Tape from California

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Tape from California
Studio album by Phil Ochs
Released July 1968
Recorded early 1968
Genre Folk, Rock, Pop
Length 46:55
Label A&M
Producer Larry Marks
Phil Ochs chronology
Pleasures of the Harbor
Tape from California
Rehearsals for Retirement

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.


Responses to this challenging recording have been varied, but there is general appreciation for Ochs' preoccupation with the tragedies of history and fate, viewed through a satiric lens.[1] The album's lyrics and musical flavor flicker between the manic and a Heracletian despondency, sometimes in the same song. "Half a Century High," a portrait of haunting by televisual media, works as a proto-Cyberpunk document, foreshadowing such bleak futures as The Firesign Theatre's I Think We're All Bozos on This Bus and Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys. "The Harder They Fall" is, to put it mildly, the ultimate song of Innocence and Experience, using popular nursery rhymes as a vehicle for highlighting some of the more unsavory fruits of human endeavor. The much-discussed "When in Rome" - at 13+ minutes - is a historic journey through a nation committed to reenacting horror and infamy on an ever-widening scale. These excursions are tempered by the equally bracing straight narration of "Joe Hill" and the elegiac resign of "Floods of Florence."

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Rolling Stone negative [2]
Allmusic 3/5 stars [3]

Track listing[edit]

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. "Floods of Florence" – 4:52



  1. ^ The New Rolling Stone Album Guide, ed. Nathan Brackett, p. 599 (Fireside Press: 2004).
  2. ^ Schmidt, Arthur (28 September 1968). "Tape From California". Rolling Stone. 
  3. ^ "Tape from California > Review". Allmusic. Retrieved December 15, 2011.