First, a quick background check: Barry “The Fish” Melton played lead guitar on the San Francisco scene’s first psychedelic record, and went on to play the Monterey and Woodstock festivals. His new “neo-psychedelic” release with Parisian guitarist/vocalist Stephan Missri and band is, in a word, extraordinary. It’s trippy, politically and socially conscious, and brilliantly played. Deadheads – Garcia freaks in particular – will love Melton and Missri’s flowing solos, epitomized by the Jerry-esque joyride of “Jamasutra Mantra.” Like the early Allman Brothers Band and Steve Hunter-Dick Wagner with Lou Reed, Melton and Missri create intriguing two-guitar interplay without venturing into overkill. They freak-out Hendrix-style on “Vert,” and Barry resurrects his wicked vibrato of yore for “Le Dernier Homme en Ville.” His sea shanty-cum-ecological call to arms “Shady Grove” recalls his Country Joe & The Fish era and then segues into one of the album’s best jams.
International feels abound. Algerian-born Missri sings mostly in French, with a smooth, smoky voice. Rhythms and melodies seamlessly embrace rock, blues, psychedelic, Middle Eastern, and African influences. “This was truly a trans-Atlantic effort for me,” says Melton, who’s worked as a public defender in northern California. “Much of my early music was influenced by Middle Eastern music, which becomes immediately apparent were you to see me with Country Joe in the 1967 movie Monterey Pop.” Danish bassist Charles Jannic and French drummer Christophe Rossi excel at everything – hats off to these guys, as well as to Melton and Missri for their fine, fine playing and producing. Order this Seafood Records release at www.barrymelton.com and www.jamasutra.com.