Compared to other figures of the early-'60s folk scene, such as Joan Baez and especially Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs is a lesser-known name, or at best a singer/songwriter more heard about than actually heard. Which is a shame, and one this career-spanning three-disc set should help rectify. Beginning his career as a patriotic protester in the tradition of Woody Guthrie, Ochs developed a direct, intelligent songwriting style that conveyed its message without stooping to maudlin preachiness. Supported by a crisp playing style, a stirring voice, and a cutting sense of humor (check out "Love Me, I'm A Liberal"), Ochs' message songs have withstood the test of time; even if the messages themselves have become outdated, the overall themes are still timely. Though "I Ain't Marching Anymore" became the anthem of the anti-draft movement, popular success eluded Ochs, and following the chaos of the 1968 Democratic convention, he grew disillusioned with the political beliefs that had given him a sense of purpose. He even went so far as to pose for an album cover next to a tombstone with the inscription, "Phil Ochs (American)… Died: Chicago, Illinois 1968." The shift is also apparent in his music, which begins to take a more introspective, indirect, brooding tone. The singer's withdrawal in disgust is illustrated on such tracks as "Rehearsals For Retirement" and "The World Began In Eden And Ended In Los Angeles." Sadly, his recording and songwriting career essentially ended in 1970, and, sadder still, Ochs ended his own life six years later, still largely unrecognized as the major talent that Farewells & Fantasies chronicles. If there's a major flaw in the set, it's that, even at 53 tracks, there's simply not enough of it; the extensive liner notes glowingly mention a few songs that aren't to be found, and the few rarities and demo versions present are quite strong. Even so, no one with an ear for first-rate songwriting will be disappointed, and it would be no tragedy if Farewells & Fantasies left listeners hungry for a more extensive re-release of Ochs' material.

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