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The Pleasures of Harbor

4.3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (1 Jan. 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Collectors Choice
  • ASIN: B00004YL2I
  • Other Editions: Vinyl
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 291,794 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Cross My Heart
  2. Flower Lady
  3. Outside Of A Small Circle Of Friends
  4. I've Had Her
  5. Miranda
  6. The Party
  7. Pleasures Of The Harbor
  8. The Crucifixion

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
I first heard this when staying with a friend in Vancouver in '73, and was immediately bewitched by the originality of the lyrics and their unusual musical accompaniments. The first of his A&M albums, the first, also, of the 'Larry Marks Trilogy' of albums he recorded between 1967 and 1968, this is the one I'd take to my desert island (if albums were allowed!). I couldn't live without Flower Lady, my favourite Ochs song, and I'd also miss Pleasures itself, and the gorgeously sung and played (if rather misogynous) I've Had Her. The Party is one of my top five Ochs songs, and I've often wished Elton John would have a bash at it: he'd do the lounge piano well enough and a marginally camp vocal delivery would suit the snide lyrics superbly. For years I had to live with a scratchy vinyl copy, but now, at long last, it's available again in its original glory. I put this in the same class as Dylan's Blood On The Tracks, Buffy's Country Girl and Ballerina, Neil Young's After The Goldrush, Cat Stevens' Teaser and the Firecat and The Band's Brown Album. Not only the best of the Ochs canon, it's arguably one of the finest albums ever recorded by anybody.
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Format: Audio CD
This is, for me, one of Phil's most original works. He'd travelled, he'd suffered, he'd given of his best. So here he was seeing the world, -warts and all, yet still finding the inspiration to make new music, (as depressed as he sometimes became, at the overwhelming odds of ever acheiving his goal, -to effect real social change...). This album has all of his usual flair, -and then some. The long "Crucifixion" track is really very 'avante guard' and extraordinary, esp. for it's time. "The Flower Lady" is a plaintive and touching song, reminding us to not forget to support ordinary working class folk who are trying to scratch a living, as we hurry about our business. "Outside of a Small Circle of Friends" was released as one of Phil's rare singles! Here he castigates the bane of every activist and organiser; -the deadly LETHERGY!! with his critique of marijuana smokers (too stoned to make a stand against the law), Monopoly players, -(too busy with their game to go to the aid of a woman being attacked), Sunday New York Times readers, (too lost in their reading to act responsibly about loss of freedom of speech), and so on... "Cross My Heart" is, (amongst other things), Phil's continued pledge to never give up on the revolutionary endevour that he devoted his life to. "The Party" is again Phil feeling himself to be something of an 'Outsider'. Here he is looking in on other folks' lives, and passing comment. He observes, -keely and well, the often fatuous goings on, of the likes of the Lothario (Romeo) figure at the party who has "...notches carved on his thigh bone" (-to keep track of all his sexual conquests!). The Guests whose "...Wits have been dipped in wine" fall prey to Phil's scrutiny.Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
Late sixties, and singing-newsboy-folkie Ochs goes electric(-ish).Folk fans were predictably outraged, rock fans unmoved, and Ochs conspicuously failed to gain the commercial and critical kudos won by his uneasy idol Dylan. Which goes to show there's nowt as stupid as the general public. 'Harbour' is a wonderful record and it should be alongside 'Highway 61' in the discerning listener's collection of timeless triumphs. Och's jump into poetry is oddly effective in subjects ranging from murdered presidents to brutally discarded girlfriends. It's all wrapped up in music that (a) works and (b) resonates long after first listening. (Special mention to Lincoln Mayorga's superb piano work). Wherever you are now Phil, thanks and good luck.
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Format: Audio CD
Phil Ochs was a great American poet. And like 99.9% of poets, was an absolutely terrible songwriter. The often inspired, outré orchestral arrangements on this record are entirely wasted as Ochs rarely-in-tune whine of a voice drones interminably through the most shabby, amateur chords and melodies I've ever heard.
"The Party" consists of eight verses of brilliant social observation. Look up a Phil Ochs lyric site and marvel but don't listen to the song. You'll experience eight verses of limited, uninteresting, almost amateur musical composition.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars 24 reviews
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Overlooked Influential Classic Finally On CD 7 Dec. 2000
By Bradley H. Beck - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Thank the people at Collector's Choice Music for finally putting this and other classic late-60's Phil Ochs albums on CD for the first time.
This record was Ochs' first for A&M, and a departure from his signature strict-folky "singing reporter" style. He dives into the pop and burgeoning experimental scenes of Southern California for musical inspiration, and uses more poetic, but straight-forward lyrics and longer, more free song-structures to create an album that is an early blueprint for what is now known as Chamber-Pop.
The individual songs are among his finest, and most experimental to date. "Outside of a Small Circle of Friends," is a great parody of social apathy in the form of the murder of Kitty Genovese, and was even a hit (at least in my neck of the woods,) and "Cross My Heart" is a pop classic with a hidden message that would subvert anyone who actually can concentrate on the lyrics.
"I've Had Her" is a put down on the level of the nastiest Bob Dylan song, and "Pleasures of the Harbor" is one of many Phil Ochs epics with a nautical theme. The only disappointment is the classic "The Crucifixion," a narrative epic of modern martyrs, such as JFK. The musical arrangement by Joesph Byrd, while being quite excellent on it's own, and very forward-thinking in a subverted-pop style, takes away from the beauty and sadness of the lyrics. . . Luckily one could always listen to a wonderful acoustic version of this song on "Live in Vancouver," so it's kind of a moot point!
The reissue sounds very good, even though it wasn't remastered with the most start-of-the-art equipment, probably due to the small market for this album, but it is still good enough to not detract from this beautiful, challenging and heartfelt music of the genius Phil Ochs.
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A unique product of competition 27 Dec. 2006
By Elliot Knapp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Phil Ochs, the so-called singing journalist, was always (to his frustration) compared to Bob Dylan. Both started out as guitar slinging folkies singing protest songs and putting out simple records with clear social messages. Eventually Dylan, the public's and critics' golden boy, quit putting out straight up folk and broke down the barriers between the genres of folk and rock, still dealing with similar lyrical themes but in a less direct way. Since most of the music consuming public viewed Dylan as the icon, once he made this move (though lots of people hated him for it in the beginning), all bets were off for the other folk musicians. In this climate, Phil Ochs, Dylan's worthy but always less-famous competitor, created his most progressive album and showed listeners that rock and folk could be combined in more ways than one.

Pleasures of the Harbor starts off with a harpsichord-laden, jaunty pop song that's definitely NOT about social injustice lifted from the headlines. This song really sets the tone for the rest of the album--Phil Ochs decided to stretch his music and songwriting to include not only rock instrumentation and themes, but also jazz and classical elements as well, all the while painting lyrical pictures of society's ills using satire and narrative to expertly get the job done.

"Outside of a Small Circle of Friends" is a classic collection of witty anecdotes of hypocrisy that's right up there with "Draft Dodger Rag" as Och's funniest and cleverest works. The sound is unlike anything he ever did--rag! "I've Had Her" is a cutting, cynical love song set to a gorgeous orchestral backing, with Och's heartbreaking refrain "I've had her; she's nothing." "Miranda" is a great character sketch of a Rudolph Valentino fan who manages to escape the pain of the world, performed with some great dixieland backup. "The Party" is also really jazzy, with plenty of types of people satirized in a party setting. "Pleasures of the Harbor" is another classic, impressionistic song that paints a scene with emotion and drama. "The Crucifixion" closes the album in a controversial way. The lyrics are stark and harrowing, supported by avant-garde classical electronic music (crazy, right?!). Also, I'd like to add that many of these songs feature a top-shelf keyboardist (can't remember the name) whose chops really add to the instrumental end of the daring arrangements

Pleasures of the Harbor is a unique album in both Och's catalogue and in pop music in general. The songs are mostly quite long and the style remains unreproduced by anyone else. Phil Ochs, for all the Dylan comparisons, really doesn't sound like Dylan in voice and has a very different style of songwriting. Some critics panned this album as pretentious. I think this really fails to capture the unique nature of the music and Och's courage to put out a record that sounds completely different from anything else. What I really love about his growing approach to songwriting is his skill at showing (rather than telling) the social ills and emotions that are the subjects of his songs. Hopefully this album goes back into print very soon.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding reissue of a great American Artist 8 July 2003
By h,s (s h) - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Whether the lyric lilt of his voice or the tremendous passion of his articulate poetry, Phils Ochs had a profound impact on listeners. He could be politically outlandish (sometimes even more outlandish that his own personal views) but more often incredibly insightful.
His lyrics are some of the the most intelligient written by the modern day folks artists or songwriter of any ilk. And his later work, although not in the least classic folk style material, showed an artistic maturity that could be dazzling. The lyrics could be at once cinematic, portraying a physical scene, and at the same time evocative of intense emotions.
And he used his voice with a keen sense of timing and phrasing -- it's fun just to listen to how he wraps a line around the tempo.
During his short life he was known as much for his politcs as his artistry, and he probably wouldn't have had it any other way.
The material here is that of his first "non-folk-music" albums and contains some of his poetic masterpieces.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Phil's greatest album.... 9 Aug. 2006
By Grigory's Girl - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I love all aspects of Phil's music. But I really enjoy the later stuff that started with this album. Ochs did get away from folk music like his rival Dylan, but Ochs didn't go rock. Instead, his albums became much more poetic and introspective, and they were more pop oriented than Dylan's work. This album was the first one, and it's the best. There isn't one bad song on the album. The songs are some of the most haunting ones Phil ever wrote, and the production here fits them perfectly. The title track is especially haunting (inspired by a great John Ford film, The Long Voyage Home), and Outside a Small Circle of Friends is a great song too. I do like this version of Crucifixion (with its collage of noise going against Ochs's voice). I think it works rather well, even though you have to listen to it a few times before you really get it. The liner notes are especially good, too, especially the line "in such an ugly time the true protest is beauty.". Ochs was eventually destroyed by politics, booze, drugs, and despair, which is a shame, as he had a real gift for great lyrics and for melody. He sang better than Dylan, his songs had more of a coherent storyline, but he didn't have the mystique Dylan has. Phil was moving towards country rock with his final album, the ironically titled "Greatest Hits", and that may have been his niche. Sadly, we'll never know. We'll always miss you, Phil...
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's so sad about Phil 29 May 2004
By Roni, Talk2roni - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Reviewer: Roni, Talk2roni
Phil Ochs was one of those genius-types, kind of mad with creativity and passion. Because of the time he grew up in, he wound up becoming a political activist. The politics were what I agreed with growing up, but over time I have almost completely made a 360. But that's not what this is about.
It's about Phil being in a time when he could channel his passion into "causes" and "anti-somethings". (We were all anti-something in the 70s).
I find that this album, however, is a lot less political, and a lot more personal, and very revealing with regard to the demons he was fighting in his life at that time. The poetry alone was --and is--absolutely dazzling. If you read these lyrics, they are beyond this world. He was a superb writer and his lyrics were haunting and ethereal. There was always a biting edge and sarcasm to it, and a lot of passive-aggressive anger (i.e. "I've Had Her"---the song fascinated me in a weird sort of way). And I thought it was touching about the Flower Lady and nobody buying flowers from her. I think he was P.O.'ed about it.
Next, the music. Beautiful. These songs are works of art. That's how I would have any album I ever made to be like. Not just little song ditties---rather, "experiences", "experiental art". It seems to me that Phil was kind of spiritual, although I don't think he admitted to being a believer in anything of God....I hope that changed although he did ultimately commit suicide so I can't pretend to know what could have been going on in his mind; I do know that it is easier to do such a thing when one is being ruled by drugs or alcohol....but, anyway,
I don't know...you hear a song like "Rehearsals for Retirement" and then find out Phil hung himself. How very very sad.
I met him briefly, and got to know some people who were AROUND him (best friend and girlfriend) and they were very, very nice, caring people. I think Phil was caught in that terrible whirlpool of just not having a grasp of a life purpose when the U.S. was kind of going through a blah phase. Now the call it some sort of Adjustment Disorder....interesting.
Mostly, I don't think he had a grasp of being loved, or knowing how to love others. But, I know he was loved. By those in his personal life and his thousands of fans, loyal fans.
But, I don't want to get too speculative. It's just that I loved Phil Ochs' music, and I am so very sorry that he did not want to go on. I believe he succumbed to alcohol problems, and that the odd phase of gold lame was the beginning of the end for him.
But, if you take an hour and put on some headphones, get lost in this music, you realize there was SO MUCH to this man. He was truly an artist and a great influence in my life. I hear his brother, Michael, has one of the greatest rock and roll photography archives that exist. He's pretty successful too. And when I think of Phil, and that haunting music, I think: "sadness."
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