The All-Star Songs of 2011

12.30.2011 (Joe Iudice)

All “Type II” First Team

“Rock and Roll”—With several top-shelf versions last year, “Rock and Roll” is the unquestionable choice for MVP of 2011. When the band wasn’t crafting timeless pieces of music out of the jam—a la Gorge, Mansfield, or Charlotte—they were usually pushing the envelope with experimental playing—a la Merriweather and MSG. Hands down, the launchpad of the year.

“Light”—For the duration of its short life as a Phish song, “Light” has been a vehicle for cosmic improvisation. First the jam brought mostly ambient experiments, and then in Fall 2010, the band began to take the piece into the realm of quickened groove. This year, the band used their modern era jam to explore futuristic soundscapes that often showcased Mike’s lead bass playing. Phish focused more on this song as the year progressed, coming to life in Portsmouth and Super Ball before breaking sonic barriers in Lake Tahoe and UIC. Capping its year with Denver’s “Light -> Disease” Reprise” and a New Year’s Eve Theremin jam, “Light” remained in the upper echelon of jam vehicles.

“Down With Disease”—Between Clarkston’s “A Disease Supreme,” UIC’s extended jaunt, and many other versions in between, “Disease” has become “Old Reliable” for modern day Phish. Almost always moving into original ground and pushing the band far outside the box, “Disease” had yet another standout year in 2011.

“Piper”—A staple jam vehicle of post-hiatus and the modern era, “Piper” starred, once again, in 2011, taking the band into uncharted territory time and time again. Highlighted by Denver and MSG’s versions, “Piper” also had strong outings at the Hollywood Bowl, Super Ball, Raleigh and Merriweather, as the band created a diverse spectrum of jams.

“Waves”—A song that was a staple of the post-hiatus era came back in 2011 with a vengeance. After being played only three times in 2009, the song skipped 2010 altogether, and came back with strong last year. Although the band only played the song four times, three of them were incredibly memorable. Between its outings at Bethel, Super Ball, and UIC—all summer highlights—“Waves” got back on the train with some profound renditions in 2011.

*****

All “Type I” First Team

“Sand”—Just about ever time Phish played “Sand” last year, it ballooned into a show highlight. Having transformed into a whole-band jam during the fall of 2010, the song exemplified this paradigm shift last summer with intricate four-part conversations. If there was a Type I MVP, “Sand” would no doubt take home the trophy. Every time one heard those opening chords, a furious dance session was sure to follow

“Harry Hood”—The final “Harry Hood” of 2010—Worcester’s instant classic—set the bar high for the band’s classic song in 2011. And while the guys didn’t replicate such a monumental version in 2011, they played more than a few above-average versions. Trey began to integrate the stacatto stylings of Worcester’s version into several “Hoods” this year, including a standout renditions at UIC and the version of the year in Denver. But every time played, “Hood” seemed to carry a little something extra in 2011, beginning with its very first performance of the year in Bethel, NY.

“Chalk Dust Torture”—From Clarkston’s first-set-ending version to Tahoe’s mid-second-set shredder and from UIC’s aggressive jam to MSG’s surreal dissolve into “Hydrogen,” Phish actually used “Chalk Dust” creatively last year rather than treating it as a straightforward single. This old-school staple produced more than a few well-played surprises throughout the year, earning a place on this list.

“Crosseyed and Painless”—Though Phish hasn’t taken “Crosseyed” off the map since Red Rock’s in ’09, Phish has consistently crushed the Taking Heads’ cover. Annihilating the song’s infectious composed jam on many occasions this year, “Crosseyed” became a regular part of the bands’ rotation and a reliable piece of high octane rock and roll every time out of the gate.

“Bathtub Gin”—Including highlight versions to start the year in Bethel and to end the year in Denver, “Bathtub Gin” brought plenty of fire throughout 2011. Consistently cathartic jams stemmed from “Bathtub,” and though most stayed within structure, almost every version provided a jolt of energy to its show. Often coming at the beginning shows in 2011, “Gin” never failed to get things started and feet moving during first sets last year. Other standout versions include Super Ball’s, from the festivals opening set, and The Gorge’s, which sparked the second leg of summer.

MVP: “Rock and Roll”

COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR: “Waves”

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: “Steam”

=====

Jams of the Day:

Chalk Dust Torture” 8.16.11 I, UIC

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Sand” 6.11.11 I, MPP

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646 Responses to “The All-Star Songs of 2011”

  1. Roberto luongo Says:

    First fat apollo episode
    Abortion episode
    Herb puffin episode

    Those are my favs. And the attempted Cylon rape episode.

  2. Roberto luongo Says:

    First fat apollo episode
    Abortion episode
    Herb puffin episode

    Those are my favs. And the attempted Cylon rape episode.

  3. SillyWilly Says:

    no doubt a fun ride, sumo

    we watched the whole thing in like 6 weeks two falls ago

    some long nights twisting and turning

  4. Roberto luongo Says:

    I must have gotten the non intelligent edition.

    I’m watching 90210 in space with uglier chicks

  5. SillyWilly Says:

    i had this fight with my roommates

    nothing high-minded about battlestar in my opinion. at least nothing high-minded that they effectively achieved. but let’s not go there as Roberto is still watching.

    my roommates got pissed when i took that approach.

    but i’ll stand by it.

    entertaining. nothing more, nothing less.

  6. Roberto luongo Says:

    Was def sold as serious art by the Ohio born trader at work

  7. halcyon Says:

    Hitler reacts to SOPA

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=uvXo4sGB7zM

  8. Rudy Van Gelder Says:

    Gaius Baltar and Gaeta were both interesting characters, but thought the series was plagued by bad acting (Lee Adama) and poorly conceived plot twists.

    Chicken Shack was an interesting cover choice for Phish. Listened back to the version i caught in Albany 2000 and Trey takes a majority of the solos, and page plays the baby grand the entire time, no organ. Don’t know if they all were like that. Didn’t work for me that night in the middle of Set 2, but I also had no idea who Jimmy Smith was at the time. Wouldn’t mind hearing this again in place of same of the stuff in the regular first set rotation.

  9. SillyWilly Says:

    yeah, i just don’t think it’s serious art.

    not original in a meaningful sense. nothing groundbreaking from a technical sense. nothing to add that hasn’t already been said, imo.

    moral of the battlestar story: technology can be dangerous.

    got it. a long time ago. thanks.

    but, im a hater on most things people try to pass as “art”.

    so don’t listen to me.

  10. stapes Says:

    WHB – vibes to you and your family. Stay strong.

    Re: Vegas – now gdad’s sources are saying no go???

    These dates need to drop soon.

  11. William H. Bonney Says:

    @BB Thanks for for kind words and well wishes.. It really means alot to me.

    @Robear Thankfully he lives in a medi-state so will have no problems with that..and my mom is a RN and big advocate of alter treatments also..

    Just hard to think about going to work in the morning, He and I our the closest of four brothers have seen at least 100 plus Phish shows together, not to mention all the other travel and shows over the years. Just trying to not over react right now and let things play out a little, but if I have to relocate to help him nothing comes before family….

  12. SillyWilly Says:

    You’re a great testament to the love in your family, william h

  13. vegas wolfmans Says:

    90210 in space with uglier chicks.

    ^that’s some funny shit right there.

    Appreciate the Freddie McGregor drop. Pretty sure I’ve heard this before. Positivity with a capital P. Also, couldn’t agree more with the Grant Green love- especially Idle Moments. That record is off the charts good. Transcendent.

  14. halcyon Says:

    Just read back a bit and good vibes your way WHB to you and your family. Stay strong for your brother.

  15. butter Says:

    William H, be strong for your brother, just horrible news, sorry to hear that my friend

    we’re here for you

  16. garretc Says:

    @Silly

    Just in case your still wondering, Barcelona won 2-1. Christiano Ronaldo scored the first goal 11 in on a gorgeous deep pass, only the goalie to beat.

    Puyol scored beginning of the second half on a header from a corner kick, which was actually the 3rd time they tried that exact play (cross to Puyol crashing the far post). They then tried a 4th time on their very next corner a few minutes later, but by then the goalie had caught on.

    Abidal scored to take the lead late second half by making a brilliant left side, barely on side break to the goal to take advantage of an equally brilliant chip shot lob pass from Messi at the top center of the box.

  17. kayatosh Says:

    and so concludes the single greatest night of my life. saw greensky bluegrass @ WCL in philly and it was sublime. hit me in the heart. An amazing group that should not be missed.

    Thank you, Robear.

    Impeccable group sound. Bluegrass perfected and the ability to slide and glide in an out of tunes, w/ some out of nowhere funk/electronica breakdowns. this band has chemistry; the segues are buttah. no drummah all buttah. great use of effects w/ acoustic instruments. White Freightliner – aced. Smokin cover of When Doves Cry, tear jerking cover of Bruce’s AtlanticCity. didn’t know it was bruce till ryan told me on the ride home. struck a chord in me for sure. tears on cheeks.

    the mando player is $$$ and had a very touching voice. strong guitar player, as well. all great players, great voices.

    fun taking it w/ gdad and calpain, my buddy ryan, and gdad’s fine friends. gdad is the good glue; he brings it all together. halftime in the alley was enlightening. jah live. let the music hit you.

    peace to gdad, calpain and all the brethren.
    JAH LIVE.

  18. kayatosh Says:

    PEACE, WHB.

  19. GorgeSand Says:

    Guyute, please tell me how to get that Steal your face Syracuse avatar..PLEASE!!

  20. Mike in Austin Says:

    Good vibes William H.

  21. SillyWilly Says:

    Oldskool

    as MiA said, the board isn’t allowing Selector J to post for some reason

    anyway, you can check the playlist here:

    http://kvrx.org/node/48615

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