on 9 October 2005
"Country Joe & the Fish's second album merits serious consideration as THE best "psychedelic" record ever made" said the previous reviewer. I agree. It is certainly worthy of almost any prize you may wish to bestow upon it. Hear that? - it's a very big BUT - I don't agree to labelling this as a purely psychedelic album, though there are certainly VERY trippy moments as on 'Magoo' (we are treated to the middle of a thunder-storm, echoing voices, sinister plucking on guitar, a constant refrain of 'stay as you are'), and the warped guitar effects found on 'Eastern Jam', and elsewhere (everywhere?) but on the whole it is more of a mixture - so it should perhaps - no DEFINITELY - have more than just the one merit, right? In parts, it is an exemplary chilled out affair, earthy, almost hippyesque, as might be inferred from the opening jug-band bluesy chant of 'I feel like I'm fixing to die' all about war, or not - depending on your ontological perspective - you may otherwise think it the music of political activists (at a time when the FBI was involved in chasing draft dodgers), yet none the less beautiful for that. 'Who Am I?' is folk at its best, 'Pat's Song' is a fusion of styles, evoking feelings of blissed out love, as well as weird acid-blues. 'Rock Coast Blues' is a low point in the album - but what a heady height for a low point! Perhaps another medal is on its way - the best blues song! 'Janis' is essentially a beautifully composed and arranged love song, with subtle lyrical overlay, mouth-organ, and harpsichord etc. Oh, but with an innovative difference - at moments reminiscent of a fairground - a beautiful song that simply MUST be heard. 'Thought Dream' utilises the sweet sound of an organ (Hammond?) to almost gospel, evangelical, spiritual heights, and begins and ends with a refrain upon dropping 'H' -Bombs. Sheer beauty, such emotion, and with such moral force. The beginning is quite a trippy affair, in my mind at least, with the song proper 'happening' initially as someone in the background trying to get started - and soon does: the rest of the song is colossal. It brings a smile to my face, and throws a tear from my eye - it is a gentle affair, like a slow lament. 'Thursday' begins with an up-tempo fun piece, an initial ditto on LSD, then flows into yet another unbelievably soft, comfortable space full of beautiful music, with the continual refrain 'I found you'. Another reviewer spoke of mood and feeling - words surely at home here. We end with 'Colours for Susan' , a mixed tempo, though incredibly gentle track- top fare.
A high point of the album? There isn't one - it is ALL SUPERB! My suggestion (to fans of psychedelia, flower power, folk, blues, soft rock, and blissed-out hippydom, is to buy it, play it, then LOVE it!