Sunday, 15 March 2009

Greatest Hits

Greatest Hits was Phil Ochs' seventh LP and final studio album. Contrary to its title, it offered ten new tracks of material, mostly produced by Van Dyke Parks, and was released in 1970. Focusing more on country music than any other album in Ochs' canon, it featured an impressive number of musicians, including members of The Byrds and Elvis Presley's backing group alongside mainstays Lincoln Mayorga and Bob Rafkin. His lyrics were at their most self-referential and only one overtly political song appeared, "Ten Cents A Coup," which includes an earnest (though comical) spoken introduction strung together from two anti-war rallies. The song is an ironic tribute to Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew, who Ochs wryly suggests are more laughable than Laurel and Hardy.

Among the self-referential tracks was "Chords of Fame," which warned against the dangers of popularity. "Boy In Ohio" saw Ochs pining for his childhood and "Jim Dean of Indiana" was a tale of James Dean's life, a tribute to him, written after Ochs had visited Dean's grave. "No More Songs" was the most telling of the tracks, as Ochs would release but five more studio tracks in his lifetime after 1970, never completing another studio album.

Track listing

All songs by Phil Ochs.

1. "One Way Ticket Home" – 2:40
2. "Jim Dean of Indiana" – 5:05
3. "My Kingdom For A Car" – 2:53
4. "Boy In Ohio" – 3:43
5. "Gas Station Women" – 3:31
6. "Chords of Fame" – 3:33
7. "Ten Cents A Coup" – 3:14
8. "Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Me" – 5:05
9. "Basket in the Pool" – 3:40
10. "No More Songs" – 4:31

Participants (partial list)

* Phil Ochs - guitar, piano, vocals
* Van Dyke Parks - producer, keyboards
* Andrew Wickham - co-producer ("Gas Station Women" and "Chords of Fame" only)
* Clarence White - guitar, backing vocals
* Laurindo Almeida - guitar
* James Burton - guitar
* Bob Rafkin - guitar, bass
* Chris Ethridge - bass
* Kenny Kaufman - bass
* Gene Parsons - drums
* Kevin Kelley - drums
* Earl Ball - piano, arrangements
* Lincoln Mayorga - keyboards
* Mike Rubini - keyboards
* Richard Rosmini - pedal steel, harmonica
* Ry Cooder - mandolin on "One Way Ticket Home"
* Don Rich - fiddle
* Gary Coleman - percussion
* Tom Scott - tenor saxophone
* Bobby Bruce - violin
* Anne Goodman - cello
* Merry Clayton, Sherlie Matthews and Clydie King - backing vocals
* Bobby Wayne and Jim Glover - harmony vocals
* Bob Thompson - arrangements

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