Country Joe McDonald- Vocals, Guitar, Bells, Tambourine
Barry Melton- Vocals, Guitar
David Cohen- Guitar, Organ
Bruce Barthol- Bass, Harmonic
Gary “Chicken” Hirsh- Drums
Country Joe and the Fish were a band that got their start in Berkeley, California in 1965. They were considered an influential band in the beginning of the psychedelic and acid rock movement in the middle to late sixties. Electric Music for the Body and Mind was their debut record released in 1967, and was one of the first psychedelic albums released in the San Francisco Bay area. It is considered to be one of the most important records of the psychedelic era in music in the late sixties.
Country Joe and the Fish were known for their political and cultural songs that intended to be critical of the circumstances in the United States at the end of the sixties. Critical of government and policy, but also describing what life was like in the counterculture movement in the country at the time. Their music sometimes showed a total disdain for the Vietnam war, the United States Presidency, and other issues of the day. Electronic Music for the Body and Mind is not only their debut, but also contained their only charting single, Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine, and on this record also contained some of their most experimental songs. There are many arrangements consisting of organ along with the coupling of guitars which attributed to the sound that would become known as acid rock.
Three songs off the record, Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine, Section 43, and Grace, were regularly played on local radio stations in San Francisco, which even though were never national hits, were very popular in the Bay area.
Section 43 is one of my favorite songs on the album, an experimental, instrumental piece that was innovative, and set the groundwork for the sound that would be recognised as acid rock, with its screeching organ, which works well for the hippie experience of the times. It is the longest song on the record. Turn the lights off and turn the lava lamp on, it is the perfect song to catch the feel and the aura of the sixties. Great stuff!
Super Bird is a short song that takes shots at Lyndon Baines Johnson, the President of the United States at the time that the record was recorded. It is a political song expressing the bands displeasure with his policies and the way the country was heading, especially when it came to the handling of the Vietnam War.
The Masked Marauder is another instrumental, with excellent organ work, that is, to me, the most recognisable song on the record. Whenever I think of this record, this is the song that is the most satisfying listen, and remains with me long after I hear it. It has a great guitar solo in the middle of the song, and except for the La La La, which is the only lyric, it is one of my favorite instrumentals of the psychedelic era.
The last song on the record, Grace, is the second longest song on the record at just over 7 minutes, and is a song dedicated to Grace Slick, lead singer of the Jefferson Airplane. This a great psychedelic record, excellent from beginning to end. If you want to hear rock music the way it was produced in the era of the late sixties, the sound musically represented, and the social commentary of the times, this is one of the best.