3.31-THE MASKED MARAUDER (Country Joe & the Fish)

Country Joe & the Fish


The Masked Marauder is the first of just a few instrumentals that I've included in the Trance Love Airwaves. It wasn't the first instrumental produced in the psychedelic period. There were two movie soundtrack instrumentals on the Beach Boy's Pet Sounds, a noisy experiment with musique concrete in the Byrds' chant Lear Jet on the album Fifth Dimension, and recently, Jefferson Airplane had released the classically influenced Embryonic Journey on their album Surrealistic Pillow. Embryonic Journey however seems intentionally to be demonstrating that Jorma Kaukonen had classical guitar training, rather than expressing a psychedelic spirit. (It is like Robbie Krieger's work in the Doors' Spanish Caravan in this regard.) In my estimation, The Masked Marauder is one of the first instrumentals of the psychedelic spirit, along with Country Joe & the Fish’s Section 43.

The Masked Marauder seems to have been a current comic book villain, appearing in 1966 and continuing into the next year. He was, according to Wikipedia, an engineering genius, capable of creating levitation/teleportation rays, androids, exoskeleton armor, and blinding opti-blasts. The instrumental named after the comic book character displays some of his levitation and teleportation. David Cohen’s acidic organ, in quality between wild Al Kooper on Dylan records and the Doors' more accomplished and spookier Ray Manzareck, moves the listener quickly through the first section. Its humor reflects Don Preston’s use of organ in Mothers of Invention. This is followed by an electric guitar jam over the same melody for a second soundscape. The B section is in waltz time, the organ emphasizing the beat while another keyboard improvises over it and Joe McDonald la-las the new melody. This is followed by a harmonica riff along the B melody for an alternate perspective. And then, with a drum roll similar to Jimmy Carl Black in the Mothers of Invention, it’s quickly back to one round of the A section on the acidic organ to return the listener to where the song began, before fading away. The listener feels taken a greater distance than what a little over three minutes can hold because of the four changes in musical texture.