Regrettably, the vast majority of banda artists will never record live albums. They want as much radio airplay as possible, and they realize that regional Mexican stations (which are quite plentiful in the southwestern part of the United States) prefer studio recordings. Why is the shortage of live banda CDs so regrettable? Because banda artists have a way of going that extra mile on-stage, and in a perfect world, there would be a lot more CDs that capture the excitement of live banda -- CDs like En Vivo, which documents a September 2003 concert in Mexico City by the long-running La Banda el Recodo. This is, of course, a post-Don Cruz Lizárraga edition of el Recodo; Lizárraga, who founded the group back in 1938, and passed away in 1995. But his sons, thankfully, have kept the banda institution going, and this 2003 edition of el Recodo is in fine form on these inspired Mexico City performances. Although some of the songs are performed alone ("Y Llegaste Tú," "El Toto Mambo" and "Cómo Pudiste"), medleys are a prominent part of the show -- and those medleys range from the tropical-influenced "Popurrí Rítmico" to the mariachi-friendly "Popurrí Bohemio." Although banda and mariachi involve different combinations of horns, the two can easily be combined with exciting results -- which is exactly what happens on "Popurrí Bohemio." When a group has been around as long as el Recodo, there is no way that a single live album is going to tell the whole story; someone is bound to wonder why his or her favorite el Recodo gem isn't performed. But el Recodo covers a fair amount of ground on En Vivo, a rewarding disc that makes us wish banda artists would do a lot more live recording.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson