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With great sound and better playing, Phish's debut Junta is highly recommended whether you're starting to discover Phish or are backing up to the beginning. It may be a bit long-winded and unfocused, yet it establishes their dedication to musical exploration effectively -- not to mention the typical wild and woolly Phish humor spilling out all over the lengthy tracks. [A 2-CD Elektra reissue features six bonus tracks, including three recorded live in 1988 at Nectar's (the club that gave Phish their start with a regular gig). The live tracks are somewhat dubious in sonic terms, but they're excellent for revealing the improvisational side of the band -- the 25:31 "Union Federal" totters to a start and has a couple of wobbly moments, but it's actually fun to listen to.]

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