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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Country Joe And The Fish - I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die (1967 us, west coast protest acid folk psych masterpiece, 2013 digi pack double disc set)

The first three Country Joe and the Fish albums all have distinct qualities. “Electric Music For The Mind And Body” was the band’s pioneering metaphysical debut. Their third album, “Together”, featured a democratically inclined potpourri of styles. In-between came “I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Die”, a textbook example of how artist and producer can overcome a perceived shortage of material to create something of lasting value. Ironically, for a group with roots in the folk idiom, there were no acoustic guitars on “Electric Music”. Its sequel introduced these in a necessary fashion. While “Electric Music” represented the essence of the “plugged-in” Country Joe & the Fish, “I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Die” delved back to the roots of the group’s players, yet still managed to stretch their horizons.

In the spring of 1967, Country Joe & the Fish resided at the cutting edge of the San Francisco psychedelic rock renaissance, and anticipation was high for the sequel to their influential debut. This was an era where a new album was expected every six months. By introducing other aspects of the Country Joe & the Fish musical make-up, “I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Die” made up for any shortfall with its fresh perspective. Thanks to a rising profile, the group had confidence, so the new album, recorded during a residency in New York that summer, featured bold material that for the first time complemented their outspoken political stance, but in an appropriately humorous fashion. As one critic put it, Country Joe’s protest was delivered as “satiric comedies, not as invective … their power is precisely in the laughter and the release of tension they provoke.” None more so that the title tune, with its sarcastic anti-war message and the “Fish Cheer” intro which, thanks to a ruder in-person variant as well as a star turn in the movie Woodstock, guaranteed ‘The I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Die Rag’ would become the number most associated with the act.

True, the commentary could be dark and biting, but there are performances on the record that are empathetic, touching and human. For an album that, as the participants recall, was essentially cobbled together, it bears a remarkable cohesion – perhaps less from the conceptual aspect producer Sam Charters saw as the way to salvage what was workable from the group’s repertoire than an overall deftness of touch that went against the grain at the time. The delicacy the group conjured up on tracks such as ‘Magoo’ and ‘Colors For Susan’ was without precedent in rock, and there is a thread of wilful nonconformity that runs throughout.

This deluxe reissue features Charters’ original stereo and mono mixes of the album, the latter available for the first time since 1967. Bonus cuts include an unreleased alternate mix of the title track (minus sound effects), while the deluxe 40-page booklet is stuffed with rare photos and memorabilia, and comes complete with a replica of the Fish Game, as included in original copies. Most importantly, “I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Die” sounds better than ever. As Charters’ original sleeve note states, this is indeed “their own world, their own sound … their own music together.”
by Alec Palao 

Disc 1 (Stereo)
1. The Fish Cheer / I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag- 3:44
2. Who Am I- 4:05
3. Pat's Song- 5:26
4. Rock Coast Blues- 3:57
5. Magoo- 4:44
6. Janis- 2:36
7. Thought Dream- 6:39
8. Thursday (Cohen, Hirsh) - 3:20
9. Eastern Jam (Bartol, Cohen, Hirsh, Melton) - 4:27
10.Colors For Susan- 5:58
All songs by Country Joe McDonald axept where noted

Disc 2 (Mono)
1. The Fish Cheer / I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag- 3:44
2. Who Am I- 4:05
3. Pat's Song- 5:26
4. Rock Coast Blues- 3:57
5. Magoo- 4:44
6. Janis- 2:36
7. Thought Dream- 6:39
8. Thursday (Cohen, Hirsh) - 3:20
9. Eastern Jam (Bartol, Cohen, Hirsh, Melton) - 4:27
10.Colors For Susan- 5:58
11.Janis (Instrumental) - 2:37
12.I Feel Like I'm Fixin' To Die (Alternative Mix) - 3:02
All songs by Country Joe McDonald axept where noted

Country Joe And The Fish
*Country Joe McDonald - Vocals, Guitar, Bells, Tambourine
*Barry Melton - Vocals, Guitar
*David Cohen - Guitar, Organ
*Bruce Barthol - Bass, Harmonica
*Gary "Chicken" Hirsh - Drums

Country Joe discography
1965-71  The First Three E.P's
1967  Electric Music For The Mind And Body (2013 double disc remaster)
1968  Together
1969  Live! Fillmore West
1969  Here We Are Again
1970  CJ Fish
1970  Tonight I'm Singing Just For You
1971  Hold On It's Coming
1971  War War War
1973  Paris Sessions 

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adamus67 said...

The previous brilliant album, with songs of love and moments of poetry entitled "Electric Music for the Mind and Body" at the beginning 1967, was released in autumn of the same year, "I Feel Like I'm Fixin 'To Die" which collects the songs most 'beautiful and famous of the entire production of the Country Joe & The Fish. Free rock of this Californian band retains all the features of their psychedelic folk rock, indeed, want to be more 'critics, owes them the merit of having first done some good acoustic songs easy impreziosendoli of sounds' acidic.

1967's "I Feel Like I'm Fixin' To Die" found the band continuing their collaboration with producer Samuel Charters. As on the debut, namesake Joe McDonald was again responsible for the majority of the material. Like the debut, the album sported a mixture of acid-tinged political commentary ('Thought Dream' with it's anti-nuke lyric), summer-of-love ballads ('Thursday') and drug fueled instrumental psych meltdowns ('Eastern Jam'). Unfortunately, this time around McDonald seemed to have largely run out of compositional steam. As a result, much of the debut's goofy humor is absent; replaced by a less appealing emphasis on inner reflection ('Who Am I'). Among the exceptions, 'Janis' was a surprisingly sweet paean to former sweetheart Janis Joplin and the over-the-top 'Acid Commercial'. Elsewhere, little more than a throwaway effort, the goofy title track became the band's best known effort. In case you're wondering about the high asking price; well this copy includes the rare 'Fish Game' insert - looks like it's never been touched.

"The Fish Cheer & I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag" and 'a ramshackle tune against the Vietnam War, written in reality' by McDonald in 1965 was reused as a pacifist anthem. A satirical song nice, very catchy.

"Who Am I" and 'a soft ballad exact crossroads of rock electro acoustic guitar with only brief interventions and choruses myeloma.
"Pat's Song" features soft lines psychedelic read, with excellent phrasing of keyboards, xylophone and a distorted guitar and crude. A beautiful song with excellent acceleration rock him back into the initial lines. The rhythmic and 'almost a march.
"Rock Coast Blues" slides like a syncopated blues. Excellent and enjoyable rhythm line of drums and bass guitar on which a rough cracks without weighing the piece.
The dreamy "Magoo" opens on noise storms on which the dishes, the plucking of acoustic and electric guitars and the voice of Joe lead immediately to an acid rock easy extraordinary. In the final part of the piece is strengthened staying in a clear metric psychedelic.
Pizzicato again for "Janis" (for the Joplin), and 'a delicate ballad folk electro acoustic interventions really interesting keyboards and harmonica.
"The Bomb Song 'and' the intermezzo opening rocking the soft and surreal" Thought Dream ". The time dictated by bass and drums' slow. David outlines the melody with the organ, Barry outlines the electrical and gently. Great piece. "The Bomb Song (Reprise)" leads to an end.
"Acid Commercial" scanzonatamente opens with acoustic guitar and kazoo the excellent "Thursday", a folk-rock ballad from light tones acids, in which keyboards and electric guitars seem to play on sounds naive.
"Eastern Jam" and 'a scratchy rock song very well punctuated by bass and drums and congas, filled with a delicate acid and electric guitars. A great instrumental piece that sees no presence of Joe.
Acoustic instrumental "Colors for Susan" closes the album. It 'a soft folk song of six minutes with excellent arpeggios also doubled as a wise use of plates and xylophone with psychedelia harmony.

Marios;Thx...deluxe reissue
good job!

El Guajolote said...

Thanks marios!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Marios for this awesome Christmas present.

Marios said...

everything is Ok now,
I suppose it was something temporary.
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a great Christmas present.

Track 11 on Disc 2 (the instrumental version of Janis) was the B-side to the Janis 45. Very hard to find the orig 45, so thanks again! (I requested this when you posted the first album).

Marios said...

.....ALL Country Joe's releases arranged.....