In Blissful Company

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While it's easy to dismiss Quintessence's first album, In Blissful Company, as hippie-dippy nonsense, that would be throwing the baby out with the bath water. Granted, there are several moments when the mix of jazz-rock and Indian influence go well over the top, as on "Ganaga Mai," and no one is going to mistake these guys for, say, Shakti. But they were still far ahead of their time, if you consider this from more of a world music perspective. And there's pleasure to be had from "Notting Hill" (in both versions -- the CD appends the very different single version, plus the non-album B-side, "Move Into the Light"). There's no doubt they believed in what they were doing, and lead guitarist Alan Mostert does add some stirring lines into the mix under Raja Ram's vocals and flute. It's certainly pleasant, progressive in its own way, and while there's a certain sloppiness and muddiness to much of the playing (in best hippie fashion), that actually adds to its appeal in a perverse way. They did develop over the course of four more albums, but never became a major attraction, and in some regards this remains a high point.

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