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Broadside Ballads, Vol. 11: Phil Ochs Interview

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Album Review

In the liner notes to this album, the editors of Broadside magazine make a point of saying that Phil Ochs turned over to them a tape of a benefit concert he had performed for Broadside with the suggestion that they issue it as an album through their association with Folkways Records and, when they pointed out that it wasn't long enough for a full LP, said they should fill out the disc with other tapes of him in their possession. This offers some justification for the release of a collection of live recordings that range from fair to poor in sound quality. Ochs' lyrics are always discernible, and his stage remarks usually so, but several of the tracks are well below professional standard. That said, fans will want to hear the album, since it provides live versions of songs from Ochs' A&M studio LPs, such as "Pleasures of the Harbor," "Crucifixion," and "Small Circle of Friends," as well as previously unreleased songs like "United Fruit." The lower quality tracks seem to be the ones from the concert to which the Broadside editors refer, since on occasion, Ochs makes lyrical changes that suggest he is reacting to the Chilean coup of 1973. For instance, in "Santo Domingo," a song about the 1965 U.S. invasion of the Dominican Republic, at one point he sings "Santiago" instead of "Santo Domingo." And he adds a whole new verse to "Small Circle of Friends" that appears to refer to the coup. This album is not on a par with Ochs' more professionally recorded live LP Phil Ochs in Concert, but it will be of interest to those already devoted to the singer.


Born: 19 December 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 definable dedication to the causes seemingly...
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