Country Joe and the Fish were the most overtly political band identified with the San Francisco Sound of the late 1960s. The band also blended the populist folk music tradition (band leader Country Joe McDonald would release a Woody Guthrie memorial LP in the 1970s) with pronounced dada leanings.
Allegedly named after Joseph Stalin by his leftist parents, McDonald began recording in the mid-1960s, most notably three "Rag Baby" EPs which were sold on the streets in Berkeley. He then formed a folk duo with Barry Melton (aka "the Fish") in 1965. The act soon expanded into an electric band, including Bruce Barthol, David Cohen, and Chicken Hirsh. Their debut release, Electric Music for the Mind and Body (Vanguard 79244; 1967), was immediately hailed as a rock classic, featuring satirical lyrics and acid rock dominated by Meltonís swirling organ lines. Amidst continued personnel changes, the band released four more studio albums before disbanding: I-Feel-Like-Iím-Fixiní-To-Die (Vanguard 79266; 1967), Together (Vanguard 79277; 1968), Here We Are Again (Vanguard 79299; 1969), and C.J. Fish (Vanguard 6555; 1970).
McDonald decided to embark on a solo career at the outset of the 1970s. He would go on to release over twenty LPs and contribute music to several Hollywood films. Signing with Fantasy Records in the mid-1970s, he briefly reunited with the original Fish to produce an album. Much of his best recordings in the 1980s were distributed primarily in Europe, where he had toured regularly since 1967. Melton was also active for many years as a performer and recording artist. After participating in a succession of club dates with the Dinosaurs in 1982, he completed a law degree the following year. Cohen went on to produce an instruction album for Kicking Mule that demonstrated the playing techniques of Carlos Santana, Duane Allman, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, B.B. King, Jerry Garcia, and other seminal guitarists. [McDonough. 1985.]
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