Phil Ochs – Cross My Heart:An Introduction To Phil Ochs

Patchy selection from the man Quentin Tarantino called "a musical journalist, a chronicler of his time"

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Ochs was as influential as Dylan in crafting the Village folk-protest legend. But while Bob went on to superstardom, Phil wouldn’t budge from the barricades. He remained loyal to the idea of turning the news of the hour into the music of the times, long after it became unfashionable. His career, already blighted by writer’s block, depression and alcoholism, ended with his suicide in 1976.

As this timely compilation reminds us, however, Ochs’ best songs sound like they’ve been torn from the morning’s headlines?anti-war classics like “White Boots Marching In A Yellow Land” and “I Ain’t Marchin’ Anymore” (both included here) and “Here’s To The State Of Mississippi”, one of the bravest protest songs ever written (sadly absent).

He could also be windily allegorical (“The Crucifixion” makes “Gates Of Eden” sound as blunt as Billy Bragg), and the often bafflingly inappropriate arrangements make a lot of tracks here sound dated. Which is unfair, because the important things Ochs had to say remain entirely timeless.

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