By most accounts, 1973 was not a good time for Phil Ochs; it had been three years since his last album arrived to indifferent reviews and dismal sales, and his drinking and creative lethargy took a heavy toll as the great protest singer of the '60s was trying to find a new voice in the '70s. But you wouldn't guess any of that to listen to this recording of Ochs playing a club date that year in the Midwest; Live Again! captures Ochs on a night when he was in good voice and good spirits, playing songs from his catalog for an audience clearly happy to be hearing them. While there are a few songs from Ochs' later albums, including "Pretty Smart on My Part" and "Chord of Fame," for the most part this set is devoted to material from his years as a "singing journalist," and he performs "I Ain't Marching Anymore," "Santo Domingo," and "Outside of a Small Circle of Friends" with genuine commitment and strength. Significantly, the biggest hand of the night goes to "Here's to the State of Richard Nixon," a then-topical rewrite of "Here's to the State of Mississippi," preceded by a fiery speech from Ochs calling for the president's impeachment that brings the crowd to their feet. The show took place at the Stables, a folk and blues club near the campus of Michigan State University, and it's likely Ochs was playing for a crowd of old college-town lefties, but they were clearly happy to see the folk icon up close and personal, and Live Again! makes it clear Ochs was not a spent force as a performer. This concert was also recorded at a fortuitous time; later in the year, Ochs would be mugged during a visit to Africa, causing his vocal cords to be damaged and sending him on a downward spiral that would end with his suicide in 1976. Live Again! documents Ochs at one of the last shows where he was performing at full power. While this concert had circulated before as a bootleg; this edition from Rockbeat features subtly cleaned-up audio and a bonus track from a Chicago show a year later, allowing listeners to hear how the mugging has changed Ochs' voice.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming