Phil Ochs All The News That’s Fit To Sing CD (Collectors Choice)… The title of his debut record for Elektra and the cover photo paint Ochs as a topical folksinger and songwriter, a somewhat academic observer of his somewhat trying times. He’s already found a couple of unsung heroes to laud (Lou Marsh and Medger Evers), tosses a sweet nod at Woody Guthrie in the memorial tune “Bound For Glory,” but he also has a tendency to preach. So there’s welcome levity when “The Ballad of William Worthy” kicks in, a funny, sing-song catchy chronicle of a reporter who went to Cuba and had his citizenship stripped for the privilege. A promising debut, but stiff.
Phil Ochs I Ain’t Marching Anymore CD (Collectors Choice)… On his terrific second album, Ochs’ no longer comes across as an uptight young singer of issues, but as a loose and inventive composer using the folk/storytelling conventions to express a more personal vision--one that would reach its full flower after he left New York for the reinvention capital of Los Angeles. In the first two tracks, the title song and “In The Heat of the Summer,” he slips fluidly from the role of universal soldier to topical troubadour, explaining the summer’s riots through a sympathetic class analysis married to a lovely cyclical melody. His confidence, intelligence and the sweetness of his voice make him a fine tour guide to the psychic map of young, left wing America in 1965, and its interests in civil rights, the death penalty, division between the states and the rise of militarism. One flat point comes with “That Was The President,” a predictable and tedious dirge for Kennedy, but even that becomes interesting when placed beside the incredibly powerful song “The Crucifixion” that he’d write a few years later, once he’d processed his grief and disappointment and found metaphors to express how important JFK felt to Ochs and his peers.