Previously released on CD by Vanguard in 1994 (and in Italy on vinyl), this two-LP yellow-vinyl reissue commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of Country Joe & The Fishâ€™s farewell performances at Bill Grahamâ€™s Fillmore West. By the time the band got to this three-day run theyâ€™d already seen the 1968 departure of bassist Bill Barthol (replaced here admirably by Jefferson Airplaneâ€™s Jack Cassidy), and they welcomed local guests David Getz on â€œIt’s So Nice To Have Your Love,â€ and Jerry Garcia, Jorma Kaukonen, Steve Miller and Mickey Hart for a 38-minute jam on â€œDonovanâ€™s Reef.â€
When the band later reconvened for their 1969 album Here We Are Again, Gary Hirsh and David Cohen had also departed, and the group reassembled for Woodstock included a new rhythm section and organist. By the time of this farewell, the band had grown from the folk and blues-based Rag Baby EPs into an electric psychedelic powerhouse and a potent jam band. The group extends their studio material with instrumental interplay, unwinding â€œFlying Highâ€ into a 12-minute piece replete with bass solo, and, with Garcia and Hart helping out, stretching â€œDonovanâ€™s Reefâ€ into a 38-minute, extemporaneous essay.
Though only two years removed from the conventional length studio arrangements of I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die and Electric Music for the Mind and Body, the band had developed a free-form style for the stage that indulged the improvisational dynamics theyâ€™d developed together. Real Goneâ€™s 1000-piece limited-edition reissue is delivered in a six-panel double-gatefold sleeve with liner notes from both the setâ€™s original producer Sam Charters, and the reissueâ€™s producer, Bill Belmont. A reformulated band would achieve widespread notice at Woodstock, but this farewell performance provides an important capstone to the original groupâ€™s run. [Â©2020 Hyperbolium]