Tails of the Weasel

Fee the Weasel

Fee the Weasel

Debuted in August of 1987, “Fee” is one of the oldest songs in Phish’s catalog. Played routinely since its inception, the murderous pop-saga of Fee, the Buddhist weasel, and Floyd, the chimpanzee, who vie for the affection a gospel singer, Millie Grace, fit right in with the zany vibe of early Phish. Hence, it led off the band’s first official album, Junta.  Since its beginning, “Fee” has been a fan favorite and one one of those more accessible songs – like Sample or Bouncin’ – that always drew fresh ears, ushering more than few fans into the Phish scene.

Throughout its 22 year history, the song has traditionally been played in the first set as a straight composition. But more than a couple times in their career, Phish tacked a musical tail on the end of the tale. The band seems to drop these “Fee” jams in shows that are quite memorable when the dust finally settles, with the seldom-used launchpad likening a confirmation from Phish that they feel adventurous. Often highlights as well as harbingers of bigger things ahead; below are some of these instances.

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11.19.97 Assembly Hall, Champaign, IL I

Hampton - Fall '97 (Unk)

Hampton - Fall '97 (Unk)

During their inter-galactic excursions of Fall ’97, Phish extended any song at any time, but most often they dug into their trusty toolbox of funk to do so. When this “Fee” came out, the band had already played a sublime “Bathtub Gin > Llama” and a dynamic “Limb” -both without the ’97 funk -in what was shaping up to be a solid opening frame. The band whispered out of the end of  “Fee” with a delicate pattern on which Trey repeated the faster, pre-official-song era melody of “Meatstick” on guitar. All the while, the band painted an ethereal sonic backdrop. Finally adding faint “Meatstick” lyrics in the background, the band creatively built the jam into the intro to “Antelope,” closing out a smoking set. And the second set is history.

Fee > Meatstick > Antelope

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/ph97-11-19d2t01.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/ph97-11-19d2t02.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/ph97-11-19d2t03.mp3]

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7.5.98 Lucerna Theatre, Prague, CZ I

Prague Poster '98

Prague Poster '98

In the band’s first set in Prague during the summer of ’98, they dropped a incredibly engaging “Fee” that followed a rhythmic course rather than its more typical ambient path. Extending the song into a bass-led groove, Fish got on board, complementing Mike with a sparse and percussive beat. Trey soloed over the top of this canvas as Page added effects to round out the sound. Segueing into some quintessential wah-funk, Trey also remained anchored to his established melody.  Page hopped onto piano and into the spotlight, as the band hit a collective groove far from any semblance of “Fee.” This one is a gem and is oft overlooked since the second night in Prague annihilated the first.

Fee > Water In the Sky

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/1-05-Fee-_.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/1-06-Water-In-The-Sky.mp3]

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7.8.99 Virginia Beach Amp, Va. Beach, VA I

1999-07-08moFollowing a show-opening “Julius,” Phish innocently began their old-school single. But when the time came for the ending to fade out, the band had a completely different idea. Latching onto Page’s piano patterns, they slid into a mellow outro that Trey entered with utmost care. Soon the band engaged in a gorgeous musical conversation that spawned gentle phrasing from all. But this piece wouldn’t stay in the mellow realms where it began. Instead Mike and Fish kicked up a groove and the band was off and running on a high-speed piece of transcendent improv – all while the sun still shone above.

Fee

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/1-02-Fee.mp3]

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6.7.2009 “E Centre” Camden, NJ I

6.7.09 - Camden (D.Vann)

6.7.09 - Camden (D.Vann)

In this second-song “Fee,” Phish didn’t miss a beat as they moved from its ending into a locked jam that oozed enchantment.  Getting into a spiritually ambient place with lightning quickness, the band seemed to have something in them we hadn’t seen during this summer’s first shows. As it turned out, this dreamy excursion was an early signpost pointing down the road of one of June’s hottest shows.

Fee

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/090607_S1_02_Fee.mp3]

Winged music note=====

Jam of the Day:

Runaway Jim” 8.11.98 II

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/ph98-08-11d2t3.mp3]

This multi-themed, exploratory “Jim” opened the second set of Star Lake ’98. It doesn’t get a lot of hype, though it sure has quite a bit to offer.

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

10.5.2000 Irvine Meadows, Irvine, CA < Torrent

10.5.2000 Irvine Meadows, Irvine, CA < Megaupload

2000-10-05moNine years ago today, this Irvine show represented the last before Shoreline’s two-night finale. This is also was one of two Phish shows to which I’ve been late, this time due to a friend being detained at the Tijuana border on the way back from a senseless mission. Though missing the first set, we saw the heavily-improvised second frame highlighted by “Drowned,” “Bowie,” and “Piper.” After this show we didn’t look back as we drove the last drive of the Phish tour as we knew it.

I: Chalk Dust Torture, Guyute, Wolfman’s Brother > Sneakin’ Sally through the Alley, Limb By Limb, Come On Baby, Let’s Go Downtown, Beauty of My Dreams, Axilla, Horn, Possum

II: Drowned > NICU > David Bowie, Halley’s Comet > Walk Away, Piper > Character Zero

E: While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Source: Scheops CMC6/mk41>SX-M2>AD1000  (Taper – Dave Flaschner)

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159 Responses to “Tails of the Weasel”

  1. albert walker Says:

    Mr C
    You been spinning the eno/ byrne album at all

    all this eno discussion got me to spin it this weekend
    cannot believe how cutting edge the sound of that record is

  2. Mr. Completely Says:

    the old or the new? In any case I just bought the old one. Going to spin it later after first bowl of the day. store was out of the new album

  3. Mr. Completely Says:

    I have heard it but not in years so I am looking forward to it

  4. MOonSHaKe Says:

    re: this isn’t meant as a burn or anything but when I was first listening to phish in around ‘89, all the dudes liked YEM and Divided Sky and all the girls liked Fee and Esther

    I remember this… all of my male friends would joke about not wanting to hear either Suzy Greenberg or Fee (circa 93/94)

  5. Mr. Completely Says:

    I still don’t really care for either of those tunes 😮 (tail-end jams not included, any open jam always welcome)

    Love a good Esther now though

  6. albert walker Says:

    meant the old one, dig the new one also, but the 80-81 album, whenever it came out, is just amazing

    they use phone calls, preacher speeches, television shows, and various other audio samples instead of vocals and lyrics

    also a stripped down more bass and drum version of the eno-byrne talking heads sound

    There are few records I feel anyone will enjoy, and that is one
    If you have not heard it in a while you are in for a great listen

  7. Mr. Completely Says:

    Florida peeps, Blk Jks are in your hood: Orlando, St. Aug, Gainesville

    @Lycan, they’re @ the Thirsty Hippo (hilarious name) on Saturday, if ur not working or playing…

    Then austin, phoenix, LA

    PDX peeps, anyone up for 10/19 @ Mississippi Studios? ten bucks

  8. voopa Says:

    Daivid Byrne’s The Catherine Wheel came out late in ’81 after My Life in the Bush…it’s music commissioned by Twyla Tharp for her ballet of the same name. Eno, Belew, Worrell, Jerry Harrison, using a lot of “found sounds” on this one too…tv shows, pots and pans, probably a kitchen sink too. I can’t recommend it enough. It even has a version of “What a Day That Was.”

  9. Mr. Completely Says:

    never heard that one. Eno + Belew + Bernie W = sign me up

  10. Mr. Completely Says:

    considering Belew basically treats his guitar as a found object, a natural fit…

  11. whole tour! Says:

    blk jks in st. augustine?
    might have to check that one out!

  12. Mr. Completely Says:

    Weds @ Cafe Eleven

  13. Mr.Miner Says:

    RE: Byrne /Eno “Everything That Happens…”
    all this eno discussion got me to spin it this weekend
    cannot believe how cutting edge the sound of that record is

    ^^ its like psy-gospel

  14. whole tour! Says:

    $8 for a blkjks show….only thing better than free is $8.
    hell yeah
    i’ll check it out fo sho!

  15. Mr. Completely Says:

    let me know what you think

  16. Shwillinger Says:

    Has anyone else noticed the baseline in the jam at the end of YEM and Things That Make You Go Hmmm are essentially the same? I’m sure I’m not the only one.

  17. Mr.Miner Says:

    “of a week spent at the beach smoking opium and drinking tequila – a very high level of semi paralyzed derangement, where the mind conjures up one debauched idea after another but the coordination’s not there to put many of them into effect…”

    ^^ wow. great decription of how I felt on 7/4/98 in Prague on the day before the shows!!

  18. whole tour! Says:

    peter gabriel “go” – just got an arrow!

  19. Mr. Completely Says:

    @aw another thought I had re: Bowie is how un-copyable his sound is. You can rip off the Stones, Pink Floyd, Neil Young etc etc etc and even make decent music doing so but has anyone ever really copied Bowie at all? I can’t think of anything…

  20. Mr.Miner Says:

    I was just at the gym and listened to Ziggy Stardust start to finish. They should do this album. Period. End of discussion.

    “Everything was alright, the band was all together….”

  21. Mr.Miner Says:

    perfect combo of everything, and Phish is like Ziggy coming to save the world 🙂

  22. whole tour! Says:

    nirvana did “man who sold the world” on their unplugged album.
    They also played 3 meatpuppets songs.

  23. Mr. Completely Says:

    yeah I thought that memory might strike a chord here

    I have a topper opium story wise though:

    some friends were growing poppies several years ago, kind of as a lark, hacked together some opium

    after a couple weeks of smoking it they all got bored and put a big (maybe 2″) ball of it in the freezer…so Big C comes home early one morning hung over and still tripping a little. A little O would hit the spot. So he pops it in the microwave and hits defrost – its frozen, remember…

    …and then falls asleep. The microwave was one of those old ones with a dial, you know, just crank it up…

    I can’t believe he woke up when the smoke alarm went off. The house was filled floor to ceiling with opium smoke, it rolled out the windows and down the street…like billows of it wafting down the block…and a cop lived just down the street

    by some miracle no one was home there, and no other neighbors called the fire department…

  24. whole tour! Says:

    i like to hear phish do the john lennon written bowie tune “fame”

  25. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Miner listening to Ziggy for like the 5th time in a week right now

    agree it has everything

    it’s probably top on my list for both “they might actually do it” and “it’s awesome”

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