On Fuego

fuego_custom-e4db94af0938af438397d4147bf82958ba2fb334-s6-c30As Phish started leaking their album track by track on the Internet, I heard a lot of production. In fact, when I listened to those “Waiting All Night” and “The Line” from NPR, the production was just about all I heard. My thoughts totally transformed today, however, when I spun Fuego on vinyl for the first time on my home system. The music completely opened up, gaining a richness and depth that NPR’s mp3s could never translate. And above all else, I could hear and appreciate Bob Ezrin’s production as it was meant to be heard. As opposed to adding a glossy layer to the music that dilutes the band’s interactions, Ezrin’s work enhances the playing of Phish, adding dreamy layers that provide just enough aural cushion to support the music and make it pop. But the core of the Fuego’s sound is live Phish. In choosing to record live takes with all band members in the same room playing together, Ezrin retained thePhish’s sound capturing a vivid canvas with which to work. He then stepped to the plate as the temporary fifth member of the band, whose influence is felt on Fuego as much as the other fours’.

Ezrin’s greatest success on Fuego is taking a stylistically diverse set of songs and making them into a cohesive whole. The album possesses a flow from beginning to end, and more particularly, retains a sound throughout that is anchored in its retro, psych-pop production. Musically, Fuego contains a certain dreaminess that comes through in waves on tracks like “Halfway to the Moon,” “Winterqueen,” “Waiting All Night,” “Wingsuit” and the title track, itself. This musical thread provides a cerebral narrative to the album, one that touches on themes of loss, hope and, ultimately, redemption.

artworks-000080207042-wz0gbp-t500x500Though Fuego’s story is told in chapters via one well-executed track after another, its two gems are undoubtedly its bookends, “Fuego” and “Wingsuit.” In fact, these two tracks may just be the pinnacle of Phish’s studio repertoire. Both contain unparalleled work from Ezrin, leaving “Fuego” sounding like a medieval adventure, and “Wingsuit” like a lucid dream. Each possess a strong emotional quality that will undoubtedly translate to the live stage. Though Phish has recorded plenty of great songs over the course of their career, “Fuego” and “Wingsuit” represent legitimate studio tracks that can stand up against the work of other great artists.

Interspersed in the album’s surreal narrative are the upbeat selections “The Line,” “Devotion to a Dream” and “Sing Monica.” “The Line” provides an excellent sonic juxtaposition to “Fuego,” and flows impeccably from the title track. “Devotion to a Dream,” sounds quite good on the album and fits in with the album’s thematic narrative congruently. The overlapping chorus of this one really shines with the Ezrin’s assistance, though “Devotion’s” bluesy, Allmans-esque  palette is one of Fuego’s furthest stylistic stretches. “Monica” is another, and this one barely rounds into place. Its brevity, however, makes it only a speed bump and not a true obstacle to flow. Rounding out Fuego are “555” and “Wombat.” Gordon’s writing contribution to the album, “555” came out as one of its highlights, as the horns and backing singers further the bluesy grit of the song. Upon listening to the album as a whole, “Wombat” didn’t strike me as so out of place. Silly? Sure. With its placement between “Waiting All Night” and “Wingsuit,” it likens one of those tripped out dream interludes make any sense in the morning. But the inclusion of “Wombat” and “Monica” suggest the only place where Phish might have dropped the ball on this album—leaving off “Steam.” Not only is it a more-than-worthy track that could supplant both shorter ones, it absolutely fits the fantasy-like theme of Fuego. But who am I to blow against the wind.

10345776_10152015825926290_960017832947971992_nFuego succeeds where so many Phish albums fall have fallen short, its whole amounts to more than the sum of its parts. Though it is not a perfect record, its sonic cohesion and thematic narrative and outstanding production bump it right up to the top shelf of Phish’s twelve. I am not here to argue that it is their best record, for that is purely subjective, however I will nominate it as their best produced effort, and one that deserves recognition among the band’s strongest recordings. It’s been a while since Phish emerged from the studio with an album that they could hold up not only to their fan base, but to the industry at large and garner acclaim. Fuego is such a record, and the band should be proud.

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3,208 Responses to “On Fuego”

  1. Stoney Case Says:

    Gonna hit a 4:20…..am. Been awhile. Happy 6th all!

  2. ren2.0 Says:

    how bout now?

  3. MiA Says:

    Listening to Carini and definitely some amp/board problems at the beginning.

  4. gavinsdad Says:

    I wondered if some of the songs were chosen because they call for very delicate control, our at least he certainly isn’t running away from the challenge.

    ^i support this hypothesis and you’ve heard me bring it up before and i guess it’s nothing new. of course T is testing the parameters of his rig changes and the live setting is the best place to go without a net. i personally love this even at the expense of clams or borks or maybe not as much jam as i might receive. the only thing that would slightly bum me out about this is that he brings the madness in portsmouth or orange beach when i’m not there 🙂 (thats why there are the tapes)

    glad to see this overall positive reception. i’m at the next chunk of shows and hope to receive the transmission as best I can.

    Off to Bay Head NJ w my family to meet one of my oldest friend’s fiancee. i am the best man in their wedding in Sept and I’ve not met this woman. my buddy had a long hard road and i’m happy that he has found someone to be with. hope she’s good for him…it’s all beyond me of course.

  5. Dr Pro Says:

    With my only shows this upcoming Friday and Saturday, I couldn’t be more excited reading the universal enthusiasm out of you guys. Streamed Friday and heard highlights other than last night and the highs seem VERY high. Glad everyone’s getting what they need

  6. Marcoesq Says:

    Good luck gdad, been there before. Luckily it worked out well for my buddy and they’re still together.

    Getting ready to spin last night

  7. Marcoesq Says:

    Still no covers. Wonder how long this lasts. They seem to be more than making up for it by taking everything for a ride. I’ll take that all day and night.

  8. Plord Says:


    Last night I thought I heard a familiar jam in the Carini, but then– totally imagining this part– Trey realized it too and veered in another direction. Figured it out: it was the cool down jam from the Manchester Ghost, right before the ->Mango. Same notes, same pattern!

  9. Kaveh Says:

    Back home safe and sound; great run of shows; can’t wait to follow the rest of tour; it’s going to be good.

  10. ElJefe Says:

    Gdad- are you from Jersey? Was back for the first time in the spring.. Bay Head got hit hard by Sandy. Was crazy driving around there and seeing the scope of what went down…

  11. stapes Says:

    Can’t wait to get home and give the last few shows a proper listen!

  12. marcoesq Says:

    Nice couple days off before Mann, Ph can reset their clocks and open set II with a bigtime Tweez! Sand still hasn’t been played? Monster Tues night in the making.

    “A” effort on the weekend, excited for what’s to come.

  13. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Has anyone else had Feugo stuck in their head for days?

  14. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Phish is a great soundtrack to Breakfast at Wimbledon!

  15. Gavinsdad Says:

    Eljefe – long time Jersey guy. Grew up way up north in Bergen. Been outside Phila for 9 years now. Hit every shore town in between along the way. My friends parents house here in Bay Head sustained way less damage than the rest of town in some stroke of luck.

  16. BingosBrother Says:

    Roger that Df. Head soundtrack for the summer.

  17. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Randall’s goers….. What is consensus? Taking the Ferry from 34th street or walking the Bridge at 125th street? I’m hedging my bets here.. Have a Friday Ferry Pass and nothing yet for Sat…. Sun, I really have nothing.. no ticket or anything

  18. voopa Says:


  19. ElJefe Says:

    Gdad- grew in Manasquan.. Have fun down the shore! 🙂

  20. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    I don’t know anything about Randall’s but ferry sounds like it would be a pain/mess/long wait

  21. MiA Says:

    Par par birdie eagle.

    I’m on fire like phish last night.


  22. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Yeah, It’s a total clusterfuck I’m afraid.. Ferry would be good going, not going home, since they start at 3pm… Early shows to.. 11pm curfew..

    Amazing that a show 2 1/2 hours away is going to be more convenient than one 20 miles away.

  23. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Phish official HD Fuego video from 7/4 up……

  24. jtran Says:

    who’s got my 2 GA field passes for dick’s? booking flights today.

    jtranvt23 at gmail

  25. verno329 Says:

    Thank you voopa for restoring my faith in the internet

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