Hot on the heels of 2019’s critically acclaimed ‘Here Come the Young’, Martyn Joseph is back with ‘Days of Decision: A Tribute to Phil Ochs’.
Phil Ochs was a prolific singer songwriter in the 1960s and 1970s. His work was admired by many of his contemporaries including, Bob Dylan and John Lennon. At the time of his death in 1975, Ochs had written over one hundred songs, played several high profile festivals and released eight albums. It is this extensive back catalogue that Joseph has mined for this project and, in doing so, has given new life to the creative work of the lesser-known American protest singer.
Joseph himself is a prolific songwriter and has been a strong advocate of social justice throughout his career. His songs have never shied away from challenging injustice across the world and many humanitarian organisations have recognised his work. Accompanied only by guitar and with minimal backing instrumentation the music and words of Ochs are a natural fit for Joseph and it is amazing how naturally his timing and playing suit the music.
The songs chosen here (Fourteen in total) have lost none of their potency over the years. The anti-war message of ‘I Ain’t Marching Anymore’ is every bit as relevant today as it was in 1965 when Ochs wrote it as a protest against American involvement in Vietnam. The social awareness of ‘There but for Fortune’ (A later hit for Joan Baez), has not waned through time, and it is a song that Joseph sings with particular relish.
‘That Was the President’ captures the heartbreak and sadness of not just Ochs, but the grief an entire generation felt after the assassination of President Kennedy. The satirical ‘The Ballad of William Worthy’ tells the contradictory tale of the persecution of journalist William Worthy after visiting Cuba. The chilling warning contained within ‘Knock on the Door’ is a reminder of past persecution of minorities by those in power that is disturbingly applicable to the global politics of today.
‘Days of Decision: A Tribute to Phil Ochs’ is a soul stirring collection of music delivered with taste and passion by an artist who lives and breathes the messages contained within the songs.
‘Days of Decision: A Tribute to Phil Ochs’ is released via Pipe Records on January 17th.