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Phil Ochs In Concert

Phil Ochs

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Customer Reviews

The "Album Review" with this album isn't entirely fair

This review is a response to the album review for Phil Ochs in Concert on iTunes. Yes, Ochs did re-record performances for this record. However, the comments about canned applause are dubious (and probably not the reviewer's fault: Ochs's first biographer, Marc Eliot makes a similar claim without citing his source or speaking of audio evidence on the recording itself). In fact, if you listen closely, it's possible to hear edits very close to the end of most tracks. This is the point at which it seems the tail-end of Ochs's voice and guitar from the actual live performances was tacked on to the re-recordings he made in a hall with slightly different acoustics from the ones he performed in (hence a difference in audio ambiance and Ochs's voice). The iTunes review is remiss in not mentioning the reason for the re-recordings. Ochs, a nervous guy by nature, was suffering laryngitis as Elektra struggled to capture what he could do live for his next LP. Indeed, Ochs's laryngitis points to another audio fact that seems to put the lie to the notion that the audience responses are simply faked: Ochs is audibly hoarse on the spoken introduction before "Love Me, I'm a Liberal" (during which one hears what seem to be authentic audience responses), yet his singing voice is perfect on the track itself, not even a bit hoarse. Furthermore, listeners should also consider the possibility that Ochs may have let perfectionism get the better of him: you can hear an edit at the end of "Bracero," if you listen closely, and judging from the several-second snippet of the real live performance, it sounds as if Ochs's voice had been strong during the live performance. He may have been misguidedly aiming for perfection when it became clear that it would be necessary to do re-recording for the LP. It's a fact that he punched in most of his vocals line-by-line on his Pleasures of the Harbor LP (Producer Larry Marks is the source of that fact), so there is indeed evidence of perfectionism elsewhere in his recorded output. It's unfortunate that accurate information about how much (if any) of the audience response was enhanced in the studio, and it is unclear whether the original live master tapes are extant. It's also unfortunate the writer of the liner notes of the CD release of the album was unaware that Ochs had re-recorded the songs for Phil Ochs in concert. If the original live masters have survived, Ochs's importance as a songwriter and performer of the 60s Greenwich Village scene would seem to demand some kind of deluxe re-release of the album with his hoarser vocals (which are unlikely to be as bad as Ochs believed) along with the re-recordings. However, the cult of Bob Dylan has cast a dark and nigh-impenatrable shadow over other performers on that scene, so Phil Ochs enthusiasts shouldn't hold their breath for such a release. It's a pity.

Biography

Born: December 19, 1940 in El Paso, TX

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '60s, '70s

Phil Ochs is a figure both glorious and tragic who haunts the history of the 1960s folk revival and its aftermath. A topical singer and songwriter in the manner of Lee Hays, Pete Seeger, and Woody Guthrie from the previous generation, he was forever in the shadow of Bob Dylan in terms of the recognition for his music; but unlike Dylan — who, in retrospect, seemed to approach his work with overpowering facility and talent, but only occasional moments of...
Full bio

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