Reissues (February 19): The Best Soul Album & The Best R&B Album, Phil Ochs and Charlie Rich

Phil Ochs
All The News That’s Fit To Sing (Man In The Moon MITMCD 28)/I Ain’t Marching Anymore (MITMCD 27)

These are no frills reissues of the first two of the eight albums released by troubled protest singer Phil Ochs prior to his self-inflicted death at the age of 35 in 1976. All The News That’s Fit To Sing, from 1964, and the following year’s I Ain’t Marching Anymore were his only catalogue releases for Elektra, and failed to secure chart status. However, interest in Ochs, particularly in the early phases of his career, has grown over the years, and their re-release will be welcomed by many. An uncompromising singer/songwriter in the folk/rock mode, Ochs was influenced by the likes of Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie and Buddy Holly, and made fewer compromises than Bob Dylan, whose rise to fame was more smooth and sustained. All The News That’s Fit To Print is well-named – Ochs described himself at this point as a singing journalist and a lot of the current affairs and social issues that exercised his mind were ripped from the pages of Newsweek, though the album’s title is a variant on the New York Times’ motto, All The News That’s Fit To Print. Vietnam, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the sinking of a nuclear-powered submarine are all grist to Ochs mill. Arguably, the better of the two albums, I Ain’t Marching Anymore is similarly political, addressing all of the issues of the day, but injecting humour into Draft Dodger’s Blues, a haunting melody into Celia, and the spirit of Woody Guthrie into much else. Worth investigating.

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