Country Joe and the Fish, 'Electric Music for the Mind and Body'
At first, Country Joe and the Fish were indie rockers.
Three tracks on this trip-music classic, including the stoner's hymn "Bass
Strings" and the drifting instrumental "Section 43," were
initially cut by the Berkeley band for a 1966 EP on singer-songwriter Joe
McDonald's agitprop label, Rag Baby. He started the Fish as a protest jug band
(the name combines nods to Joseph Stalin and Mao Tsetung) but here temporarily
kept his left-wing zest in check. Flanked by the electric organ of David Cohen
and Barry Melton's biting-treble guitar, McDonald spread with a preacher's zeal
and spearing wit the local gospel of chemical travel and carnal freedom in
"Flying High," "Happiness Is a Porpoise Mouth" and
"Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine." In fact, Vanguard insisted the Fish
not include one of their most popular tunes, a McDonald zinger that later
became a singalong pillar of the anti-war movement: