Ryba Nebo Pták (Nebo Jiné Zvíre)

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Jakub Noha celebrated the 20th anniversary of his family-centered band with this live album, his first record since 1997's Na Prahu!. He is still a skilled live performer, but professionalism takes the lead over true excitement and so the music remains somewhat non-involving -- honest, well-performed and recorded, but a bit cold. It is disappointing, especially since Noha's brand of bluesy folk-rock could give way to intense emotions. The combined influences of Bob Dylan, the Byrds, Neil Young, Jimi Hendrix and Jaroslav Jeronym Neduha's Extempore are detectable in every turn of the singer-guitarist's inspiration. Some songs, like "Motylí Hra," are very well written and, if they were performed with more passion, could turn into quite gripping moments. The fact that Noha relies on a declamatory singing style instead of well-honed melodies doesn't help. As it stands, Ryba Nebo Pták (Nebo Jiné Zvíre) -- which translates to "Fish or Bird (Or Any Other Animal)" -- becomes tiresome well before the end of its 78 minutes. Occasionally, Petr Bublák kicks into a promising guitar solo that never gets a chance to lift off. Highlights include the title track, "Vís To?" and the oddly Pink Floyd-esque "Pripomínás Dést'" (the latter was the group's first single back in 1982). If you can't understand the Czech lyrics, there is not much here that has a chance to grab your attention.

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