1967年夏天，旧金山兴起了崇尚花朵与爱的嬉皮士运动，一时间不少年轻人涌到该市，蓄须留长发，吸食大麻及迷幻药物，参加嬉皮土公社过集体生活。从“Monterey Pop”（蒙特利尔流行音乐节）起，露天音乐节纷纷举行。由于音乐会举行的时间越来越长，乐队方面也为了表现派奏造诣，在玩布鲁斯时纷纷加长演奏时间，插入不少吉他、合成器、鼓和锡塔琴的即兴演奏，以配合台下乐迷的兴奋状态。Tne Grateful Dead Jeffson Airplane、Country Joe ＆ The Fish都是玩这类音乐的高手。
对1969的woodstock有印象的都应该记得Country Joe & the Fish乐队的出场，他那著名的“Fish”口号变成了“F** k”：
在Joe的带动下观众都一起大喊着“F ** k”。
Whew, finally they are leaving bad psychedelia behind, for the most part at least. Instead, much more focus is made on the band's political side, but that's A-OK with me; at least you can't make a serious political statement by playing five arpeggiated acoustic chords over the course of one minute. The album sleeve is supposedly decorated with a photo of Country Joe's wedding, and there's more about it in the liner notes, which apparently makes Together somewhat of a "first", followed closely by John and Yoko's Wedding Album a year later. Heavens be pleased, this is a hundred times more listenable, tho'.
It's quite messy, to tell you the truth. Nothing really sticks in my head, and confusion rules supreme, but hey, it's a FUN type of confusion at least, and the band are actually TRYING to raise some steam this time around. You know how sometimes musicians try to do something and they can't do it and it still sounds fun? Well, that's 'Rock And Soul Music' to you. See, the Fish loved James Brown a lot, and they thought of doing something "cool" and "innovative" and they decided to 'merge' rock and soul music and call it, yeah, well, you guessed. Well, the result is indeed a bit of R'n'B done without brass but with a lot of wailing guitar, not very innovative, I'd say, compared to the actual work of James Brown, or Sly Stone, but it's fun! It's fun to hear Joe grunt his way through the uhhhhhhs and owwwwws as if he were moving heavy furniture, fun to hear the amateurish guitar solos, fun to hear the "we call it the sock-it-to-me riff" consisting of, count it, one power chord, fun to hear Joe say the word 'd-d-d-d-dynamite', and fun to hear that 'your love is like a rainbow' conclusion. Actually, the short snippet of the tune that was shown in the Woodstock movie was done much tighter than it was here in this early version, but this one is no slouch either. These guys are really so much into it it's tremendous fun to hear them going.
I was originally afraid that would be the end of the fun, because the second song, 'Susan', is a quiet lenient ballad (although still better than most of the stuff on Fixin'-To-Die), but turns out that the quiet vibe only reappears seven tracks later in 'Away Bounce My Bubbles', exactly the kind of minimalist drugged-out crap that killed off the previous album. Fortunately, it's just two and a half minutes long. And then there's Joe's 'An Untitled Protest', which he comments upon in the liner notes as "A Death Mantra. No More War!", and that's a pretty accurate description. Again, it kinda sucks, but it's also quite unnerving to hear such a gloomy, apocalyptic note from such a generally 'good-timey' band, not to mention actually ending the album on it.
However, the sequence from track 4 to track 8 is pretty crazy. First we have 'Bright Suburban Mr & Mrs Clean Machine', where Joe and Co. satirize everyday middle-class life ('look away, fill your heads with decay...') to a cozy little music-hall number, complete with a little tap-dancing and ending with a "third floor: underwear, Barbie dolls, war toys, underarm deodorants, hair-spray, plastic artificial flowers, bubble bath powder" announcement. Then there's the hilarious 'Good Guys/Bad Guys Cheer', which is a real hoot and I'm not gonna spoil the secret here, particularly since it would look much dumber on paper than it does on record; it leads into 'The Streets Of Your Town', a tuneless, but very passionate rant against New York City... the loony 'Fish Moan'... then, 'The Harlem Song', which is almost like a tiny four-minute rock opera about the district, replete with introduction, verses, bits of comic dialog, well, a song full of life, if you know what I mean. And 'Waltzing In The Moonlight' is a hilarious parody on Latin music if there ever was one. Well, I dunno, maybe it was unintentionally hilarious, which would only make it more hilarious.
Anyway, good, bad, whatever, I hereby declare this to be the best Country Joe & The Fish album. It's not funny enough to be the epitome of funniness, not corny enough to be the epitome of corniness, not aggressive enough to be the epitome of aggressiveness, but somehow it tries to be all these things at once, fails, and still remains entertaining and bursting with life and energy. Where Fixin' To Die just sucks because it's so slow, stoned, and, well, boring, this one is anything but boring. In fact, I prefer to think of it in terms of a musical or a little theatrical performance rather than a collection of songs; as a collection of isolated songs, it would get an 8 from me at most. Oh, and don't forget to have the lyrics sheet beside you when you're listening. That's the point.
01. Rock And Soul Music
03. Mojo Navigator
04. Bright Suburban Mr. & Mrs. Clean Machine
05. Good Guys/Bad Guys Cheer and The Streets Of Your Town
06. The Fish Moan
07. The Harlem Song
08. Waltzing In The Moonlight
09. Away Bounce My Bubbles
11. An Untitled Protest