Archive for April, 2011

Otis Redding “Otis Blue”

In 1965,  Otis Redding recorded and released his third studio album, Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul on the legendary Stax label’s subsidiary Volt Records.  The album is considered by fans and critics alike to be Otis’ masterpiece.  To me, it just may be the ultimate masterpiece of soul music, period.

The album begins with “Ole Man Trouble,” a cry of desperation of a man who has had one too many demons on his trail.  In classic Otis Redding-style, this is a damn powerful and convincing song.  He is begging for some peace and contentment in his life.  In my opinion, this is one of the greatest opening tracks of any album of any genre.

The album continues with the original version of “Respect,” one of Otis’ own compositions.  For those of you who are only familiar with Aretha Franklin’s rendition, you’ll be in for a bit of a surprise (yes, it is quite different).  Otis Redding’s original rendition of the classic tune takes on a life of its own, and is an all-out soul stomper.  Definitely a track worthy of cranking at maximum volume.

The album just keeps getting more and more fantastic as it goes on.  Track three:  Sam Cooke’s immortal “A Change Is Gonna Come.”  Now, as much as I truly love Sam’s original version, nothing beats Otis’ version.  The power in this man’s voice as he sang this song is unbelievable.  This song, a classic Civil Rights anthem,  always reduces me to tears.  Otis, who was a huge Sam Cooke fan, covers two more of his compositions: “Shake,” which is a great soul dancer, and the playful and tender “Wonderful World”.  One thing was for certain, Otis showed the utmost of respect to his fellow artists by doing incredible covers of their songs.  “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)” is one of the greatest love songs ever made.  It’s pretty hard to not be emotionally touched by that song.  I’ve always been a fan of Otis’ love songs.  They don’t sound sappy or weak at all.  Otis Redding sounded like a strong, real man who was comfortable with being emotional without sounding syrupy or weepy.

The other track on this album that gets me every time is the cover of the Stones’ “Satisfaction.”  Some background info on Otis’ cover kind of goes like this: supposedly, Otis was not very familiar with the song, until the day came to record it.  The reason why Otis’ lyrics differ so much from the original is because he actually barely knew any of the words!  Talk about true creativity!  The Rolling Stones wrote and recorded the song with Otis Redding and similar American soul artists in mind as inspiration.  Redding’s rendition featured the horn section main-riff, which is what Keith Richards originally intended on doing.  The Stones were so impressed with this cover, that their later concert rendition of the song reflected Redding’s interpretation.

The Stax players (Steve Cropper, Al Jackson Jr., Donald “Duck” Dunn, and so on) positively smoke on this record.  Steve Cropper’s biting and nasty Telecaster sound just screams.  Pay particular attention to the all-out sweaty ‘n’ gritty blues workout, “Rock Me Baby.”  These guys were jamming hard in that little studio!

Since Otis Redding is probably my favorite solo artist of all-time, I’d recommended all of his recordings to a beginner.  However, I’d have a hard time not recommending this album as the starting point. To me, and many others, this album truly embodies the classic Stax sound.  A gem.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Rock Me Baby”

😀 CD Reissue | 2008 | Rhino | buy here ]
:) Vinyl Reissue | 2001 | Sundazed | buy here ]
😎 Spotify link | listen ]

The Easybeats “The Shame Just Drained”

The Shame Just Drained was a collection of Easybeats material that slipped out on vinyl in 1977.  The album contained 15 unreleased tracks from the group’s mid 60s prime, 1966-1968.  Most of these songs date from aborted studio sessions with Glyn Johns (Central Sound Studio Sessions – 1968-) and Shel Talmy (Olympic Studios Sessions – 1967).

There were many fine Aussie rock groups in the 1960s but none of them exploded onto the scene with as much excitement or anticipation as the Easybeats. Their live performances and chart smashes firmly established the Australian rock n roll scene. They recorded several fine albums (Friday On My Mind is probably their best) and waxed many classic Oz singles throughout their fabled career. Late 60s tracks such as “Land Of Make Believe,” “Peculiar Hole In The Sky,” “Falling Off The Edge Of The World,” and “Come In You’ll Get Pneumonia” were as good as anything being released in the UK or US at the time. Then there was “Good Times,” a song which famously caused Paul McCartney to pull his car over and ring the BBC to ask for a replay. While some of their best songs were recorded in the late 60s, the groups final albums, Vigil and Friends, are considered major disappointments.

By 1969, drugs and management issues had reduced the Easybeats to a bland good-time pop group, lacking the muscle and adventure of previous years. While their sharp demise was sad, when the Easybeats were on, they were surely one of the best.

The Shame Just Drained strongly recalls the Kinks from Something Else, or more accurately, The Great Lost Kinks Album – a mishmash of aborted late 60’s sessions and raw, mid 60’s material. Great power pop numbers such as “Wait a Minute” and the fiery “Baby I’m a Comin” hold hands with observational Ray Davies-like numbers “I’m on Fire”, “Mr. Riley of Higginbottom and Clive” and “Kelly” – this is the late 60’s Easybeats at their finest. Other songs such as “Amanda Storey”, “We’ll Make It Together” and “Where Old Men Go” are also excellent, featuring more a psych pop vibe with mellotrons, tinkling piano and sophisticated arrangements.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Baby I’m A Comin'”

😀 Reissue | 2005 | Repertoire | buy here ]
:) Original | 1977 | Albert | search ebay ]
😎 Spotify link | listen ]

uReview The Best SNL Musical Guests

I recently discovered that every episode of Saturday Night Live, from 1975-2010, is available on Netflix Instant View, so I’ve been scouring episodes just for the musical guests, which – let’s face it – were the best part of the show. It’s fascinating to see artists in the television spotlight, bringing their A-game, and sometimes at their most vulnerable. So far I’ve been mostly watching Season 2 which featured Tom Waits, Brian Wilson, Frank Zappa, The Kinks doing “Sleepwalker,” Dr. John with Levon Helm and The Meters, and a killer performance from the Band. I love how they let the musicians take over the show and run two or three songs – it seems like a testament to the greatness of the music from that era.

I have also been watching guests from Seasons 3 and 4, Zappa actually hosts a whole show in his detached and sardonic manner, Devo, The Dead, and even Ornette Coleman take the stage. It’s a very cool historical record that I’d recommend scanning, and you might actually find a skit or two worth watching. You can find the complete list of guests here.

Q. What are your favorite SNL musical performances?

Update. These acts have so far been mentioned in the comments section:

DEVO (1978-)
Elvis Costello (1977)
Captain Beefheart (1980)
Tom Waits (1977)
David Bowie (1979)
Rolling Stones (1978-)
John Prine (1976)
B-52’s (1980)
Neil Young (2000)
Patti Smith (1976)
The Replacements (1985)
R.E.M. (1995)
Taj Mahal (1977)
Jackson Browne (1977)

Bread “Bread”

Bread were known as one of the premier 70s soft rock acts and rightly so, as they produced some of the best music that genre has to offer.  This debut, released by Elektra in 1969, is much different than those early 70s records.  Bread, is closer to Crosby, Stills and Nash’s debut album (also from 1969), combining Buffalo Springfield and Byrds folk-rock influences with a Brit pop feel that recalls late period Beatles or Paul McCartney’s early solo work.

The album is an underrated delight.  Every song is rock solid, displaying a diverse range of popular rock styles from the time, such as lite psych, folk-rock, country-rock and soft pop.  David Gates is usually thought of as the master craftsmen in Bread but Robb Royer and James Griffin contribute fine material to Bread.  Songs like the powerful “Move Over” (there’s fiddle on this Griffin penned classic) suggest Bread could rock hard when they wanted to while other great tracks like “London Bridge” are dressed up with moog synthesizer – it’s all about the fine production details on this album.  “Could I,” “You Can’t Measure The Cost,” and “Look At Me” are pop gems, displaying leftover psych residuals from the previous two years.   “Don’t Shut Me Out,” along with many of the album’s songs, seemed to have obvious radio potential – hooks galore, strong songwriting and lovely harmonies.

Vinyl copies are fairly easy to find.  Bread can only be bought on cd as part of a 5 disc box set which will set you back about $20 (not a bad deal at all).  One of the great debuts from 1969 – don’t miss out on this one.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Move Over”

:) Original | 1969 | Elektra | search ebay ]
😉 MP3 Album | download here ]
😎 Spotify link | listen ]

The Rising Sons “The Rising Sons”

The Rising Sons seem to have done things backwards. Built around Taj Mahal, Ry Cooder, and Jesse Lee Kincaid (whose ‘She Sang Hymns Out of Tune’ would later find its way onto records by Nilsson, Hearts and Flowers, and the Dillards), the band would certainly have been deemed a supergroup had it gotten its act together a couple of years down the line. As it stands, the band first made a name for itself on the hip side of the Los Angeles folk scene before eventually finding its way into the studio with producer Terry Melcher, fresh from his success with the Byrds. Though these recording sessions would ultimately lead to the demise of the band, they yielded a strong, if scatterbrained, collection of blues-oriented folk-rock – excellent music that would unfortunately remain unreleased for over thirty years.

Though a compact disc of the band’s recordings was compiled in the late nineties, it was put together as a historical or archival release, and as such, was a little messy in its presentation (a handful of the cuts featured new, overdubbed vocals by Taj Mahal). Fortunately, however, Sundazed Records has recently taken matters into their own hands and pulled off a beautiful restoration job, putting together twelve of the leanest cuts from that mid-sixties session and releasing what they think the first Rising Sons record would have been like, had it actually seen daylight. Even the artwork on this release has been carefully and lovingly designed to look like a vintage record jacket.

The album opens with “Statesboro Blues,” the Blind Willie McTell standard, and a barreling take on the Monkees tune “Take A Giant Step.” Both songs would later be re-cut by Taj Mahal in arguably superior arrangements, but the sides here have a brash recklessness to them that’s both engaging and refreshing. Cooder’s slide guitar and Kincaid’s twelve-string are all over the place, buzzing around the songs and really propelling above your usual late-sixties fare. When the band sets aside the fuzz tones and brings out the acoustic instruments on “The 2:10 Train,” it’s extraordinary to hear how beautiful the Sons can sound when they put their minds to it. Linda Albertano and Tom Campbell’s folk ballad positively dances here, and is as laid back as the earlier cuts are furious, gesturing towards the road Taj would soon take with Jesse Ed Davis and beyond.

If you dig the later work of any of the members involved, or are simply looking for a righteous slice of Los Angeles folk rock, the Rising Sons album delivers. The band manages to deliver an eclectic range of Americana with the perfect blend of rock and roll attitude and musical traditionalism. If it all sounds a little wild and messy, it comes with the territory – this stuff is the real deal. Dig.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Take A Giant Step”

:) Vinyl Reissue | 2001 | Sundazed | buy here ]
😎 Spotify link | listen ]

Hungry Chuck “Hungry Chuck”

I discovered Hungry Chuck serendipitously via Bobby Charles’s eponymous 1972 album. Beyond Charles’s inspirational songs I was fired by his core backing outfit’s astonishingly sympathetic funky swamp-rock playing. I knew Amos Garrett already from his liquid-fingered guitar solo on Maria Muldaur’s sublime worldwide hit “Midnight At The Oasis”, but the other guys were strangers to me. On researching Garrett further with a view to identifying yet more stuff on which he’d played, I came across Hungry Chuck.

Former Eric Andersen sideman Garrett, original Remains drummer ND Smart II, ex-Bo Grumpus bassist Jim Colegrove and peripatetic New York pianist Jeffrey Gutcheon had backed Ian and Sylvia Tyson on their fine country-rock album Great Speckled Bird, recorded in Nashville in 1970. From there the four journeymen musicians moved to Woodstock, NY, and became effectively the house band for Albert Grossman’s Bearsville Records, whence their contribution to the Bobby Charles opus, inter alia. With moonlighting pedal steel guitarist Ben Keith from Neil Young’s alternative backing combo Stray Gators and, curiously, session trumpeter Peter Ecklund, they became Hungry Chuck, presumably jokily named for underground cartoonist Dan Clyne’s repulsive character Hungry Chuck Biscuits (unconfirmed – feel free to correct me if I’m wrong). In between backing Grossman’s extensive register of talent the guys found time to assemble their own album, which appeared eponymously as Hungry Chuck in the US in 1972 but did not find a release in the UK until retrospectively put out by See For Miles in 1988 as South In New Orleans.

Typical of most albums recorded by aggregations of talented sidemen, Hungry Chuck is a slow burner which rewards repeated listening: such outfits by definition don’t usually include chartbusting songwriters or throat-grabbing lead vocalists, but the quality of such works invariably shines through with a little aural rubbing. (To see what I mean, listen to anything by Area Code 615 or Barefoot Jerry, or any of David Lindley’s solo and El Rayo-X waxings.) Most of the songs are penned by Gutcheon; musically they’re an eclectic stew of country rock, Memphis soul and New Orleans jazzy swing, and lyrically they’re joyous deprecatory pokes at 1970s American post-hippie culture and obvious parodies of The Band, Zappa and even James Brown, all recorded with a high sense of humour and absolutely no commercial ambition. Garrett’s playing is comparatively restrained compared to his Speckled Bird output, though gloriously tasteful throughout; Colegrove’s bass is less quirky, more solid than on the Charles outing; and it’s Gutcheon’s virtuoso piano and Ecklund’s multitracked trumpet, cornet and fluegel that largely shape the arrangements. As well as the ten “proper” songs there are three episodes of playful studio nonsense credited to Smart and Garrett, presumably to give them a writer credit. Again typically for albums by such aggregations there are no real standout tracks, but the highlights include the swinging opener “Hats Off, America!” (which includes the splendidly prescient line “Tell your kids, don’t worry ‘cos the banks will never fail!”), the obvious Eagles skit “Watch The Trucks Go By” with great guest harmonica from Paul Butterfield, and the splendidly po-faced “All Bowed Down” which caricatures The Band at their most morose.

After this freshman album Hungry Chuck recorded a second, which to date remains unreleased – why? – and soon afterwards went their own ways, all being highly valued as sessioneers. Most notably, Garrett worked extensively with Maria Muldaur; Smart thumped the tubs for Gram Parsons’s Fallen Angels; Gutcheon was musical arranger for the disparate likes of Gladys Knight and Ringo Starr; and Keith stroked the strings for seven years with Uncle Neil. Proving that the split was not rancorous, the Chuck members also intermittently toured and recorded in various combinations almost until the turn of the century, and most still remain active in the business.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“All Bowed Down”

:) Original Vinyl | 1972 | Bearsville | search ebay ]

The Holy Mackerel “The Holy Mackerel”

Paul Williams first pop group was the LA based Holy Mackerel.  While he would go on to greater success writing classic pop hits for Three Dog Night and the Carpenters, the music he recorded with the Holy Mackerel is more adventurous and psychedelic.  The group’s only album was released by Warner Brothers in 1968.  While it wasn’t a commercial success, the LP features some great material.

The best tunes on The Holy Mackerel are on par with great Millennium and Sagittarus tracks.  Sure, there’s two or three weak tracks throughout the album but much of The Holy Mackerel is given over to quality stuff.  “Scorpio Red”, “Wildflowers”, “The Secret of Pleasure”, “10,000 Men” and “1984” are excellent dreamy soft psych tracks.  “1984” is probably the album’s magical highlight although “Wildflowers” features interesting distorted vocals and plenty of swirling sitar.  Many of the songs on the LP are psychedelic folk-rock but there’s a few country-rockers (“Somewhere in Arizona” and “The Golden Ghost of Love”), pure folk (“The Lady is Waiting”), and bouncy Nilsson-like pop (“Bitter Honey”) dispersed throughout ; these cuts are vintage late 60s LA pop.  There’s a lot of ideas at work here but the group manages to pull it off, making The Holy Mackerel an artistic success.  Highly recommended to those who appreciate intelligent sunshine pop/soft psych sounds.

Now Sounds reissued The Holy Mackerel in 2010 with plenty of extras.  Also worth checking out is Paul Williams 1970 collaboration with Roger Nichols titled We’ve Only Just Begun.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Bitter Honey”

:) Original Vinyl | 1968 | Reprise | search ebay ]
😀 CD Reissue | 2005 | Collector’s Choice | buy here ]

Hickory Wind “Hickory Wind”

This group took their name from the classic Byrds/Gram Parsons song.  Hickory Wind, from Indiana, were fairly young musicians when they cut this mini gem in 1969.  If you consider the limited studio technology on hand, Hickory Wind came up big, with a very good country-rock garage psych private press LP.  Initially, when you look at the record, it resembles one of those male/female folk duo LPs or maybe a private press christian rock album (note the small crucifix at the bottom of the record and the amatuer illustration).  Thankfully, it’s neither of those.   There are mild Buffalo Springfield, Byrds and Beatles echoes throughout the album but closer, more accurate references might be  Riley or Spur.

Most of the albums tracks are strong but only a handful qualify as excellent.   “Father Come With Me” and the bizarre spoken word number “Mr. Man” give the album its psychedelic folk-rock sheen – both are great tracks with lots of organ and moody garage vocals.  “Time and Changes,” a pounding garage rocker with sizzling fuzz would soon be recut by B.F. Trike, which was essentially a later version of Hickory Wind.  In some circles, “Time and Changes” is considered a classic.  The remaining cuts have a strong country-rock/folk-rock flavor.  The bare bones production of Hickory Wind gives these compositions a unique quality that makes this album memorable – no albums I know of have quite this sound.  “Country Boy,” “The Loner,” “I Don’t Believe,” “Judy,” and “Maybe Tomorrow” are well worth hearing, all eerie slices of early country-rock/Americana.

I’ve read other reviews that describe Hickory Wind as only half a good album or not that good at all.  Don’t believe this.  Hickory Wind is a fine album – consistent throughout with lots of interesting twists and turns.  Check out the recent Beatball reissue as original vinyl LPs will be impossible to find (just 100 original Gigantic label LPs were pressed).  Rockadelic would release B.F. Trike’s only album, which is also a good post psychedelic hard rock album.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Country Boy”

😀 CD Reissue | 2007 | Beatball | buy here ]
:) Vinyl | 1969 | Gigantic | search ebay ]

Jesse Fuller “San Francisco Bay Blues”

Born in Jonesboro, Georgia in 1896, Jesse Fuller spent most of his childhood growing up in the countryside outside Atlanta under what you could call less than ideal circumstances in a foster home. Fuller spent the next sixty years working a handful of odd jobs, working on the fields and in the farms, on the railroads and in the factories, and out in the street. His resume even included a stint in the circus and an appearance as an extra in the film The Thief of Bagdad. In the years just before World War II, Fuller found himself living in Oakland, CA and working for the railroad. As work became increasingly difficult to find after the end of the war Fuller began to consider, already well into his 50’s, the possibility of a career in music. This should have been an obvious choice for Fuller, as he had already developed a wide ranging repertoire of songs on the guitar as a boy. After failing to put together a dependable band, Fuller decided he’d simply have to become a one-man band.

San Francisco Bay Blues, Fuller’s first album, was released by the label Good Time Jazz in 1963 and features Fuller performing mostly originals, singing and playing guitar while accompanying himself on a variety of instruments, including harmonica, kazoo, high-hat, and the fotdella–a musical instrument of Fuller’s own creation that is essentially an upright bass with six strings that are plucked by a row of foot pedals. Every track is all Fuller and completely live with no overdubs of any kind.

The record kicks off with the title track, “San Francisco Bay Blues,” a completely classic song in every way. One of the quirkiest blues songs ever laid to wax, this tune has a good-time jug band vibe that leaves the listener feelin’ good and waiting for more. Side 2 kicks off with Fuller showcasing his bluesy bottleneck guitar style on “John Henry”, his own re-telling of the classic railroad tale of man vs. machine. “Stealin’ Back To My Old Time Used To Be” is an upbeat rag that features Fuller accompanying himself on acoustic 12 string guitar and harmonica, channeling a country blues sound straight from the Piedmont Georgia pines and backwoods farms of his youth. Fuller wraps it all up with “Brownskin Girl (I’ve Got My Eye On You),” a rollicking country-blues pop tune that sounds, like much of the album, too big to have been performed by just one man.

Fuller’s debut is notable not only for the top-notch singing and songwriting, as well as Fuller’s unique one-man band approach that he had perfected to a tee, but for being such a vivid portrait of, essentially, an old time street performer. Good Time Jazz Records had the foresight to capture Fuller in his prime, playing the songs the way he had intended, instead of forcing him to record with a band backing him, as was becoming more and more common with many of the blues records of the era that were streaming out of studios like Chess in Chicago. Good Time Jazz made the equally smart decision to send Fuller to a quality recording studio, and San Francisco Bay Blues greatly benefits from a wonderful quality of sound, where every instrument can be heard with a surprising clarity– putting the album, in terms of listenability, heads and shoulders above piles of excellent but muddy sounding blues records. The Grateful Dead, Dylan, Clapton, and others have covered his songs and the influence of Fuller and his bold one-man band sound can be heard in groups like Jim Kweskin and his motley crue of jug fanatics and the legions of kazoo blowing washboard wailers that had began popping up around America in the years just before and following the release of this lp. With a sound equally rooted in the Georgia country blues of Blind Willie McTell, the ragtime rompers of Gary Davis, and the old-timey jug sound of groups like The Memphis Jug Band, Fuller’s San Francisco Bay Blues serves as a bridge between the acoustic blues of the late 20s/early 30s and the acoustic blues and jug sounds of the mid-century urban folk music revival that brought hordes of bohemian beatniks into coffee shops from coast to coast–San Francisco Bay Blues brought the blues into a new era and onto the West Coast.

Simply put, San Francisco Bay Blues serves up a heapin’ helpin’ of upbeat, feel-good blues tunes, reminding you that, dark as the days may get, as long as you’re alive you’ve got a reason to dance. Better get ready!

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“San Francisco Bay Blues”

😀 CD Reissue | 1991 | OBC | buy here ]
:) Original | 1963 | Good Time Jazz | search ebay ]

Phil Ochs “Greatest Hits”

Few rock and roll tragedies have the sort of complex, emotional impact as that of Phil Ochs. As the most uncompromising of the 1960s protest singers, Ochs was arguably one of the only such singers who refused to surrender his revolutionary ambitions for abstract, personal romanticism. However, as the idealistic hopes of the decade began to give way to darker days, Ochs found the counterculture facing what looked like a losing battle. Caught between the collapse of the movement he had devoted himself to and a deep, chronic depression, Ochs did what any man would do: he took a wild left turn and released one of his most esoteric albums – one that remained fervently political, but which also turned out to be surprisingly autobiographical.

Despite its title, Greatest Hits is an album of ten new original songs, produced by the legendary Van Dyke Parks. This record had to have been one of the last thing Ochs fans expected from their hero, as it more or less entirely eschews the folk music foundations of his previous records and instead delves wholeheartedly into a sort of orchestral country rock. A taste of the man’s electric explorations was certainly evident on his last record, Rehearsals For Retirement, but that had been comparable to what Dylan and the Byrds had done before him; the country touch here is his most interesting indulgence.

Perhaps tellingly, Elvis Presley serves as one of the record’s most pervasive influences, from the Elvis In Memphis nod of the cover art, to the great, sarcastic tag-line “fifty Phil Ochs fans can’t be wrong.” One of Ochs’ best-remembered quotes is that “if there’s any hope for a revolution in America, it lies in getting Elvis Presley to become Che Guevara.” This record is his strongest attempt at bridging the wide gap between those two disparate icons, and though it has never received much critical or commercial attention, it really is an underrated classic.

Simply reading through the musicians involved gives testimony to the musical strength here. Players include Clarence White, Kevin Kelley and Gene Parsons from the Byrds, Ry Cooder, Chris Ethridge, James Burton, Earl Ball, and even Don Rich from the Buckaroos. Together they craft a driving and authentic honky-tonk sound that is given a unique bent by Parks’ contrasting orchestral arrangements – check out the opener “One Way Ticket Home” for one of the most interesting examples. Of course, that is not to say that Ochs’ old sound is entirely absent, as songs such as “Jim Dean From Indiana” and the eerily prophetic “No More Songs” certainly harken back to the somber and dramatic style he had been exploring on his last few recordings.

Greatest Hits is criminally out of print in any tangible format, though it is available digitally. This is absolutely a record worth investigating, whether you’re already an established Phil Ochs fan or are only now learning about the man and his music. A live record was made during the tour for this album, and eventually released in 1975 as Gunfight at Carnegie Hall. It takes Ochs’ robust new sound even further, featuring numerous rock and roll covers and rearrangements of older material. Also of note is the new, highly-recommended documentary about Ochs, There But For Fortune. It’s a compelling story, and the film really does manage to capture the many tangled aspects of his life, including his enduring legacy.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“One Way Ticket Home”

:) Original Vinyl | 1970 | A&M | search ebay ]
😉 MP3 Album | download here ]
😎 Spotify link | listen ]