Country Joe and Fish - Feels like I'm fixing to die (1967)

Posted by Amelia Swhizzagers On 12:50 AM

In general, this release doesn't approach the power and mystical satisfaction of their first album, ['Electric Music for the Mind & Body'], but still, it has its relatively stunning moments. I've always heard this basically pleasant release more as background music, but decided to finally give it the careful listen it probably deserves.
"The Fish Cheer"/"I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag" is a satirical anti-[Vietnam]war jug band piece, which is very well designed and very well played/sung [unrated].

"Who Am I?" [5 stars] has an introductory [and recurring] chorus which is lilting and tender, and a series of somewhat abstract but also very emotional meditations on the [authors'] failure to receive what life/death gives and takes away. One needs to listen to this one rather closely, as it refuses to jump out and grab one by the scruff of the neck.

"Pat's Song": Joe's 1st love song on the album. Beautiful lyrics, and great organ solo by Cohen & lead guitar solo by Melton [a little long, though]; next, a bell solo morphs into a short tarantella, after which the second verse starts, and the song repeats all the way through, except for leaving out the bell and tarantella sections. [4½ stars]

"Rock Coast Blues" [5 stars] a bouncy but mournful blues tune delivered with Joe's patented tongue-in-cheek humor. A couple of years later, the band Mother Earth founded their entire sound based on the style of this piece, [or whatever regional source Joe got it from]. CJ might have been better at it than were Mother Earth, though I'm not sure.

"Magoo" starts out almost exactly like "Bass Strings" from the previous album, but has a more meandering melody. This one is very beautiful. At times the thunderstorm (sound effect) almost overpowers the music, depending on which speakers/headphones you are using. Includes a minute-long postlude, which begins as a beautiful acoustic guitar solo and finishes improbably with a short bluesy/jazzy riff [5 stars].

"Janis" [3 stars] is Joe's pleasant love song to/about Janis Joplin. No comparison whatsoever can be made with his love song for another San Francisco diva [Grace Slick] on the first album (emotionally, this one is warm and cuddly).

"Thought Dream" this song has four false starts while Joe is chortling in the background sounding like a Bible Belt preacher [with a gospel choir intoning underneath], before temporarily morphing into the short, bluesy "Bomb Song" and finally swinging into the song proper. It's difficult to characterize this one in terms of style, but the lyrics continue in a similar vein to what was started by "Who Am I?", at a slower tempo, and provide the beginnings of emotional resolution to questions raised by the earlier song. Fades with a quick recapitulation of the "Bomb Song". [4½ stars]

["Thursday" is 'prefaced' by the infamous "Acid Commercial", performed in a similar style as "I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag", and at least as funny, and buzzy.]

"Thursday" [3½-4 stars]: what's this? Maybe jazz-folk-rock? The very few lyrics serve to introduce the 'topic' of this medium-tempo jam tune (2 acoustic guitars + electric bass). There's a somewhat tepid organ solo, then a longer, inspired [cleanly picked] electric guitar solo. After the second vocal chorus, there is a brief solo on the cymbals, then . . .

we immediately segue to the next song ["Eastern Jam"] [2½ stars]: the drum kit starts playing as the acoustic guitar [the main coloration up to this point] drops out. This is in identical tempo and key to that of "Thursday", and initially it is identical in feel, but now all electric, with drums. Various duets and trio arrangements emerge one after another as the players continue to jam together, beginning in relatively mellow acid rock style, gradually becoming strident towards the climax.

"Colors for Susan" [4 stars]. This is a long, very slow acoustic two-guitar duet (mostly just strummed chords), seasoned with mallet rolls/hits on the cymbals, occasional electric bass riffs, and bells. All in all, very soothing to listen to.
By Phil Rogers.
1. I Feel Like I'm Fixin To Die Rag
2. Who Am I
3. Pats Song
4. Rock Coast Blues
5. Magoo
6. Janis
7. Thought Dream
8. Thursday
9. Eastern Jam
10. Colors For Susan

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