Here we are at the end of another week, and right into February we go. Enjoy these ten tracks throughout your Friday. As usual, use the orange song title links to download each track.
“Split Open and Melt” 12.7.95 II Niagara Falls, NY
One of the indisputable best “Splits” ever played, this version gets right to the core of what Fall ’95 was all about – locked-in, break-neck psychedelia. This set opening version possesses some of the most vicious improvisation you’ll ever hear, delving into the essence of “Split,” then moving right beyond any conventions. Like an oncoming locomotive, Phish absolutely crushes this piece; an archetype for all “Splits” to admire.
“Tweezer” 11.23.94 II St. Louis, MO
When Phish scheduled The Fox Theatre last summer, memories immediately shot to this ’94 highlight that took place within the same ornate building. Boasting intricate grooves, the band takes this piece on a unique path from note one. Moving into a darker medium, the band gets medieval on this version before delivering it to the gates of heaven only minutes later with a delicate, soul-tugging passage. A true classic of the era, one would be hard-pressed to find more emotive playing by Trey, and the entire band as a whole, as they coalesce into a ball of sound and light. Allowing themselves plenty of time to return from this surreal peak, the jam moves from beauty into full-on, abstract exploration before returning to the song’s theme.
“Twist” 7.29.97 II Phoenix, AZ
This early version of “Twist” goes largely unreferenced in the Phish community, a mystery I’ve yet to figure out. The engaging piece slowly progresses out of “Twist” into more twisted places, fusing groove and ambient sound-sculpting. Overshadowed by everything that followed in this peak year for Phish, this “Twist” in the first week of their US summer tour should not be forgotten.
This bombastic sequence stoked a millennial fire in the Midwest right before the sky opened at the end of the set. Potentially a harbinger of the oncoming storm, this menacing improv blew the roof off Polaris Amphitheatre moments before Trey publicly announced Big Cypress.
“Gumbo” 8.3.98 II Deer Creek, IN
An essential piece to Summer ’98’s funked out journey, this extended “Gumbo” reminds us of a time gone by. In 2o09, the band reunited this song with its original ragtime ending, obliterating any likelihood of such thick excursions. But during the band’s groove era of the late ’90s, they unveiled more than enough stretched out, rhythmic renditions to keep us going back to the videotape. Here is one of the defining versions of 1998.
A scorching piece of ’96 history that flies way under the radar, this Target Center adventure features a jam out of “Suzy” that goes to places uncharted. Trey gets on his mini-percussion kit while Page leads the jam, and then hops back on guitar with some nasty licks that brings the music into a whole new territory. As the band inched closer to the funk textures of ’97, one can hear ideas beginning to form within the slowed down, collaborative section of this jam. (The inclusion of a mini-“2001” gives us eleven songs for this Friday.)
“Mike’s” 12.4.96 II San Diego, CA
At the tail end of Fall ’96, Phish found themselves naturally moving towards groove-based playing, something that comes out in droves in the early part of this “Mike’s” jam. Trey offers a series of rhythmic offerings before launching the song’s first menacing build. This was still the time of two “Mike’s” jams, and as usual, the second is where the truest improv takes place. Shifting back to sparser patterns, Phish gets into polyrhythmic textures with heavy effects as Trey switches between his guitar and mini-kit. This version provides a healthy reminder of the type of vehicle “Mike’s” once was, and one day could be again.
“Antelope” 8.20.93 I Red Rocks, CO SBD
The band first visited Morrison’s natural amphitheatre amidst one of the tightest months of their career, August ’93. And among the many highlights of the show, this “Antelope” may have shone the brightest. Featuring impeccable communication from its intricate intro through its super-charged outro, this piece provides a poignant snapshot of Phish at their first peak of their creativity and dexterity, an unbelievably dizzying combination. This version will make most any “Antelope” from ’97 on look incredibly tame. Check it; improvisation at its best.
“YEM” 11.18.95 II Charleston, SC
This half-hour centerpiece of the second set passes through an all-out jam on The Commodores’ “Brickhouse,” on the way to a slammin’ section of “YEM” grooves. Jams like this illustrate the fact that Phish played dance grooves long before 1997 rolled around. Combining a laid-back funk appeal with a driving rhythm section, this jam brought the house down in the intimate North Charleston Coliseum.
DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:
10.13.94 University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS < Megaupload
I: Llama, Gumbo, All Things Reconsidered, Down with Disease, I Didn’t Know, Foam, Fast Enough for You, Sparkle, Stash
II: The Old Home Place, Run Like an Antelope, If I Could, It’s Ice, Amazing Grace, Mike’s Song > Simple, Mike’s Song > Yerushalayim Shel Zahav > Weekapaug Groove, Foreplay/Long Time, Cavern
Notes: This show took place in a parking lot adjacent to The Grove on the University of Mississippi campus.
Source: AKG 460b