Phil Ochs

Phil Ochs in Concert

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During much of the career of this great performer, this so-called live album was the only recording that supposedly represented Phil Ochs as he was heard in concert -- in other words, solo. While his major studio albums concentrated on orchestral productions, sometimes bordering on unlistenable pretension or slightly uncomfortable band tracks, his live performances inevitably consisted of just one man with his voice and guitar, at least until his ill-fated rock & roll venture near the end of his popularity. Posthumous releases such as There and Now: Live in Vancouver 1968 have managed to set the discography straight, so that listeners can really hear this man's musical art at its strongest by enjoying a recording of a full concert. The short Phil Ochs in Concert album doesn't quite make it. After all, the production of live albums inevitably resulted in inferior products during the '60s, even in the case of great live performers such as the Rolling Stones. To make matters worse, the scuttlebutt on this project is that these aren't live recordings at all, but studio performances augmented with canned applause. If so, the fake is fairly well done, and Ochs alone with a guitar in the studio is certainly effective. Several of the performances here were the initial experiences of some of his classic songs for listeners, including the remarkable "When I'm Gone," the tough "Canons of Christianity," and the prophetic "Cops of the World." "There But for Fortune," one of this artist's most famous songs, is also here, as is "Changes," a lovely ballad that was one of the first glimpses into the non-political part of this man's soul.

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