Live at Newport features a dozen songs from Phil Ochs' performances at the 1963, 1964, and 1966 Newport Folk Festival. Four of these cuts were previously available on the Newport Broadside 1963 and Evening Concerts, Vol. 1 anthologies, but the rest were previously unreleased. While all of these songs are available on his studio albums, Ochs was in good form for these shows, so these are good supplementary versions. Especially noteworthy are the 1966 tracks; four of the five songs would appear in far more elaborately produced arrangements on his Pleasures of the Harbor and Tape from California albums. These solo acoustic performances are interesting contrasts, putting the voice and the lyrics at the forefront, in the best unplugged tradition. Ochs' singing on "Cross My Heart" is painfully flat, but the sincerity of the words and their importance to him carry the performance. Additionally, the version of "Half a Century High" (sung as "Half a Century Wise") included here runs over seven minutes, and contains several verses that never made it into the official studio recording of this song. The differences point to the tragic side of Ochs' career, in that he sacrificed chunks of his message and his art, and one of his best and most personal songs, in pursuit of commercial success and stardom.
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AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger
feat: Peter Yarrow