Country Joe & the Fish – Opher’s World pays tribute to genius.

At the dawn of the West Coast Acid Rock the bands came flooding out of San Francisco and Los Angeles. Activated by the social poetry of Bob Dylan and others a generation of young people had been awoken and burgeoning alternative Hippie communities had sprung up and flourished in a number of American cities. These young people had dropped out and formed their own creative communities, supporting each other and espousing their own values of peace, love, sharing and equality. They rejected the capitalist rat-race and were seeking something more fulfilling and meaningful. They were not turned on by the dream of a house in suburbia and the acquisition of money. They believed that there had to be more fun and purpose to life; that life was about community. They stood for political involvement, anti-war principles, civil rights and equality. With their long hair, bright colours and peace signs they made it clear that they opposed the principles of the society they had divorced themselves from.
The San Francisco alternative community gave rise to a number of great Rock Bands including Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service and Big Brother and the Holding Company, but my favourite band was always Country Joe and the Fish.
The scene was centred around Haight Asbury with clubs like Bill Grahame’s Fillmore West, Avalon Ballroom, Longshoreman’s hall, Winterland and the Carousel. There were ‘happenings’ in the Golden Gate Park where the ‘tribes’ would come together to reassert their apartness.
I fell in love with Country Joe and the Fish from the moment I heard that new guitar sound created by Barry Melton. That was confirmed when Country Joe’s crystal clear voice soared in. What was even more of a clincher was the political stance of a number of their songs.
They were the most overtly political of the West Coast Bands with songs about the Vietnam War, the H-Bomb and disparaging ditties about Nixon and LBJ. My type of band! They also produced these ethereal trippy numbers around Cohen’s organ sound that were paeans to acid.
Country Joe and the Fish were the most extreme of the West Coast groups. Those first few albums were the epitome of Acid Rock.

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