Phil Ochs

Band members                             Related acts

- Phil Ochs (RIP 1976) -- vocals, guitar


  supporting musicians (1975)

- Bob Rafkin -- guitar, backing vocals

- Kenny Kaufman -- bass, backing vocals
- Kevin Kelley -- drums
- Lincoln Mayorga -- piano




The Broadside Singers

- The Campers




Genre: folk

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  I Ain't Marching Any More

Company: Elektra

Catalog: EKL-287 (mono); EKS-7287

Year: 1965

Country/State: El Paso, Texas

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG

Comments: 'RAVA' in black magic marker on the flip side; mono pressing

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 

Price: $20.00



Normally I'm not a big fan of folks advocating a strident political or social agenda.  That said, 1965's "I Ain't Marching Anymore" is one of those rare exceptions.  Phil Ochs second release for Elektra, the album may sound somewhat dated, but stands as one of the better Dylan-influenced anti-war releases.  Like the debut, tracks like 'In the Heat of the Summer', ''That was the President and 'Here’s to the State of Mississippi' retained a clear activist streak, but Ochs showed marked creative growth and confidence throughout. While nothing here was likely to get you up on a dance floor, these acoustics numbers (normally just Ochs and guitar)  proved surprisingly melodic with 'Iron Lady' and '' generating considerable energy.  Ochs also differed from many of his contemporaries in that he wasn't above taking pot shots at his liberal contemporaries and it's institutions ('Links on the Chain').  'Draft Dodger Rag' was a searing commentary on America's privileged classes.  The ability to occasional display a sense of humor made a big difference ...  Elsewhere Elektra tapped 'I Ain’t Marching Anymore' b/w 'That was the President' (Elektra catalog number ???) as a single.  Though it never got within a mile of radio airplay, it was one of the first anti-war 45s to get widespread public exposure and a stream of criticism from conservatives.  The album wasn't perfect.  Ochs originals like 'The Highwayman' (okay it was an adaptation of an Alfred Noyes poem) were simply ponderous, while 'The Hills of West Virginia' and 'The Man Behind the Guns' were boring and self-righteous.     


In case anyone's curious, here's a link to a YouTube performance of 'I AIn't Marching Anymore':


"I'm Not Marching Any More" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) I Ain’t Marching Anymore  (Phil Ochs) - 2:32

2.) In the Heat of the Summer  (Phil Ochs) - 3:01

3.) Draft Dodger Rag  (Phil Ochs) - 2:07

4.) That’s What I Want to Hear  (Phil Ochs) - 3:06

5.) That was the President  (Phil Ochs) - 3:20

6.) Iron Lady  (Phil Ochs) - 3:30

7.) The Highwayman  (Alfred Noyes - Phil Ochs) - 5:36


(side 2)

1.) Links on the Chain  (Phil Ochs) - 4:18

2.) The Hills of West Virginia  (Phil Ochs) - 3:21

3.) The Man Behind the Guns  (John Rooney - Phil Ochs) - 3:00

4.) Talking Birmingham Jam  (Phil Ochs) - 3:08

5.) The Ballad of the Carpenter   (Ewan MacColl) - 3:50

6.) Days of Decision  (Phil Ochs) - 3:12

7.) Here’s to the State of Mississippi  (Phil Ochs) - 5:52




Genre: folk

Rating: ** (2 stars)

Title:  Phil Ochs In Concert

Company: Elektra

Catalog: EKL-310

Year: 1966

Country/State: El Paso, Texas

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG

Comments: minor staining on white parts of cover; small cut out hole top right corner; mono pressing

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4398

Price: $10.00



Looking at the album title most of you have probably already figured out that this is a live set.  Co-produced by Mark Abramson and Jac Holzman, the cleverly titled "Phil Ochs In Concert" captured eleven previously unreleased tracks that were supposedly recorded during a series of 1965 - 1966 concerts in Boston and New York City.  I say supposedly because the set's been dogged by rumors that these were actually studio recordings that were subsequently overdubbed with audience applause.  I have no idea what the true story is, though the quality of Och's performances were so good you had to wonder if they were indeed live.  For a set that's just Ochs and his guitar, highly politicized material such as 'I'm Afraid To Say It Now', 'Is There Anyone Here? ' and 'Canons of Christianity' was surprisingly impressive.  Och's voice was in fine shape - and in spite of the political and social platitudes it's easy to forget what a sweet and commercial tenor he owned, though spread over two sides, the anti-US rhetoric started to get boring.  On the other hand, for a guy who billed himself as a leftist journalist (didn't Bob Dylan kick his ass once?), Ochs was surprisingly funny - check out his between songs stage patter ('Ringing of Revolution') to say nothing of having the balls to write and perform a song entitled 'Love Me, I'm a Liberal'.  As is so often the case, in the wake of Ochs passing, listening to the set is a weird experience; especially on a song as prophetic 'When I'm Gone'. 


"Phil Ochs In Concert" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) I'm Afraid To Say It Now   (Phil Ochs)  - 2:46

2.) Bracero  (Phil Ochs) - 3:57

3.) Ringing of Revolution   (Phil Ochs)- 5:30

4.) Is There Anyone Here?   (Phil Ochs)- 3:17

5.) Canons of Christianity  (Phil Ochs) - 4:23


(side 2)

1.) There But for Fortune  (Phil Ochs) - 2:35

2.) Cops of the World  (Phil Ochs) - 4:45

3.) Santo Domingo  (Phil Ochs) - 3:48

4.) Changes  (Phil Ochs) - 4:30

5.) Love Me, I'm a Liberal  (Phil Ochs) - 3:46

6.) When I'm Gone  (Phil Ochs) - 3:51





Genre: folk-rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Pleasures of the Harbor

Company: A&M

Catalog: SP-4133

Year: 1967

Country/State: El Paso, Texas

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG

Comments: minor ring wear

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5204

Price: $25.00

Cost: $66.00


Released by A&M Records, 1967's "Pleasures of the Harbor" found Phil Ochs ending his three year/three album relationship with Jac Holzman and Elektra Records.  The album also marked a major departure from Ochs earlier folkie catalog.  Produced by Larry Marks, tracks such as 'Flower Lady', the bizarre upbeat Kitty Genovese inspired 'Outside of a Small Circle of Friends' and the lounge act-ish 'The Party' underscored Ochs distinctive personal, social and political visions, but largely abandoned his earlier barebones acoustic settings in favor of heavily orchestrated arrangements.  Clearly inspired by Dylan's move to an electric sound and other fundamental changes in popular music, the results were at best mixed.  On tracks like 'Cross My Heart' and the title track Ian Freebairn-Smith's string and keyboard arrangements frequently threatened to drown out Ochs' fragile vocals.  With four of the eight tracks clocking in at over seven minutes Ochs also managed to cram a lot of verbiage into his songs - 'Flower Lady' sports at least seven versus.  Longwinded ('I've Head Her' seems never ending) and occasionally sophomoric some of the tracks simply haven't aged too well.  Still there was no doubt that the album served as Ochs most varied and impressive effort.  Standout tracks included his jarring electronic eulogy to John F. Kennedy ('The Crucifixion') and the surprisingly catchy Dixieland flavored 'Miranda'.   Elsewhere A&M tapped the album for two quickly forgotten singles:


- 1967's 'Flower Lady' b/w 'Cross My Heart' (A&M catalog number 881)

- 1967's 'Outside of a Small Circle of Friends' b/w 'Miranda' (A&M catalog number 891)


Sporting a lyric that included the phrase 'smoking marijuana is more fun than drinking beer' it shouldn't have come as a major surprise to A&M executives when the second 45 was banned by virtually every radio station in the country.


(Since he recorded the album in Los Angeles, I've always wondered about the winter gear cover photo ...) 


"Pleasures of the Harbor" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Cross My Heart   (Phil Ochs) - 3:23

2.) Flower Lady   (Phil Ochs) - 6:06

3.) Outside of a Small Circle of Friends   (Phil Ochs) - 3:37

4.) I've Had Her   (Phil Ochs) - 8:03

5.) Miranda   (Phil Ochs) - 5:17


(side 2)

1.) The Party   (Phil Ochs) - 7:57

2.) Pleasures of the Harbor   (Phil Ochs) - 8:05

3.) The Crucifixion   (Phil Ochs) - 8:45


Sadly Ochs was only 36 when he hung himself in April of 1976.



Genre: folk-rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Gunfight at Carnegie Hall

Company: A&M

Catalog: SP-9010

Year: 1975

Country/State: El Paso, Texas

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor ring wear

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 353

Price: $40.00


So the story behind 1975's "Gunfight At Carnegie Hall" is far better than the album itself - if you didn't know better, you'd be hard pressed to believe it was true.  These tracks were recorded at the first of two March 1971 Carnegie Hall concerts - the concert that were documented on his earlier "Phil Ochs' Greatest Hits" album.  Much to the dismay of his long-time fan base, Ochs used the Carnegie Hall concerts to basically kill off his folk-singer identity, appearing on-stage in a gold lame suit and working his way through an eclectic mixture of material that included a host of covers (Elvis Presley, Merle Haggard, Buddy Holly) and some drastically rearranged originals.  Not only were fans taken aback by the material, but the first of two concerts came to an abrupt halt after 90 minutes when someone phoned in a bomb threat forcing Carnegie Hall management to evacuate the building.  And here's where it really starts to turn crazy.  Confronted by some very upset fans who felt they'd been ripped-off by the abbreviated performance, Ochs promised to get them tickets to the second show scheduled for later in the evening.  True to his word, Ochs went to the Carnegie Hall box office, only to discover it was closed.  Ochs decided to take matters into his own hands and broke into the box office, in the process managing to cut the tendon in his thumb.  Needless to say, management wasn't all that thrilled.   It got even worse.   The second show didn't start until midnight and trying to make up for the earlier problems, Ochs played an extended set that finally came to an end at three the next morning when building management cut off power to the stage. Infuriated, Ochs coaxed the audience into a "we want power" chant that continued until the power was restored.  The entire fiasco managed to get Ochs banned from Carnegie Hall.  And that wasn't the end of the story.  Ochs originally wanted A&M to release an extended live version of the concerts.  The company refused, putting the tapes on the shelf where the sat for four years.  Finally A&M  released some of the material in 1975, but for some odd reason, the album only saw a Canadian issue.  Needless to say, the cover heavy album could not possibly compete with the background story.   


All of the material on "Gunfight at Carnegie Hall" reflected songs recorded at the first, abbreviated concert.  I'm guessing the album reflected one of those you-had-to-be-there events, since the overall album was pretty pedestrian, if not occasionally bland.  Ochs himself sounded good given the album was recorded without an opportunity for a sound check (the sound people showed up three hours late).  A strong backing band (particularly guitarist Bob Rafkin) certainly helped the proceedings.  Unfortunately, the overwhelming amount of cover material didn't do anyone a favor.  The extended Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley medleys were competent, but hardly inspirational.  That was also true of the other covers.   In contrast the Ochs original material came off very strong.   'I Ain't Marching Anymore' wasn't much different than the earlier studio version, but 'Pleasures Of The Harbor ' and 'Tape From California' sounded great in their updated arrangements.  Add to that the Larry Hall cover art was classic ...


(side 1)

1.) Mona Lisa   (Ray Evans - Jay Livingston) – 3:49

Reframing 'Mona Lisa' as a speeded-ip Buddy Holly-styled rockabilly tune was certainly unusual.  The performance wasn't bad ...   just really strange.  Kudos to guitarist Bob Rafkin for turning in a classic solo on the track.  rating: ** stars  
2.) I Ain't Marching Anymore  (Phil Ochs) – 4:23

One of Ochs' best known songs, 'I Ain't Marching Anymore' faired well with Ochs sticking with the original song structure (just Ochs on acoustic guitar).   Yeah, the lyrics sound hopelessly dated in this day and age, but you can't argue with the anti-war sentiments.   The audience suggestion he strip out of the gold lame suit was actually pretty funny.   rating: *** stars
3.) Okie From Muskogee   (Roy Burris - Merle Haggard) – 2:49

Hum, not sure I'm all that thrilled with the conservative bashing that introduced the song - equating Merle Haggard with William Buckley and company ???   Seriously.   At least he acknowledge Haggard was an extremely talented writer.   Nice enough cover of one of Haggard's biggest hits.  Wonder if Haggard knew how Ochs was; let along gave a fart about Ochs' slam.   rating: *** stars
4.) Chords of Fame   (Phil Ochs) – 4:49

Another Ochs original, 'Chords of Fame' was given a surprisingly impressive folk-rock arrangement.   Quite catchy.   rating: *** stars
5.) Buddy Holly Medley  (Charles Hardin - Norman Petty - Joe B. Maudlin - N. Sullivan - Sonny West -

     Bill Tilghman - Jerry Allison) – 7:18

     i.) Not Fade Away

     ii.) I'm Gonna Love You Too 

     iii.) Think It Over 

     iv.) Oh, Boy! 

     v.) Everyday

     vi.)  It's So Easy 

     vii.) Not Fade Away

As Ochs mentioned during his stage patter, he was a big Buddy Holly fan  and it showed on this extended medley of Holly tunes.   Best of the group, the opener 'Not Fade Away', followed by a charming 'Everyday'.   Did that mean it was essential listening ?  Nope.  Not by a mile.     rating: ** stars


(side 2)
1.) Pleasures Of The Harbor  (Phil Ochs) – 5:59

Kicked along by Lincoln Mayorga's piano, the live version of 'Pleasures of the Harbor' was exceptionally pretty.  One of the album highlights.   An equally impressive segment came before the song satrted where you heard Ochs confronting a clearly unhappy audience ...  brave guy taking them on like that. rating: **** stars
2.) Tape From California  (Phil Ochs) – 5:09

Powered by a great Ochs vocal and Rafkin's slashing guitar work I think I actually like the live version of 'Tape from California' better than the original studio take.  Great song to convince folks that Ochs could do more than protest folk.   rating: **** stars
3.) Elvis Medley  (Arthur Crudup -  R. Maralasco - Robert Blackwell - Jerry Leiber - Mike Stoller - Otis Blackwell - Roy Turk - Lou Handman) – 10:12

      i.) My Baby Left Me 

      ii.) Ready Teddy 

      iii.) Heartbreak Hotel 

      iv.) All Shook Up 

      v.) Are You Lonesome Tonight? 

      vi.) My Baby Left Me

The best part of of the Elvis medley came afterwards when Ochs was confronted with Carnegie Hall management turning off the stage power ...  "we want power, we want power, we want power ..."   rating: ** stars

4.) A Fool Such As I -  (Bill Trader) – 2:00

Boring cover of the Hank Snow country classic ...   rating: ** stars