What’s That I Hear?
The Songs of Phil Ochs
This two-disc set is a tribute to Phil Ochs, father of modern folk music, no questions about it. Most of the songs on here are straightforward renditions of his compositions, with a small handful straying into innocuous territory like folk-reggae. If you’re looking for songs with melodies like hallucinating snakes or sounds like ogres with botulism, you won’t find it here. The real power and glory (to paraphrase Ochs) in folk music is in its lyrical content.
So on the other hand, if you’re willing to listen to what Phil Ochs was saying, and what these people are repeating, you’ll find yourself amply rewarded. Ochs, never content with sitting in a coffehouse and complaining about the world’s unfairness, often took matters in his own hands, playing at protests and marching with the rest of the people. His vision of America was too pure for those whose jingoism he challenged, and in an ironic turn of events, he was often denounced by “patriots” — often the same patriots were those who had no problem with the corruption of the Founding Fathers’ vision.
Two entire discs might be excessive as an introduction to the man’s work, and the subtleties of tribute will not be apparent to the newcomer. Still, this is a must-have document for those who already appreciate Ochs’ work. Sliced Bread Records, P.O. Box 606, Blue Bell, PA 19422; http://www.slicedbread.com