Live! Fillmore West 1969 Country Joe & The Fish


Psych / Garage
Catalogue Id:
VCD 139

Across the inside of the CD booklet for this album is written 'Remembering A Night In The 60s' and, although it is intriguing, it is somewhat an understatement. 'A' Night? It must have been in truth one of 'The' nights of the 60s, as it captured the classic line up of The Fish just before they fell apart. For this particular night they were also joined by an array of West Coast pals guesting from the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane to make it a really memorable night. Recorded in January 1969 at the Fillmore West; along with the Avalon Ballroom the venue was one of the most frequent places on their home territory to play. In fact the band was splintering at the time as bassist Bruce Barthol has left to go to England to form Formerly Fat Harry, and David Cohen and 'Chicken' Hirsh were to depart a month later, making this gig a last hurrah amid what must have been a substance-fuelled party atmosphere.


The ordering of tracks on this historic CD is straight-forward in that Country Joe & The Fish, with the Airplane's Jack Casady replacing Barthol on bass, taking the first half, before they are joined by other heavy friends for a nearly forty minute jam. Opening the first half with ‘Rock & Soul Music/Love’, credited to all the classic line-up, they move through the poppy ‘Here I Go Again’ and an effective six-minute run at ‘It's So Nice To Have Your Love’, before launching into a twelve-minute version of ‘Flying High’ during which Casady's bass playing is particularly strong. His bass apparently had an amp for each string that night. Barry Melton's song ‘Doctor Of Electricity’ follows, which features inspiring interplay between his guitar and Casady's bass, all underpinned by fine keyboard work. Appreciation is also due to recording engineer Ed Friedner who delivers a very fine live sound after having to fend off a street gang intent on pinching the band's truck.


The Fish's live shows had often become jam based, though the form of these jams varied somewhat with the whims of Joe and the band. With a history of being able to react to sudden musical left turns, the group was easily able to incorporate others into their ranks. For this date they were joined by the Dead's Jerry Garcia on guitar  and Mickey Hart as a second drummer, both of whom were also developing extended jams as a staple of their group's life shows. Also on stage was The Airplane's Jorma Kaukonen on guitar and Steve Miller on harp, with the latter providing the ‘Miller Riff’ section of ‘Donovan's Reef Jam’. The massed ranks of these talented musicians played free-form sections that were bookended by ‘Flying High’ and also included ‘The Masked Maurauder’, and the results that were so well captured on the night add up to what is probably one of the very best and most exciting live recordings of any era.


Track listing


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