Thursday, 5 February 2009

Tape From California

Tape From California is Phil Ochs' fifth album, released in mid-1968 on A&M Records. A step back from its predecessor Pleasures of the Harbor, a sort of cross between that album and 1966's Phil Ochs In Concert, it features folk with shades of rock, bluegrass and baroque music.

The best-known track is the epic "The War Is Over," a portrait of the ridiculousness of war released at a time when Vietnam seemed as if it would never end. Its upbeat, military-style backing is as ironic as the backing for "Outside of a Small Circle of Friends" had been one year prior. The opening track, written as he was moving from New York City to Los Angeles, is the first truly rocking song in Ochs' catalogue, an aural comment on Ochs' own life circa 1968. "The Harder They Fall" is a reworking of nursery rhyme characters into a somewhat menacing and bewildering tale, including lines about Mother Goose stealing lines from Lenny Bruce. "White Boots Marching in a Yellow Land," in line with his earlier anti-war songs, is one of the more poetic songs on the album.

"When In Rome," which lasts over thirteen minutes, is Ochs' longest song, a portrait of depression in the style of Bob Dylan's "Desolation Row," set to simple acoustic guitar backing. It could have been about life in ancient Rome, America in the 1960s, or any other point in between.

Track listing

All songs by Phil Ochs.

1. "Tape From California" – 6:45
2. "White Boots Marching in a Yellow Land" – 3:35
3. "Half A Century High" – 2:53
4. "Joe Hill" – 7:18
5. "The War Is Over" – 4:25
6. "The Harder They Fall" – 3:52
7. "When In Rome" – 13:13
8. "The Floods of Florence" – 4:52

  • Phil Ochs - guitar, vocals
  • Larry Marks - producer
  • Lincoln Mayorga - piano, keyboards
  • Van Dyke Parks - piano, keyboards ("Tape From California")
  • Ramblin' Jack Elliott - flat-picked guitar ("Joe Hill")
  • Ian Freebairn-Smith - arrangements

1 comment:

Elliot Knapp said...

Awesome, just reviewed this one on my music blog. Thanks for the Phil Ochs blog!