October 1967 in the UK on Fontana TFL 6081

Disc 2 (44:33 minutes)
Track list as above - 1 to 11 are the original STEREO mix - released May 1967 on Vanguard VSD 79244 in the USA and October 1967 in the UK on Fontana STFL 6081

JOE McDONALD - Lead and Harmony Vocals, Guitars, Bells and Tambourine
BARRY MELTON - Vocals and Lead Guitar
DAVID COHEN - Rhythm and Lead Guitar and Organ
BRUCE BARTHOL - Bass and Harmonica
GARY "CHICKEN" HIRSH - Drums and Backing Vocals

Presented in a three-way foldout card digipak (rather like one of Universal's Deluxe Editions) - the inner left flap pictures a Tape Box from 3 April 1967 for the MONO MASTER - while beneath the centre and right see-through CD trays are repros of the Mono and Stereo Vanguard Records labels (nice attention to detail). But they're nothing to the 40-page-booklet which is properly brilliant. It's rammed to the gunnels with period posters for live shows at the Fillmore, Fairfax Park, Golden Sheaf Bakery, Jabberwock...and so on. There's Berkeley Gazette reviews, Billboard Posters, Comic Strips, Vanguard Records Publicity Photos, Nude Lady Fliers, Buttons, UK Fontana 7" singles, Danish Picture Sleeves - there's even an unused colour photo on Page 1 as alternate sleeve art. There's a huge essay on the band and the making of the album by ALEC PALAO right up until Page 19 - with the second half of the booklet supplying song-by-song analysis and lyrics - all of it peppered with fantastic period California Posters with Psychedelic artwork.

And as ever with Ace Records of the UK - the sound quality makes mincemeat of all that went before it - remastered by NICK ROBBINS at Sound mastering from first generation tapes. This really is a gorgeous transfer - I played "Flying High" first in Mono and then after in Stereo - both sound amazing. The vocal is to the fore but the guitars battling each other are clear without being intrusive. The same applies to the screaming keyboard intro to "Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine" - but when the band kicks in - the punch is incredible - what a great song too (not surprising it was picked as a single - Vanguard 35052). The guitar battles continue big time in "Death Sound" - the left speaker letting rip while the rhythm fleshes out the right and back again. All of the brilliant SAMUEL CHARTERS Production values are now `out there' to be heard - clear and full like The Doors CDs are.

"Porpoise Mouth" again has harsh separation of instruments - but you can `hear' them now with a clarity that's spine tingling. The different stoner keys/guitars of the near eight-minute "Section 43" instrumental again conjure up images of The Doors sitting around at some Beach House in California where there's a light show, bean bags, cool chicks and way too many pills that aren't aspirins - what a great trip (and the transfer is fabulous). "Gonna send you back to Texas...make you work on your ranch..." McDonald croons on the anti-square song "Superbird" - a witty rant against 50's repression and conformity. They get all Byrds jangly with "Sad And Lonely Times" while Barry Melton growls his best Beefheart on his lead vocal in "Love" which has superb organ work from Cohen (it was the B-side of "Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine" in the UK on Fontana TF 882 in 1967). The bluesy trip of "Bass Strings" is probably one of the best songs on the album - five minutes of languid keyboard Psych with McDonald sounding more sincere that before on the vocal. "The Masked Marauder" (B-side to "Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine" in the USA on Vanguard 35052) is the album's sort-of second instrumental - being peppered with a "La La La" vocal refrain while the keys and harmonica battle it out. It finishes on the seven-minute "Grace" - dripping with overdubbed bells, tingles and dripping water - suitably trippy and so West Coast.

It's been years since I heard "Electric Music For The Mind And Body" sound so damn good - and a very tasty reminder of why it's name-checked so much as the starting point of Psych and all that followed.

A fabulous reissue and surely a remastering award-winner...
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HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 12 April 2013
Alex Palao, who is largely responsible for this excellent reissue package, describes it thus:

"This deluxe edition is the first time producer Sam Charters' original stereo mixdown of "Electric Music for the Mind and Body" has been reissued on compact disc. In the decade after the album was first released, the 2-track master suffered irreparable tape damage and oxide loss. In the early 1980s, a decision was made by Vanguard to remix the record, and that is how it has appeared in subsequent repackages. The mono mix, which has notable disparities to the stereo, has also not been available since the late 1960s."

What Alex doesn't tell us is what the tape source of the stereo mix used here is, but as Ace's Roger Armstrong was involved in the archive research I guess we can trust its authenticity! The two versions included in this release, mono and stereo, have been mastered by Nick Robbins at Sound Mastering Ltd and are up to Ace's usual high audio standard - but listen out for the curious end to "Death Sound" on the mono mix, not Nick's fault I'm sure! Also included is a forty page booklet which contains lots of information about the music itself, interviews with band members, track details, lyrics and many illustrations and facsimiles.

Electric Music for the Mind and Body was one of my favourite albums of 1967 with the music drifting into the night as played by John Peel on Radio London during that magical summer. One of the most important albums of that year this new package from Ace has finally done it full justice on CD. Even if you have the earlier CD release this new version is well worth adding to your collection. Amazon currently has reviews for both versions of the CD grouped together - any review dated before April 2013 will refer to the earlier CD release! I have both and both are good, however the deluxe version is now the one to get for fans and purists.
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on 30 September 2013
Up to now, I had not owned any Country Joe & The Fish, apart from the tracks included on the Woodstock soundtrack (both the original 1970 issue and the 6-CD box from 2009 that celebrated the 40th Anniversary by giving us a nice wide sampling of that crazy, beautiful, muddy hot mess, that disaster-area festival). When I saw this new remaster and the forthcoming (and by the time I write this, available) 2 CD remaster of I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die, I figured it was time to rectify that omission from my ever-widening CD collection.

And I certainly don't regret it - Electric Music for the Mind and Body is vital '67 psychedelia. It's all here: Joe McDonald's biting lyrics, David Cohen's cheezy-but-so-right Farfisa organ, Barry Melton's stinging guitar leads, and the able rhythm section that was Bruce Barthol and Gary "Chicken" Hirsh. It starts off with "Flying High," Country Joe's tale of hitchhiking and being given a ride by two hippies in a Cadillac; "Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine" is about a girl who isn't all she's cracked up to be; "Death Sound" is haunting, and "Bass Strings" provides some serious atmosphere (my only other experience with this track was as a cover recorded by the American Pagan psych-folk group Green Crown, retitled "Washed in Green (Bass Strings)"). Perhaps the least essential track of the lot is the poke at LBJ, "Superbird," which is just risible.

The two mixes are well worth having - the original mono mix, unavailable for over 40 years, and the original stereo mix (later reissues used a remix), and the booklet notes are most informative, detailing the formation and rise of the band and their seemingly unlikely signing to Vanguard Records, which was badly in need of some hip cache at the time. Joe McDonald and the other band members offer their remembrances of these days along with ED Denson (a prime mover in the operation of John Fahey's label, Takoma Records) and Sam Charters, and you feel as if you could have been there - or, at least, you wish you had been. And for the price of a tenner, you can't go wrong. This album was and is a pivotal signpost on the road to and through psychedelia and the heady days of '60s rock 'n' roll; it is essential listening.
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on 7 March 2014
I must confess that never heard this amazing band completely before, except their famous appearance on the Woodstock.I saw many times their albums in cd shops but never decided to buy any album all this years. It's not much unlike from other contemporaries from Bay Area of that period.This wonderful music has closeness with Serpent Power(another brilliant from Vanguard's archives),from Mad River to early Grateful Dead.It's nice to hear dreamy Farfisa's psychedelic"flavorings" again here because their organist David Cohen reminds me on early Pigpen's style.Anyway,it's alike a little bit like the first album from Youngbloods,particulary guitar style of Barry Melton is evident enough.This is a truly classic,simply,a timeless masterpiece and one of the best examples from West Coast area.Very enjoyable debut!
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on 10 May 2017
have got this on vinyl but felt the need to have a copy on cd to play when ever I want to relive my childhood
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on 9 August 2015
bought this as I never go round to buying the LP when it first came out the musicianship is excellent and better than one realized at the time as quality of hi fi equipment has vastly improved.
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on 21 March 2014
I would think you would have to have known Country Joe from antiquity to love it, having said that my 20 something daughter also loved it. Maybe not as good as the Fish Cheer album but definitely one for the collection. The vocals are good the guitar floats effortlessly around the tunes in haunting fashion. Its very dated but that is because it's 40 years old and does seem to stand the test of time.
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on 4 April 2012
A great album in a time of great albums. It has dated a bit - but the music still has that magic something that renders it timeless, great guitar work, fabulous melodies and a touch of the darkness that the Doors exemplified and the VU took to the bank. Very higly recommended.
4 people found this helpful
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on 27 November 2015
this is a classicwestcoast jugbandfrom the sixties so it's around that you either like or not I think they are great and original aswellasintersstinglyrics
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on 24 September 2015
Just like I Feel Like I'm Fixin' To Die, this album is amazing, my other half had them on vinyl many years ago and I'd been looking to get them for him again, very happy.
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