Monday, February 3, 2020

Country Joe & The Fish - Electric Music For The Mind And Body (1967) [Mono WLP]

Country Joe & The Fish - Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Original 1967 White Label Promotional LP
Vanguard VRS-9244 ~ MONO MIX
~ThePoodleBites Rip in 96kHz / 24bit FLAC + full high-res scans~

This Berkeley, California-based group's legendary debut has been considered by some to be the most psychedelic record by anyone ever; whether or not you agree with that assessment, it probably does not overstate the album's importance to the genre. Electric Music For The Mind And Body appeared at a time when psychedelic music was still in its infancy, and indeed many themes present here would find their way onto other late-'60s records, e.g. Ultimate Spinach. Unfortunately the album has been quite misrepresented in the digital era by a plethora of bad CD reissues, leaving most fans to turn to scratchy original records on aging equipment to hear the music at least somewhat properly.

I'm so excited to finally present this rip on my blog in stellar sound quality. I've been wanting to do this scarcer monaural version of this album for years, but found only a handful of noisy mono copies before this pristine white-label promo surprisingly dropped into my hands. This superior mono mix has only been issued twice, once upon original issue in 1967 and once again upon release of a dreadful revisionist CD reissue from 2013 (see my write-up below for details). The transfer & restoration presented here gives to my estimation the closest possible representation of the mono master tapes available to date. I think this will stand as the definitive version of this classic psychedelic LP. 


I originally ripped the stereo mix of this album some years before this blog existed, and was then surprised to find that the original stereo LP was superior to both the later CD and LP reissues by quite some margin. My restoration skills have evolved quite a bit since that original transfer, so I'm quite delighted to finally improve upon those existing shares now posted here. While not an altogether terrible mix, the stereo version of this album fell victim to bad mix-down choices which were common in the day (e.g. drums all in the right channel, poor balance upon fold-down, ...) which renders this tasty mono version sounding comparatively better today. Most will likely agree that the band's debut is best heard in the mono version presented here, and this WLP was pressed from the the very first original unworn stampers, a somewhat difficult thing to find these days with popular major-label releases.




















The mono mix was first reissued on CD in 2013 by Vanguard/Ace, compiled with a first-ever reissue of the original stereo mix (heavily noise reduced vinyl transfer, avoid at all costs!). The mono mix appeared to be from master tapes, but with a few big issues. Firstly, the mastering was done way too loud -- every track is limiting, and the dynamics of the recordings are totally lost due to overuse of compressors. Secondly, the equalization was totally cranked for a "more modern" sound, again destroying the natural sound of the recording. Thirdly the CD speed is slightly too fast, as is easily determined by comparing to original LPs on various equipment or by noting the recording's hum is slightly above its nominal value. Finally (and perhaps most frustratingly), it appears that either the stereo mix or multi-track masters were used for some occasional splicing, heard most obviously at the end of "Bass Strings." On the original mono mix, Joe McDonald's voice is drenched in reverb and his whispering of "L.S.D." for the second time is completely inaudible in the song's fade out; on the CD remaster/remix, the reverb is covered up with Joe's voice being much louder, and the second "L.S.D." is loud and clear. It's despicable that, over 50 years after initial release, a rip is necessary due to professional engineers tampering with this record's history!

Given the rarity of pristine mono copies these days and my appreciation of this album's longstanding history, I've taken a very "hands off" approach to mastering this item. My intention has been to preserve as best as possible the mastering of the original release and the sound of the master tapes. That means that 60Hz hum and its various overtones, present from the mixing console and also heard on the CD remaster in the parts not blanketed with noise reduction, are present here, although it would have been trivial for me to take this out without any noticeable damage to the music. It also means that the non-vinyl distortions/clicks heard primarily in "Martha Lorraine" but also in other tracks such as "Super Bird" and "Grace" (which you may or may not even hear) have been left intact. All these noises are part of the historic sound of this recording and better off left alone. I was extremely careful about which clicks I removed versus left in, having compared 1:1 with the CD reissue to ensure I didn't harm parts of the original recording. I've downloaded files from other rippers who have said things along the lines of "all that noise is on the tape!" only to find a master tape CD myself and realize the ripper either 1) couldn't hear the noise that I could, or 2) was otherwise totally lying; followers of my blog here will know that I am picky about audio quality and that I can guarantee my results.

So, with all those details out of the way and now that you're salivating to actually hear this thing, I present to you: the Country Joe & The Fish debut album in gloriously unhindered mono beauty . . .


Line-Up:
Country Joe McDonald - vocals, guitar, bells, tambourine
Barry "The Fish" Melton - vocals, guitar
David Bennett Cohen - guitar, organ
Bruce Barthol - bass, harmonica
Chicken Hirsch - drums

Track Listing:
1) "Flying High" – 2:51
2) "Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine" – 4:33
3) "Death Sound" – 4:28
4) "Porpoise Mouth" – 2:53
5) "Section 43" – 7:23
6) "Super Bird" – 2:09
7) "Sad and Lonely Times" – 2:28
8) "Love" – 2:27
9) "Bass Strings" – 5:11
10) "The Masked Marauder" – 3:13
11) "Grace" – 7:09

Vinyl Condition: M-

Dynamic Range: DR 13

Equipment Lineage:
– Audio-Technica AT150MLx Dual Moving-Magnet Cartridge
– Audio-Technica AT-LP1240-USB Direct Drive Professional Turntable (internal stock preamp/ADC removed)
– TCC TC-754 RIAA Phono Preamp (new regulated power supply, added LM7812 regulator)
– Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 MkII (96kHz / 24bit)
– Adobe Audition CC 2019 (recording)
– iZotope RX 7 Audio Editor (manual declicking, mono fold, EQ subtraction, additional adjustments)
– Audacity 2.3.3 (fades between tracks, split tracks)
– Foobar2000 v1.5.1 (tagging, dynamic range analysis)

Thanks for taking the time to read my posts and check out my blog. I'd greatly appreciate it if you leave a small comment below. Notes from my readers are what inspire me to keep going. Thanks! 
Google Drive: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1i7Thxj9LLKVOjK2rTGz7akVosGrqeaae?usp=sharing
Enjoy! :)

38 comments:

  1. This is so cool! Your rip rips Big Beat to pieces. This makes me wish for some good old blue sunshine to take while listening! Thank You. Any plans to do the second album?

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    1. Don't eat the blue acid... thanks for the comment! I did a restoration of the 2nd LP (in stereo) from a sealed original copy, available here: https://upvhq.blogspot.com/2018/08/country-joe-fish-i-feel-like-im-fixin.html

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  2. Thank you so much foe another superb work. No words can express how grateful i am to finally have a chance to listen to this great album in full its glory! Made my day! Peace and health!!!

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment here; enjoy! :)

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  3. Danny SNOTT...you unprincipled pillock...you decrepit ninnyhammer...you loathsome ettifogger...BE GONE!

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    1. LOL... his nonsense has been reported as spam and obfuscated from the page.

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  4. One of my favourite bands. And this rip is gorgeous. Thank you!

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  5. brilliant, thanks for sharing this!

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  6. This LP is a true psychedelic gem- vastly underrated.Thank you for sharing-

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  7. Many thanks for this one too; much better than the "official" mono version. Revisionism is one of the great sins of the recording industry.

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    1. And yet here we are 50 years later with people thinking it's okay to commit these sonic atrocities... glad to correct this for the world. Thanks for the comment man!

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  8. Thanks for all of the hard work that you put into these rips. Nice to hear this the way it is supposed to be heard.

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    1. Thanks! Glad the work is appreciated by some like-minded individuals :)

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  9. I hear a loud "pop" before each track...was wondering if the Great Poodle could look into that(?)

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    1. There is no such problem with the files. It sounds to me like you have an issue with your soundcard. FiiO makes some really nice DACs, I recommend upgrading to their M3K if you're on a budget.

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    2. @Anonymous: I had to delete your response comment because I don't want names mentioned directly on the blog, but I'm glad you figured out the problem. Enjoy the music & feel free to dig around more on this site... :)

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  10. Yes, I was going to chime in as well, I'm hearing no such pop. Rip sounds incredible! Also, The Poodle's rips make PBthal's seem amateur by comparison!

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    1. Thanks kindly for your comment man! There's more to come. :)

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    2. @Psych...the pops were due to this crappy CD burning program I was using.

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  11. You have truly given us the only proper way to hear this album. Your work is the apex of salvaging recordings once again!!!

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    1. Glad you like it -- thanks for the comment & enjoy! :)

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  12. Tremendous. Never heard this classic sound as good. Archaeology at its best.

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    1. Thanks -- this great album deserved a better digital mastering!

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  13. Great work...I tried tracking down a MONO rip last year, and couldn't find one. Now .....DISCOGS lists the single version as being 3:06...presumably that's an edited version of the album track, and not a unique take? Does anyone know?

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  14. Whoops...the single version of "Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine."

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  15. beautiful sound, so much better than my CD!!

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    1. Of course, I wouldn't post if it wasn't :) Thanks & enjoy!

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  16. I got this record in 3 different versions. 2 Japanese HR discs and a cheap US edition. However this vinyl edition is brilliant. A new experience of something known. My favorite song is still "Section 43".....goose pimples guaranteed! Thank you! Even the other edition in this blog is great. It makes sense to have them both ;)

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    1. The old '80s CD is necessary to have for completists, as it contains a stereo remix of this album available nowhere else (to my knowledge). It sounds good, but I prefer the original mixes.

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  17. Thank you for this, Country Joe and the Fish are the apex of high.
    You are doing the world of psychedelic music a great service with the production from your majik mind. Whoever you are, you control the third eye Patrick the Lama once had in his possession. Come from behind that curtain and take a bow.

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    1. Thanks for your very kind comment! Good to know that these sounds are getting into the hands of other fans. Keep an eye out, there are more "big" posts coming, with one aimed right towards other fans of Lundborg... :)

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  18. Thank you so much for posting this! I've never really heard the album before and I've loved it from the first listen of this wonderful MONO rip!

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  19. Thanks for posting this, you made this "Fish head" very happy. Thanks and be safe.

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  20. great to hear this mono version, i have a orig stereo, be interesting to compare thanx alot for this and all the shares :)

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