Baja Prog: Live in Mexico '99

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In March 1999, the Polish group Quidam performed at the progressive rock festival Baja Prog in Mexico. The event was worth recording and yielded an excellent live album. Thanks to a judicious song selection, it gathers the group's best tracks from the first two studio albums, plus a few delectable surprises. In the studio, Quidam tends to over-produce. In a live setting, the sextet sounds crisper and brighter, despite a few slips from singer Emila Derkowska trying to pack too much power in her voice. Key songs like "Ptone," "Chocbym," and "Sanktuarium" from the 1996 Quidam are rendered superbly -- the latter includes the solo from Genesis' "Firth of Fifth," a graceful wink to an influence that only becomes more obvious. Of their then-current release, Sny Aniolów (Angels' Dreams), they perform the touching "Jest Taki Samotny Dom" and the single "Angels of Mine" (that one in English and including a couple of funny quotes for the Mexican audience). Two covers round up the set. Deep Purple's "Child in Time," offered as an encore, is simply too rock for Quidam's brand of neo-prog and too much to handle for Derkowska, but it provides a first-rate feature for flutist Jacek Zasada -- anyone previously unconvinced by his arrival to replace original flutist Ewa Smarzynska will have food for thought. Camel's "Rhayader/Rhayader Goes to Town" is much more convincing. If you are interested in quality "classic" prog rock from the '90s, Quidam is one of a handful of bands to check out, and Baja Prog: Live in Mexico '99 will give you the most good minutes for your buck. Available with Polish (Rock-Serwis) and English (Musea) liner notes (the only difference between the two versions).

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