Phil Ochs

The Early Years

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This is actually an expanded version of the Vanguard CD Live at Newport, although it isn't billed as such. It includes all 13 songs from that album, prefacing them with seven studio tracks that Ochs did for the 1964 Vanguard compilation LP The Original New Folks, Vol. 2. Even if you think you own everything by Ochs, you'll need this if you're a completist, because only five of those Vanguard studio tracks actually made it onto The Original New Folks, Vol. 2. The other two, "How Long" and "Davey Moore," were recorded at the same sessions, but were previously unreleased. Although these seven studio cuts still find Ochs a ways from hitting his mid-1960s peak, they're worth hearing as good, if sometimes didactic, topical/protest tunes. The version of "There But for Fortune," one of his most famous compositions, has much more of a hasty troubadour gallop than the more renowned take on Phil Ochs in Concert. In addition, the songs "Talking Airplane Disaster," "How Long," and "Davey Moore" (yes, about the same fatal boxing incident that inspired the similarly obscure Bob Dylan song "Who Killed Davey Moore?") are not available in any other versions. The live material was taken from Ochs' performances at the 1963, 1964, and 1966 Newport Folk Festivals. While all of the tunes are available in studio versions, these are worthwhile supplements, particularly the five 1966 songs, as four of them 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.

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