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MARTYN JOSEPH - Days Of Decision: A Tribute To Phil Ochs 

MARTYN JOSEPH - Days Of Decision: A Tribute To Phil Ochs 
Pipe Records PRCD029 

I only saw Martyn in live performance once: way back in Cardiff, early in his career. I was impressed. And I have watched him subsequently gain a huge following amongst audiences that favour the likes of Chris de Burgh, Cat Stevens and Bruce Springsteen. The man has talent to burn: the question is, will this CD endear him to the hardened folkie who has often foolishly resisted Martyn (maybe wary of stars from BBC Radio 2?).

But Martyn stands a real chance here, having chosen to pay homage to a member of folk’s pantheon: Phil Ochs. In conjunction with Phil’s family, he’s come up with a tribute album of 14 songs, hoping to keep Phil’s memory alive for folks like me who were of Phil’s generation, and those born after his 1976 suicide that chilled us to the bone. Who can forget Tom Paxton’s magnificent song Phil, written soon after Ochs died?

I applaud Martyn’s choice of songs, and I also respect his decision not to really interpret the songs, but instead faithfully reproduce them. He says himself in the liner notes, that “Phil wasn’t the world’s greatest guitar player” so Martyn decided against “complicated guitar arrangements that might distract and move too far away from the original work”. This results in an album that captures all of Phil’s passion.

And special thanks Martyn for featuring When I’m Gone: my favourite song of Phil’s. One deserving of a zillion MOR covers, but – folk cognoscenti apart - is still largely unknown.

Dai Woosnam


This review appeared in Issue 132 of The Living Tradition magazine