First off, I am a huge Phil Ochs fan and consider myself privileged to have seen him perform twice in a small coffee house in Philadelphia at the peak of his career and, later, I also saw him in Philly on his "Gold Lame' Tour" (a few days after the "Gunfight at Carnegie Hall" concert in NYC. With that said, I probably have every Ochs album somewhere in my collection.
I was thrilled when I heard that a newly discovered radio performance was being issued. (Actually TWO Ochs radio shows are being released this summer - but more on the other in a minute.) I have to say that this release can only be recommended to the Ochs completist.
On December 15, 1965, Ochs - who was then 24 years old did an "in studio" at non-commercial Pacifica Radio station WBAI in New York. I don't know if the station has a copy of that show but - from what my ears tell me, this CD is the result of an off the air - possibly home - recording. There are dropouts and distortion throughout. But what he performed is "interesting" to know. Though all 10 songs performed during the 52-minute program were eventually released - the song "Morning" , performed twice here (once with jazz chords), was not issued until 1997 -only "Power and The Glory" had been recorded as of the date of this show. In his intro to "Crucifixion" -a performance that is over 11 minutes in length - Ochs says "This is a song New York won't be ready for for another 100 years." And, at one point he forgets the words and passes it off with the comment "Well, it's a new song". His humor is in evidence when he does a parody of Dylan and sings a song he calls "Positively (NOT) 4th Street". It lasts but 58 seconds. He sings "Joe Hill", "Changes", Cannons of Christianity" and others in his well-known catalog but there is also the much lesser-known "City Boy".
The CD contains a two-page essay (in small print, but readable) with no author credited. The CD appears to be an import, though there is no country of origin. Obviously this is not authorized by Ochs' family and is probably not authorized by WBAI. This same label (All Access) recently released a Loudon Wainwright radio concert with really decent sound. This disc certainly doesn't have that. There is very little - if any - released material of Ochs' early career (well there is the CD - "The Broadside Ballads" on Smithsonian Folkways, but little else.). I would have wished that this WBAI concert had been preserved by the station and an authorized version - with decent sound - for his fans. But none seems to be forthcoming.
So, I wanted to make sure that those Ochs fans looking for "Phil Live" (other than the Elektra "In Concert", the more obscure "Live in Vancouver - 1968" and the A&M "Gunfight" albums) know what is - and what is not - on this CD.
A further note - In a couple of weeks Rock Beat Records will be releasing a CD titled "LIVE AGAIN" taken from a concert in 1973 (8 years after the WBAI gig) at a club in Michigan with 19 songs and running (per Amazon) 70 minutes. I'm waiting for my copy to post the review. I don't know the source of this recording as of the date I post this review.
I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.