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. MiA Says:

    And a bogey then double. Never mind me.

  2. Random Poster...Nutbag Says:

    Golf is maddening but so fun. Birdie>eagle is totally legit though regardless of anything else. That Trey dance is awesome.

  3. Cable Hogue Says:

    For Randall’s, I have heard the 103d st footbridge is the move for getting to manhattan post-show if the ferry is a clusterfuck. Think if you’re not in a hurry the ferry will be absolutely fine. Just find a spot to chill and wait out the lines, look at the skyline….as long as it isn’t pouring….

    Loved Carini>Waves, Wingsuit>Piper last night. Fiery.

  4. bob dylan Says:

    I was just goofing last night about what jam that carini came from continuing the joke about trey recycling licks. I am going to listen to that manchester ghost that Plord pointed to.

    In all honesty tho, it sounds to me like the gorge sally jam.

  5. BingosBrother Says:

    Looks like Treys daughters taught him how to bop. Don’t feelso bad about my bopping skills now. Learning new dances is a huge plus when you have girls. Ima Nae Nae all over y’all in Chicago.

  6. BingosBrother Says:

    Can’t cop dope. Can’t cop a feel. Can’t cop his own licks. Poor Trey.

  7. bob dylan Says:

    for those of us that didn’t know the nae nae https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WLvEgTDA1I

    ^i hope you do Nae Nae all over e’rybody

  8. bob dylan Says:

    i for one am all out the sally jam refresh

  9. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Everyone agree that SPAC 2014 crushes SPAC 2013?

  10. butter Says:

    Got a bit greedy and bought 3day stream in HD, I have 30gB / month restricted bandwidth and never have had a problem with SD runs . Cut out during ASHITOS and never got back on. Streamed the 1st two nights no prob..

    Last nights set 2 looks tasty

  11. MrCompletely Says:

    I agree your mom makes crush videos

  12. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    C, youtube links in my orange

  13. bob dylan Says:

    butter, you’d think bandwidth were like the water supply up there.

    “we’re going out californee way, lookin’ for some internets”

  14. MrCompletely Says:

    That sucks butter. Then you’ll also have trouble grabbing the 24 but flacs huh? Bummer

    Set two was strong. Floaty pretty jam in Carini, crisp waves, peaky jam in piper, a bunch of “hey we know you like this song” easy home runs.

  15. MrCompletely Says:

    Not in Slonoma, Bobby.

    And yeah obv it crushes, Df

  16. MrCompletely Says:

    “The future is here, it’s just unevenly distributed”

  17. Cable Hogue Says:

    Haven’t seen Trey struggle quite as much in the heavy composed stuff in quite a while. He seemed to drop out completely at times (Fluffhead and YEM especially)…like that they didn’t shy away from it though. He was fighting it last night. Slave was tight and really nice though, and obviously the big jams were inspired.

    I liked Undermind>ASIHTOS. Theres a couple tunes it would be nice to see in heavier rotation in the “no covers” era. They definitely came at the point in the set where we might have seen a Walk Away or Roses or something…. still loving the freshness of the cover-free shows.

    I don’t know how long I can live in a Phish world without Sneaking Sally and 2001 though.

  18. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Just making sure

  19. Shred Says:

    Glad they’re playing. A lot like last summer where the first 40 minutes of the second set is great. What other band can play so well for so long? A lot of talk on wsp being more fan friendly. That’s a fact. They’re so in touch. But they aren’t as good. Herring rules but come on. Still phish should play DR for a weekend every year. That’s just awesome.

    Also glad trey is listening to us about his tone. It’s a lot better. Took him 5 years.

    The bad- dude cannot play his signature high notes anymore. It’s just gone in type 2. They reienvented themselves and that’s great but I wish he could just prove me wrong.

    People are right about rikers island. What a hassle. Wish it was jones beach. That’s sad. Anyway loved limb x limb waves piper. Thought fuego was good. Hope everyone continues to enjoy.

  20. bob dylan Says:

    i must have been watching the fluffer stream. only had the sound going through my computer so maybe i missed em.

    i am extremely pleased with carini through piper. that waves scratched an itch for me. agree with stoney, best since UIC.

  21. Mr. Palmer Says:

    3.0 progression…keeps getting better.. what more can you ask for?

  22. MrCompletely Says:

    sixteens of the 4th

  23. butter Says:

    Was able to look at data usage. Looks like an HD stream is about 7GB and I actually only get 20gb / month

    Will be going back to SD streams

    I can also purchase more data via “tokens” thru Hughes net. What a scam. #countryWeb

  24. bob dylan Says:

    I dont like Jones Beach one bit. The logistics of getting there via public transit blow to the point I stopped going even when I lived there. Would rather head to camden or philly than jones beach.

    A stroll on the 125th bridge sounds like fun. So does a ferry ride.

    Does Randall’s have beer? The over drinking at jones to compensate for no beers inside always bothered me too.

  25. bob dylan Says:

    I dont get 20gb when the infrastructure is already there. Scam indeed.

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