No Brainers

Discussion, critique, and debate around their music has been, and will always be, a constant in Phish’s fan base.  Everyone has their own take on things, and we all often go to lengths to legitimize our opinions.  Many post-show decompression sessions were spent listening to Phish and talking about it.  With music addictive as any drug I’ve known, Phish’s acrobatics often spring-boarded folks deep into Phish talk.

2As fun as it is to debate until the sun came up, often times enjoyment came in agreement.  As much as Phish’s music spurns debate, it often crushes disagreement as well.  Sometimes Phish played so well, they literally jammed away any subjectivity.  Nobody is gonna’ argue nuances with the Nassau Roses, and no one’s gonna’ step to the Radio City Ghost or the Salem Tweezer.  You won’t find a fan that will pick a bone with Hampton’s Halley’s or the Albany YEM– sometimes the argument is over before it begins.

To honor these peace-making versions, I put together a compilation of  “No Brainers”– versions that need no discussion.  There are obviously many “no brainer” versions of every song, and this time around I chose one of each; next time, another.  Welcome to Miner’s Picks: No Brainers Vol. I!



3.1.03 (Staunchy)

More than any song, one could pick a hundred versions of YEM to include in such a compilation.  Yet, today, I chose one of my personal favorites that I’m sure many will rank highly as well.  In this set closing smoker at MSG, there is nary a wasted note or misdirected phrase throughout an exciting excursion.  In what I have often called a perfect version of the song, the band’s ’98 style is on full display in one of their favorite homes.

TWEEZER > IZABELLA: 12.6.97 Auburn Hills, MI

Although I often tout this segment, there are clear reason for its accolades.  Possibly the most transcendent jam of Fall ’97, this throw-down at The Palace remains an all-time highlight to this day.  Combining their larger-than-life dance funk with an exploration into the heart of the universe, I’ve never met a person who doesn’t love this entire set.  In a fall tour that took on a life of its own, this “Tweezer” may be the pinnacle.

WOLFMAN’S > SIMPLE: 8.16.97 Limestone, ME

The Great Went (Ned Beebe)

The Great Went (Ned Beebe)

In one of the weekend’s defining portions of improv, these two jams combine to illustrate the diversity of Phish’s music.  In their first trip to the magical site of Limestone, Phish tore apart the most developed Wolfman’s to date to open The Great Went’s second set.  With the beats oozing loudly from the speaker towers and bellowing across the land, we were witnesses to Limestone’s first epic jam.  Flowing with the confidence at the peak of two-month summer tour, Phish sculpted a masterful musical marble.  Surprising us with “Simple” when we least expected it, Trey went on to take one of the most poignant solos of the summer.

HARRY HOOD: 12.30.95 MSG

In what is some of the most powerful music ever produced by the band, this version holds a special version in my soul.  With Trey, Mike and Page building the music as if connected, the emotional quality of this jam’s harmony and melody are unparalleled.  Adding Fish’s work, this version possesses a driving urgency that meshes beautifully with the delicate textures of life.  A passage of music that defines the spiritual and emotional nature of Phish’s world, this version changed my perspective on life forever.  After many years, it has been fun meeting so many others who had similarly powerful experiences during these magical moments at MSG.

BATHTUB GIN: 8.17.97 Limestone, ME

204Coming out of an giant “Down With Disease,” the Went Gin  saw the band and 80,000 fans simultaneously have a peak musical experience.  A piece of music that has come to define the energetic interchange between Phish and their fans, this jam was a cathartic release at the end of an epic summer, celebrating all that the Phish community represented.  One of those out-of body experiences where all were enveloped by the hugeness of what was transpiring, egos fell by the wayside as everyone became lost in Phish’s wild wonderland.

GHOST > SLAVE: 7.4.99 Lakewood

A pairing of incredibly divergent songs resulted in one of the most sublime transitions of the band’s 20+ years and a July 4th memory to last a lifetime.  Another jam that enraptured all in attendance, the music took over the pavilion as the deep bass of Ghost ballooned from the speakers.  A version that stands out in a summer full of belligerent Ghosts, its pairing with Phish’s most regal piece made the jam that much stronger.  The Slave is another time where everything came together at one place at one time– for everyone.

MIKE’S SONG: 12.31.95, MSG

photo -  Austin

photo - Austin

This jam was the centerpiece of one of Phish’s most renowned shows.  Closing the second set, one of the greatest incarnations of the song ever played made a militant futuristic dance hall out of the Garden.  Hallowed as one of the band’s finest nights of their career, this Mike’s is one of the reasons why.  As the second jam kicks in, look out for some serious ninja Phish crack.  No joking around here, this is what its all about.  By the end of the jam, Trey was silhouetted on stage creating a digital delay loop that would continue as he left the stage, awaiting 1996.

2001: 7.17.98 The Gorge

How can you go wrong with a twenty-five minute wide-open exploration of dance grooves in front of the Columbia River Gorge?  On this memorable night, Phish took this version deep into the dark night sky, stopping by stars and planets in their musical orbit.  An experiential delight, and a segment of music you could listen to forever, “The Gorge 2001” has become a term unto its own.

REBA: 7.6.94 Montreal, QC

powerWith the plethora of ridiculous Reba’s played within this year, the conversation always comes back to this version from Montreal.  Taking the driving music to another level of triumphant groove, this version features improv not often heard in your every day “Reba.”  Yet, just at the peak of said section, the band splashes blissfully back into the classic Reba jam.  This is one among many, in a year with copious no brainer versions of the song.

Enjoy these all-time highlights, and share your own in comments below!  Be on the look out for “No Brainers Volume II,” due out soon.




Below are pictures of the Ross Compressor that Phantasy Tour had engraved for Trey.  The quote comes from “Walls of the Cave,” and seems to imply no pressure to change back to his old tone, but “When the moment comes…”  Very clever. Well played PT!


Tom Marshall will be hand delivering the pedal to Trey’s house this morning, in time for Christmas!



  • rumor3 nights at the Pepsi Center in Denver in mid-April
  • Further confirmation of 4 nights at Red Rocks on July 29 – August 2nd
  • June 4 @ Jones Beach (seems solid)
  • 2 nights in Camden in mid -June



7.20.91 Arrowhead Ranch, Parksville, NY < LINK

phish_tnailThis is the first show of a classic two night stand with the Giant Country Horns back in the Summer of ’91.  The next night was a show almost every fan had on analog, and this one paved the way.  This one comes as a holiday request, so “Ho! Ho! Ho!,” and enjoy!

I: Chalk Dust Torture, Foam, The Squirming Coil, Llama, Oh Kee Pa Ceremony > Suzy Greenberg, The Landlady, Bathtub Gin, My Sweet One, David Bowie

II: Buried Alive, Reba, Caravan, Dinner and a Movie, Flat Fee, Golgi Apparatus, Stash, TMWSIY > Avenu Malkenu > TMWSIY, You Enjoy Myself, Rocky Top

E: Possum

With The Giant Country Horns.

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25 Responses to “No Brainers”

  1. Matso Says:

    I know we’re not supposed to argue about these picks, but the only thing I take issue with is that 7.6.94 was in Montreal, not Toronto! 😉

    Great selection and thanks for putting the Great Went Simple in front of us again – that is some seriously inspired playing. Looking back, that whole weekend had so much insanely good music, borne out by the fact that you’ve also got the Bathtub up here and have previously highlighted the Halleys->Cities.

  2. Asher Says:

    100 % in agreement that the Nassau 4-3-98 Roses needs no debate at all.
    How about the 12-30-97 BAG. I’ve recently been reacquainted with that masterpiece as I’m sure many folks have been thanks to the fantastic Live Phish release. It’s got to be up there. Personally Nassau Roses is #1 but the MSG 97 Bag is a close #2.

    Some other under the radar, seldom heralded but totally worth consideration personal faves (The criteria being that these live versions left me breathless, in tears or a combination of both):
    Grand Rapid 11-11-98 Halley’s
    Boise 9-14-99 Bag>Gumbo
    Portland, ME 12-8-99 Piper
    Camden 7-3-00 Jim

  3. AbePhroman Says:

    I’ll tell you what Miner, I like that summer tour rumor mill. Early east coast leg, later west coast leg. Sounds plausible and enjoyable.

  4. AbePhroman Says:

    Oh and 9/17/00 Theme>Dog Log, no arguments there. I was gonna say the Gin from 6/28/00 but people pick a bone with that one. I think the jam at the 12 min mark is off the hook.

  5. Jeff Says:

    I know this is crazy, but that Went Gin seems to be a bit overhyped. (gasp) I know. It is an excellent version, but I think it might be one of those “you had to be there” versions to really get “it”. Not to poo poo this list becasue it’s awesome.

    I wish that segment of My Friend>My Left Toe>Whipping Post would make these type of lists because that along with the Real Gin were the two pinnacles of my Phish experiences.

  6. Scott Bernstein Says:

    I think the Went Gin is all about the three minute butter jam that was about the most blissful Phish segments ever. Trey and Mike took the dark Gin jam and went somewhere gloriously bright with it.

  7. Zigggy Says:

    I am with Jeff, that My Friend > Left Toe > Whipping Post was one of the magical moments of my life. The build into and then a scorching hot Whipping Post was the only time I was caught completely off guard and hit upside the head with pure genius. That does not get enough attention in my book.

    Thank you Mr Miner for all that you do and all that you are bout.

  8. Vermont Says:

    I think it’s hilarious that PT is having Tom deliver the Ross to trey! Nearly had me on the floor with joy, but I think trey should probably go back to the analogman compROSSer that he eventually switched to before he dropped compression from his rig. check out analogmans website for more info on their compressors:

    ^^trey also uses they modded tub screamers which sound incredible(the warmest tone I’ve ever heard from a TS)

    thanks for the music Mr. Miner, I always love your picks, even more than Dick’s 😉

  9. guyforget Says:

    AbePhroman – I agree with you 110%, the 6/28/00 Gin was the most energy packed moment i’ve experienced live and still throw that one on often when i need 17 minutes of me time….

  10. Coleman Says:

    @ Asher – I too cannot stop listening to the 12.30.97 Bag. No matter where I am or what I’m doing, I ALWAYS stop for Mike’s lick at 5:45. I can always pick it out and I never miss it. That’s a rare lick, IMO, especially for a bass lick. It jumps right out of the subwoofer, grabs me by the collar and says “LISTEN TO ME!!!”

  11. R1 Says:

    I’ve been listening to 12.30.97 Bag all morning b/c of all the talk and realize I sorta forgot how much I love it. I mean those unforgettable Trey lines at 7:40 – where it sorta sounds like he’s squeezing two strings together – always just kill me. They were just so unique. I think Page’s playing about a minute earlier, at around 6:50 sorta queued Trey up for them. Does anyone know what Trey does to achieve that sound and can anyone think of other examples of it?

  12. R1 Says:

    Oh, and good call Coleman – love that shit.

  13. gills Says:

    hey yall remember the live phish release of denver 97. that tweezer and ghost are phunktastic. nobody really talks about that ditty to much. if im not mistaken thereis a rediculous simple where trey is just burstin with energy and he has no choice but to let it out… that entire show is just phire..
    give it another listen, it will be stuck in your cd player for a week guarenteed.
    Merry Christmas to all

  14. R1 Says:

    gills – that show gets MAD props. Seems to get talked about all the time. But regardless, that Tweezer is probably my single favorite jam ever. It holds an immensely special position in my heart. It lit in a fire in me. I first heard it while living away from the US and it changed me. Wish I had chosen a different time to leave the country!

  15. Jerrydamule Says:

    11.29.97 Runaway Jim. Sick stuff. I remember always referring back to it with my tour mates as the one where Jim ran away, and just kept on running.

    oh, and I am one hondo percent in agreement with 12.30.97… complete fuego! I found it interesting to hear the General of Jam concede that 12.30.97 II is his favorite set of the phish, ever.

  16. Al Says:

    Folks – here something to write down for ya!!! (No Brainers):
    Atlanta 97/23/07 GHOST, Boise 99/14/09 AC/DC Bag, Cincinnati 99/03/12 Limb by Limb, Pittsburgh 96/18/10 MAZE, Deer Creek 95/19/06 REBA, Philadelphia 96/29/12 YEM: That’s IT – the rest is on Mr. Miner’s list already;-)

  17. gills Says:

    R1, me the same if i was on an island with only one show that would be the one i would bring, that tweezer is straight fire, when i first got that show it was in my player for a long time, many long strange nights with with that one. MINOR that went Gin is my personal favorite, my opinion your best pick…….. how about giving us the rest of the Went SBD.
    I am a SBD junkie…..

  18. Bill Says:

    All of the Went SBDs can be found right here

    Tons of SBDs for the junkies out there.

  19. Read Icculus Says:

    Good stuff!
    Ross Compressor go!
    Energy building……

  20. Rosin Says:

    12/11/99 is the best 2001 ever. None other can compare. The Went Gin is over rated, the best is from PNC in 99.

  21. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^^ Champaign ’97’s 2001 would say otherwise, and I do believe you are talking about the Gin from ’00? This post was not about “best” versions, simply consensus great jams.

  22. lanser Says:

    lol^ TOUR!!!

  23. Matso Says:

    @ R1 – regarding that part of the 12/30 Bag at 7:40, that’s not Trey, it’s Page. He’s playing the clavinet through a wah pedal and bending the notes. If you listen, at 7:56-8:01, Trey starts strumming a new pattern while the twangy stuff is still going on, so it’s not just a case of the staccatto riff having been on a loop (this keeps going to until at least 8:24). You can sort of make this out in the video from Live Phish, but I saw it with my own two eyes and was blown away at the time.

  24. Rosin Says:

    00′, yes correct. I always get those 4 PNC show dates mixed up between 99′ – 00′. Taste -> Gin was some of the best jamming I’ve heard.

  25. Todd Says:

    I love that Gorge show – cannot wait to go back. BTW – Montreal is in PQ (Quebec) not ON (Ontario)

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