We gave it an A
When that beast depression rears its ugly head, you can respond either by putting up your dukes or giving in. Or, even worse, you end up somewhere in between — the point at which you look the beast in the eye and realize it is real and strong and can fight back. There and Now catches politico-folkie Phil Ochs at that precise point, making this previously unreleased live recording more than just a barrel-scraping cash-in. It would be eight more years before Ochs took his own life, but at this ’68 peace festival the seeds of self-devastation had been sown. Still recovering from the spirit-shattering debacle of the Chicago Democratic convention, Ochs nonetheless delivers a stirring performance, mixing songs from his early protest era (”I Ain’t Marching Anymore”) with his later paeans to disillusionment (”The Doll House”). To Ochs’ credit, his antiwar songs sound eerily contemporary; gung ho gulf war hawks should be forced to hear the biting ”I Kill Therefore I Am.” Along the way, Ochs forgets a few lyrics and tries to communicate his despair to strangers: ”I wrote these songs when I was but a kid, walking through the American wilderness,” he sighs before launching into a vibrant ”Outside of a Small Circle of Friends,” his near hit about societal indifference. There and Now is a perfect introduction to Ochs’ mix of sardonic commentary and wide-eyed idealism. But it’s also a gripping document of a man at the crossroads of being and nothingness, trying to decide which path to take.