The Phil Ochs Album By Album Thread

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by JamieC, Jun 21, 2014.

  1. JamieC

    JamieC Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Detroit Mi USA
    From Wiki
    Philip David
    "Phil" Ochs (December 19, 1940 – April 9, 1976) was an American protest singer (or, as he preferred, a topical singer) and songwriter who was known for his sharp wit, sardonic humor, earnest humanism, political activism, insightful and alliterative lyrics, and distinctive voice. He wrote hundreds of songs in the 1960s and '70s and released eight albums.
    Ochs performed at many political events during the 1960s counterculture era, including anti-Vietnam War and civil rights rallies, student events, and organized labor events over the course of his career, in addition to many concert appearances at such venues as New York City's Town Hall and Carnegie Hall. Politically, Ochs described himself as a "left social democrat" who became an "early revolutionary" after the protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago led to a police riot, which had a profound effect on his state of mind.
    After years of prolific writing in the 1960s, Ochs's mental stability declined in the 1970s. He eventually succumbed to a number of problems including bipolar disorder and alcoholism, and took his own life in 1976.
    Some of Ochs's major musical influences were Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, Bob Gibson, Faron Young, and Merle Haggard. His best-known songs include "I Ain't Marching Anymore", "Changes", "Crucifixion", "Draft Dodger Rag", "Love Me, I'm a Liberal", "Outside of a Small Circle of Friends", "Power and the Glory", "There but for Fortune", and "The War Is Over".
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  2. JamieC

    JamieC Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Detroit Mi USA
    ALL The News That's Fit To Sing
    From Wiki

    All The News That's Fit to Sing was Phil Ochs' first official album. Recorded in 1964 for Elektra Records, it was full of many elements that would come back throughout his career. It was the album that defined his "singing journalist" phase, strewn with songs whose roots were allegedly pulled from Newsweek magazine. It is one in a long line of folk albums used to tell stories about everyday struggles and hardships.
    Among these stories was that of William Worthy, an American journalist who traveled to Cuba in spite of an embargo on the country who was forbidden to return to the United States. Civil rights figures Medgar Evers and Emmett Till were lionized in "Too Many Martyrs" (alternatively known as "The Ballad of Medgar Evers".) Two "talking blues" using the melody to the old folk song "John Hardy" jabbed sarcastic at Vietnam and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Even a poem by Edgar Allan Poe, "The Bells", was set to music. "The Thresher" was an ode to the sinking of the nuclear-powered American submarine, the USS Thresher: "And she'll always run silent/And she'll always run deep." Also included was one of Ochs' most well-known songs, "Power and the Glory".
    The title references the motto of The New York Times, "All the news that's fit to print." The Times was founded by Adolph Ochs (no relation to Phil), so this may be a joke or allusion to the coincidence.

    Track listing
    All songs by Phil Ochs unless otherwise noted.
    1. "One More Parade" (P. Ochs, B. Gibson) – 3:00
    2. "The Thresher" – 2:50
    3. "Talkin' Vietnam" – 3:38
    4. "Lou Marsh" – 4:04
    5. "Power and the Glory" – 2:15
    6. "Celia" – 3:08
    7. "The Bells" (E. A. Poe, with musical adaptation by P. Ochs) – 3:00
    8. "Automation Song" – 2:08
    9. "Ballad of William Worthy" – 2:15
    10. "Knock on the Door" – 2:47
    11. "Talkin' Cuban Crisis" – 2:40
    12. "Bound for Glory" – 3:15
    13. "Too Many Martyrs" (Ochs, Gibson) – 2:46
    14. "What's That I Hear" – 2:00
    15. "Bullets of Mexico" – 2:34 - bonus track on CD
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  3. R. Totale

    R. Totale The Voice of Reason

    Straightforward and earnest, with quite a few great songs including "Parade", "Power", "Bells", "Bound" and "Martyrs". Some of the more topical stuff hasn't aged well. I actually haven't played the record in years, but could sing any of the songs I just listed from memory.
  4. wayne66

    wayne66 Forum Resident

    Phil Ochs fought the good fight and is one of my favorite songwriters ever. The topical songs do not bother me at all since I have a history degree, I enjoy getting the history lesson. Ochs was ahead of most with Talking Vietnam before most people were even aware of American involvement in Vietnam. Too Many Martyrs was about the assassination of Medger Evers. Bound For Glory was about Woody Guthrie. The Power and the Glory is one of his greatest early songs. Great album and artist.
  5. Javed Jafri

    Javed Jafri Forum Resident

    My fave song by him is Tape from California.
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  6. Mr. H

    Mr. H Forum Resident

    I love Phil Ochs. Favorites from this one are Power and Glory and Bound for Glory, with a nod to the Bells and to Too Many Martyrs and What's That I Hear Now for the latter two's strong melodies. Phil was really belting these songs out on this one.

    I agree that the topical material hasn't aged too well, so I don't spin this one too often, but it is certainly a great album of topical 60's folk songs and it certainly set the tone for much of what was to come from Phil.

    In my opinion one of the more interesting artists of the last 60 years and I recommend seeking out Chris Cutler's essay on Phil Ochs for an interesting perspective.
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  7. Hey Vinyl Man

    Hey Vinyl Man Forum Resident

    "Power and the Glory" was the first Ochs song I ever heard, but it wasn't his version. I heard Fred Small sing it live, as his concert-opener, and then he made a point of telling the audience who'd written it. From that day on, I was a fan.
    I think his catalog gets a lot stronger later on, but there are some gems on All the News..., "Bound for Glory" for one, one of the best one-musician-to-another tributes I've ever heard. I always liked "The Bells," too, if only because I remember having to memorize the poem in high school - that would have been a lot easier if I'd known of his arrangement back then!
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  8. wayne66

    wayne66 Forum Resident

    I agree that his albums do get better after this one. Still I forgot to add that I like his version of the Edger Allan Poe poem The Bells. Also Celia is an underrated gem that does not get mentioned as much. Hopefully we will do his other albums besides the official albums. A Toast to Those Who Are Gone is almost as good as the first album. Also live albums like the Vancouver show from 1969 are my favorite ways of hearing some of these later songs he did.
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  9. maushauss

    maushauss Well-Known Member

    Ohio, USA
    I'm a big fan of Ochs, and this album is one of my favorites- I especially like "Bound for Glory" and "Ballad of William Worthy". I first heard of him shortly after he died, unfortunately, on a 1976 or 1977 radio retrospective of his career. Thanks for starting this thread
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  10. SteveCooks

    SteveCooks Forum Resident

    Thank you for starting this thread. I tried to get the Lps but they were so rare in France so I gave up, I just have Greatest Hits that I really love and a a comp "the war is over"... A bit short.

    I just remember Van Dyke Parks answering a journalist that his two favourite productions by him was the Esso Trinidad Tripoli Steelband and "Greatest Hits" by Phil OCHS. Do you see a link ? If you buy the Esso Trnidad cd +dvd, you'll understand that this band was pulled back from unknowness by Van Dyke Parks who allows them to tour in the US.

    By knowing that GH is PO's last LP (if you exclude Gunfight which is a live LP) you can wonder about it... I'd like to know more about the story. But maybe we should wait for this one, sorry. Too glad seeing a thread like this one starting !
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  11. Hey Vinyl Man

    Hey Vinyl Man Forum Resident

    The readers' digest version is that he suffered from severe writers' block and depression in those years, and also lost several notes of his singing voice in an attack in Tanzania in 1973. He had a serious drinking problem and some pretty serious mental issues toward the end. He was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and was prescribed medication but it's not clear that he took it. His friend and fellow folksinger, Tom Paxton, has been known to say, at least quasi-jokingly, if Ochs had survived to see Reagan elected president (four years after he hanged himself), it would have revived his creativity. I doubt that, but heaven knows America could have used his voice in those years!
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  12. Rfreeman

    Rfreeman Forum Resident

    Lawrenceville, NJ
    Just played the song The Power & The Glory on acoustic guitar for folks at a Solstice Picnic at a local nature center this weekend. Never heard the original and came up with my own guitar part as I knew the tune only as an acapella singalong from summer camp, where we raised the flag while singing it each morning.

    As my Ochs knowledge is limited to that tune, Draft Dodger Rag and Small Circle of Friends - all of which were regularly sung at that camp I attended - I will be more reading and learning than contibuting here.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2014
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  13. johnlightning

    johnlightning Forum Resident

    Back in the day, I found his songs more moving and important to me than those of Bobby D. He is perhaps my favorite 'folkie' of his era. His catalog is relatively deep , full of exceptional lyrics and melodies.

    Heck I even love the 'Live Carnegie Hall' LP... could only find it on a Canadian import upon it's release (Now have it on a gold CD).

    An important artist of considerable passion, who loved his country enough to call it out in song every time it's leaders and their policies disappointed him. One of the greats I say! Think I'll spin 'Rehearsals for Retirement' today. Thanks for the thread reminding people of his genius.

    Oh, BTW, the bio 'There But For Fortune' is a good read. And yes, 'Power & Glory' still stands as a classic, as meaningful today as ever.
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  14. elaterium

    elaterium Forum Resident

    I prefer his more poetic work. For me nothing tops Pleasure of the Harbor. But I do own all his albums. The film that came out a few years back is well worth seeing.
  15. JamieC

    JamieC Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Detroit Mi USA
    A warning. I will talk extensively about Phil and his albums. Did I know him? No. Never had a chance to ever see him. But he was as important to me as the Beatles, and I am not exaggerating. When I was old enough to have a job Phil's albums were the first thing I started buying up. I started learning history from Phil, although they might have been topical when Phil wrote them. I was proud of my Phil collection. I even had Rehearsals For Retirement which I bought at a shop in Windsor when I was 19. The shop owner had it under the counter, about to return it. SCORE!
    One morning I got up and Mom slid the paper across the table. Phil was dead. He hung himself. My head hit the table and I started sobbing with a sorrow I would not feel again until we lost Lennon.

    Several years later I took up playing the guitar and presented myself as a labor and folksinger. I met SO many people who are well known folk singers, many who knew Phil. I met Sonny Ochs in Philly, I met Danny Kalb in San Francisco, and of course Pete Seeger. Then I visited the In Laws.
    Mom and Dad lived in Bradenton/Sarasota, Fl and I had 2 weeks off from work. Two weeks with the In Laws. Great. I was going to be bored. I took my guitar with me to practice on the porch and maybe find an open mike night. Mom wanted to take us out to this big flea market, which was cool to me. I was now in record hunting mode. I spotted a table full of old acoustic instruments nicely reconditioned. I struck up a conversation with him hoping to find an open mike. He listened to a couple of my songs and scribbled down some directions, saying be here tonight "You'll be among friends". I went. dozens of acoustic players playing in clusters all over the property. Folk Nirvana. I had stumbled into the monthly meeting of Friends Of Florida Folk.
    That's how I first met and played with Jim Glover. I've called him a friend for almost 30 years now. I once walked into a jam and the host introduces me(like a schmuck) as an expert on Phil Ochs. Glover nodded his head. He is sometimes astonished that I never met Phil.

    Anyways, as well as the regular album releases we will look at some odd releases along the way, avoiding compilations of nothing new or different.
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  16. Mr. H

    Mr. H Forum Resident

    His masterpiece IMO.
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  17. JamieC

    JamieC Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Detroit Mi USA
    For those who do not know, Jim Glover was Phil's roommate at Ohio State, was pretty much responsible for Phil's shift to the left from a military brat, military school grad. He bet his guitar with Phil that Nixon would win against Kennedy. That's how Phil got his first guitar, and Jim taught him how to play. He heard the first songs. They formed a group called the Sundowners, after the Robert Mitchum movie. When Phil showed up in New York he crashed for nearly a year in the apartment of Jim and his wife Jean Ray(Jim and Jean/ Verve-Folkways).

    I love Jim. We can talk and talk for hours. And Jim is great to play with. RIP Jean

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  18. JamieC

    JamieC Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Detroit Mi USA
    Phil was writing dozens of new songs for he and Jim to perform. Phil was absolutely driven. Glover was not. Phil handed Jim a bunch of new songs to learn before their gig the next night. Glover went to sleep. Phil woke him up the next morning to try out the new stuff, and Glover had not even looked at it. Phil blew up and ended the Sundowners. He tried to do the gig alone and got fired.
    Jim Glover left Ohio State and headed to New York. A few months later Phil had a dust up with the college over his work on The Lantern(the OSU campus paper) as well as a newsletter, over the Cuban situation. He soon followed Glover to New York's Village.

    His plans were to become a star. Seriously. He met all the famous players on the scene, including Dylan. He played for a hat pass and got a few bucks here and there. The only one who could keep up with Phil for sheer volume of material was Dylan.

    Phil, through his connections with Broadside joined the Broadside Singers for an album on Folkways, then was part of a Vanguard project called New Folks(there is one more we will talk about shortly).

    Phil was now out for a record contract. It boiled down to Maynard Soloman's Vanguard or Jac Holtzman's Elektra. Phil was convinced Elektra was his best choice. Phil signed and immediately started assembling his first album.
    Holtzman produced and the first thing he did was to bring in Danny Kalb from the Blues Project as second guitar. Phil was a passionate singer, but changed tempos constantly for effect. Kalb made Phil keep in time and made his simple rhythm playing prettier.

    Phil called himself "The Singing Journalist" and the songs are set as a sort of musical newspaper.

    Highlights include:
    Lou Marsh- The story of a street preacher who attempted to stop a gang fight and was murdered.
    Celia- the longing for a wife who is a political prisoner. Among his most beautiful ballads.
    The Bells- Poe would have been proud. Phil nailed it.
    William Worthy- Reporter Worthy went to Cuba to report despite the state department edict that Cuba was off limits. Their response was to refuse him re-entry to the US. As this song was written his case was winding through the courts, eventually being decided by the Supreme Court. It was not illegal to come home.
    Bound For Glory- A brilliant ode to Woody Guthrie, whom Phil visited in the hospital.
    Too Many Martyrs- An elegy to Medger Evers and all who stood up to Jim Crow only to fall.
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  19. John DeAngelis

    John DeAngelis Forum Resident

    New York, NY
    Same here. I've got all Phil's albums, and Pleasure is my favorite.
    BTW, I first heard of Phil when 16 magazine ran a photo of him and printed the lyrics of "Changes."
    A few weeks later, I saw Phil sing "Miranda" on the Upbeat television show. I went out that night and what was then his latest lp, Phil Ochs In Concert. I was hooked!
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  20. goombay

    goombay Forum Resident

    the only Phil Ochs album i can listen to is Tape From California.
  21. JamieC

    JamieC Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Detroit Mi USA
    Oddly, Tape is the hardest one for me to listen to. Other than Joe Hill, between the arrangements and the songs Phil seemed like he was trying too hard to outdo Dylan. But I will say more about that later.
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  22. JamieC

    JamieC Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Detroit Mi USA
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  23. JamieC

    JamieC Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Detroit Mi USA
  24. JamieC

    JamieC Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Detroit Mi USA
  25. JamieC

    JamieC Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Detroit Mi USA
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