Casualties Of This Era

8.5.10 (Wendy Rogell)

Though Phish’s modern era has brought us new jam vehicles in “Light” and “Number Line,” it has also seen several fade away. Aside from the well-documented castration of “Mike’s Song,” three other crowd-favorites have completely lost their sense of adventure—”Halley’s Comet,” “Gumbo” and “Free.” The former two have returned to their pre-1997 form, while the latter has inexplicably shrunk into a Phish single. Because of its history, I think “Free” still has a chance to bust out, but, it feels like “Halley’s and “Gumbo” jams may be gone forever.

8.10.10 (G. Lucas)

Both “Halley’s Comet” and “Gumbo” improvisational jaunts were byproducts of the late-’90s era of groove and band’s post-hiatus “we’ll jam anything” policy. But when comparing current versions of these songs to the first decade plus of their lives, they look exactly the same. “Halley’s” was traditionally a four-minute launchpad into larger musical happenings, and “Gumbo,” until 1997, featured the same ragtime ending that closes the piece today. Thus, it seems that their improvisational gravestone will read “1997 – 2004.” But what a run it was. Both songs blossomed with The Cowfunk Revolution of ’97 and hosted stellar adventures for six years before appearing in 2009 as their retro selves. The only out-of-the-ordinary version of either song came in June ’09, at the anti-climactic Fox show, when Phish opened the second set with an extended, but straight-forward, “Halley’s Comet.”

“Free” is another case all together. There is really no logical explanation for its compact modern shape. Moving from Mike’s bass solo right into the closing chords of the former jam, the band has put nothing whatsoever into this song since they have come back. During the song’s early years of ’95 and ’96, Page took charge of its soupy psychedelia with strong piano leads while Trey often jumped to percussion. Though some versions of the song grew significant (see 6.26.95 as a prime example), more often than not, the jam didn’t reach highlight-reel territory. Nonetheless, there was always a jam.

10.12.10 - Broomfield (B.Perry)

And then in 1997, the year “Halley’s” and “Gumbo” sprang to life, the same rhythmic shift turned “Free” into a vehicle for thunderous funk throwdowns. Between the years of ’97 and ’04, the beginning of “Free” sparked wide-eyed anticipation from the audience as they waiting for Mike’s bass solo to dissolve into another world. Trey would swoop in with an idea and the band would take off amidst a thick joyride that always pumped a show full of energy. But since 2009, there has been no semblance of a jam. Refusing to let the song breathe at all, Trey has smothered the piece for no apparent reason. Sometimes used tactfully as a landing pad for deeper exploration, “Free’s” place in the setlist has also been obtrusive in this era, often appearing in the second set and breaking up the flow as a stand-alone rock song. On New Year’s Eve, Trey decided to vamp over the funk for approximately 12 seconds before taking a left turn back into the chorus. But just for that moment, it was clear that Phish could blow the roof off with the song at any minute, and the I believe that the version we’ve been waiting for is coming this year.

Hopefully I’m wrong about “Halley’s” and “Gumbo,” and 2011 will bring the return of all three of these former show stoppers, but if we get one out of three, it will be a success.


Jam of the Day:

Tube” 9.15.00 II

Though I doubt the band will ever reach the length of this Hershey version again, while we are on the topic of songs that could use some loving, how ’bout a longer “Tube?”




5.3.1991 Somerville Theatre, Somerville, Massachusetts SBD

Mp3 Torrent, Megaupload < Links

Sticking with the old-school theme, here is another soundboard from back in the day.

I: Bouncing Around the Room, Foam, Chalk Dust Torture, TMWSIY > Avenu Malkenu > TMWSIY, The Divided Sky, Fee, Paul and Silas, Tweezer, The Lizards, Sweet Adeline

II: AC/DC Bag, The Curtain > Sloth, Landlady, Runaway Jim, Tela, You Enjoy Myself, Harpua, Tweezer Reprise

E: Take the ‘A’ Train > BBFCFM

Source: SBD

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749 Responses to “Casualties Of This Era”

  1. brother Says:

    @Palmer….i am a big east guy as my team plays in it (Cincy). The big east is by far the best conference in bball. not even close. it is dominated by the best coaches in the game (Pitino, Calhoun, Boeheim, Huggins, on and on) who all have several things in common, they recruit those big athletic players and mix a few skilled players in, and they all are defensive genius’s. The upper echelon teams are always amoungst the best teams in the country, and middle to lower teams can still beat teams from other conferences because they aren’t used to the size, athleticism and defensive pressure that the teams in the big east see game after game. However, the quality as a viewer or fan suffers because the average big east game features little fluid offense, low shooting percentages, and lots of turnovers. Lots of points off offensive boards and wild shots. Buckeyes have skill at every position and are as big and physical as almost any team. And play as hard on D as any team. Lots of good shooters, slashers, they pass crisply, just no real weakness as i see it. Haven’t really seen Texas play, heard they’re good. Kansas is very good.

  2. EL Duderino Says:

    plord leading the pack

  3. plord Says:

    You know, I haven’t spun the Phriends in years. Time for more of that.

  4. AintNoTele Says:

    I know this is late in the game, but must be said:

    With the new turn towards staccato funk, it is highly possible that gumbo could get a good jam in the future, same with free. It is as if the two tunes are perfectly poised for this new turbo-funk. My hopes at least…

  5. gratefulcub Says:

    “Oh, and I’m 42 today. Wooooooooo”

    Congrats on another successful trip around the sun.

    42 sounded extremely old until I pulled out a calculator and figured out how old I am. You are a spring chicken I tell ya.

  6. Mike in Austin Says:

    Happy b’day.

  7. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    happy b-day, plord!
    42 is a great number to be.

  8. butterflyeffect Says:

    big ups Plord

    my sis hit 42 in sept., best year of anyone’s life

  9. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Plord – congrats, you are the answer to life, the universe, and everything.

  10. Mike in Austin Says:

    After an embarrassing March last year, I think Texas ends up in the final four this year. They have the depth and size. Hamilton is the real deal.

  11. lastwaltzer Says:

    ““lw is a parrot on AW’s shoulder. llfa”-Palmer pg 18


    could be worse, could be the monkey on his back 😉

  12. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Happy b-day plord.

    Griffin vs. Amare tonight. Should be a good matchup. Can’t believe Amare is only 28. thought he was older. He’s been great this year. Seldom do these guys exceed expectations, especially in NY.

  13. fatbastard Says:

    nice joke miner

  14. lastwaltzer Says:

    Happy Birthday P-Lord!

  15. KWL Says:

    my sbd of 7-29-03 sounds like shit – this means i do not have the kevorkian remaster, right?

    hopping on 2-28-03 remaster now… interested to see how it compares to the aud i’ve always had, which i love

    can anyone out there seed the 7-29 kev?

    p.s. fuck off lw

  16. brother Says:

    and as far as quality of play (or being almost unwatchable), it is terrible in college now compared to the 90s when many great players were still staying 3 or 4 years. Most of the good teams in college back then were all made up of junior and seniors. Now, what player worth a damn stays more than a year? A lot of it has to do with how high school and AAU programs are run, coached, etc also. Overall play is much more sloppy these days, at least in my opion. However the quality of the NBA is thru the roof right now. If you are not watching you are really missin out. Lots of great teams out there with 2 or 3 superstar players and great role players. Even a team as bad as Minnesota has a fun player to watch like Kevin Love (Clippers=Blake MF Griffin!). And if this trade with Melo to the Knicks will hurry up and get done (it will) then look the F out in the east…..Heat, Celtics, Bulls, Magic (barely), and Knicks will all be legit title contenders.

  17. kayatosh Says:

    4.17.99 phil and friends – my favorite things (instrumental) — $$$.

  18. brizz Says:

    I was just listening to the version of Tube from the show on the first. I than listened to the version that you posted. I realized in doing this that there is a HUGE different between the two crowds. At MSG there was a stong and loud sing a long with Trey and you could barely hear him performing. At the Hershey Park show it was silent you could you hear everything perfectly no one singing along with the band. Maybe the change in crowd and the amount of time that has gone and all the changes within that time are why these Jams don’t hold what they used to.

  19. poop goblin Says:

    no doubt Kaya

    Trey’s subtle comping behind Kimock’s buttery leads are some of my favorite moments from the run

    epic stuff

  20. EL Duderino Says:

    or the buffalo behind his back… 😉

  21. Selector J Says:

    oh yea, @lw. Your avatar reminded me of something. A long time ago you asked about some reggae to check out and I did a complete fail. This is one that I should have recommended to you without hesitation:

    Revolutionaries – self-titled
    It’s a bona fide classic, too.

  22. EL Duderino Says:

    D. Rose -vs- Deron Williams (Illini) tonight in Utah

    pre-allstar matchup

  23. Chuck sweD Says:

    or the possum in his pocket…

  24. KWL Says:

    just goes to show ya…

    the nba is unwatchable until playoffs (and even then…)

    and mike’s has done nothing legit in 3.0

    at least we can all agree on one thing: swe

  25. EL Duderino Says:

    or a gun slinging parrot

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